Social commerce is booming right now. Why? Because social media is booming. Over 4 billion people worldwide use social media and in the United States alone, there are 302.35 million social media users right now. That means, according to Daniel Ruby, writing for DemandSage, “...90% of the total US population uses social media actively.” He adds, “Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the US, with 74.2% of adults using it.”
With that many people regularly on social media it makes sense that businesses large and small would want to be there. You might be thinking, “I know what social media is, but what is social commerce?”
What is Social Commerce?
In a nutshell, social commerce is how brands use social media platforms to market and sell their products without them leaving the social platform to make the purchase. It all takes place within the app. For many customers, social commerce is more convenient than a traditional ecommerce shopping experience. In fact it’s expected that the value of social commerce will reach about $2.9 trillion by 2026, just a few years away.
If you are looking for where your potential customers are, and 90% of everyone in the US and over 4 billion people worldwide are on social media platforms, social platforms are likely where you’ll find them and social commerce should be part of your marketing and sales strategy.
Social commerce is not the same as ecommerce
A traditional ecommerce buying experience needs an ecommerce website that displays what’s available for sale and completes the transaction on the site. A social commerce buying experience all takes place within the app in an ecommerce storefront self-contained within the social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. This enables customers who notice your brand on their favorite social media app to make the purchase there, instead of leaving the app to visit your website. Many of your customers probably consider this a streamlined way to make a purchase.
Why does social commerce make sense?
Beyond the fact that the audience is huge there are a number of reasons social commerce makes sense for brands.
The shopping experience is easy and feels natural for your customers. Native functionality that is already a part of the social media app like instant messaging and in-app checkout make it seamless. Because you aren’t asking them to go to your ecommerce site, and they can complete the purchase within the app, they are less likely to lose interest in your product and abandon the sale. In other words, you’re removing steps in the sales process that your customers will appreciate.
You can target users who look like your best customers. Because social media platforms capture a lot of demographic data and information about their interests, it makes it easier for brands to find good potential customers. For instance if your best customer is a 20-something female who likes soccer, you can target that group.
Social media influencers are likely already reviewing your products—or products similar to yours now. Most online shoppers today look for reviews before purchasing. Social commerce allows you to be at the right place at the right time when potential customers are in the purchasing process.
Your customers will tell you what they like, and what they don’t like. Sometimes a brand can learn more from a negative comment than all the praise in the world. Don’t be afraid of negative comments. Embrace them as an opportunity to improve what you offer and build insanely loyal customers by letting them be a part of your product's evolution.
What social platforms should I consider?
That all depends on where you’ll likely find people who look like your best customers. Although there are a lot of people who spend time on multiple social platforms, some platforms do better with certain demographics than others. For example, TikTok is the place to find Millennials and Gen Z, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t Boomers or Gen X on the platform. It just might not be the best place to find Baby Boomers hanging out.
With that in mind, let’s look at the top three social commerce platforms and see who spends the most time there.
Facebook: Facebook’s largest audience is in the United States, 23.7% of the platform’s base. US users aged 25 to 34 years old make up the largest audience with 11.9% of those being women. Overall, 9.5% of users are women aged 35 to 44 and men account for 8.7% of users. If your primary customer lives in the US and looks like this audience, Facebook may be a consideration as you create your social commerce strategy.
Instagram: 47.8% of all Instagram users are women, but 52.2% are male. Like most of the social media platforms we’ll discuss, a younger user base makes up the lion’s share of users. 25 to 34 year olds make up 31.2% of users on Instagram. Out of that group 16.4% are male and 14.8% are female. 31% of users are between the ages of 18 and 24. There are 123 million Instagram users in the US. With Instagram, 87% of users are outside the United States. 17.6% of the world's population uses Instagram. If your customer base skews male, it might be worth considering Instagram for your social commerce efforts.
TikTok: 884.9 million people (15.9% of the world's population over 18) are on TikTok. The platform reaches 25% of female users aged 18 to 24 and 17.9% of men in the same age group. TikTok has the potential to reach about 50% of the adults in the US (130,962,500 people). Countries with the largest marketing potential include the US, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, and Mexico.
Of course these are just the predominant groups on these platforms and not a comprehensive demographic analysis, but a pretty good place to start. For example, I’ve mentioned in other articles that I’m on TikTok. Tthe motorcycle community there is pretty robust and along with the younger demographic, includes a lot of Gen X and Boomers like me. Use this information as a starting point.
What does all this mean?
If your ecommerce marketing strategy doesn’t include social commerce, you may be missing something big. If the market you’re chasing is on one of these platforms, and it probably is, social commerce is a frictionless way for potential customers to learn about you and your products as well as purchase now, without the need for them to ever leave the platform.