Navigating the past two years of digital changes has been a challenging yet invigorating time for brands and social media users alike. From the large spike of social platform users and increased time spent online to measurement fluctuations, everyone has developed new behaviors and preferences within the social space. 2020’s lockdowns forced brands to get creative with their digital presence as well as how they service their customers. The primary solution? Convenience.
Without foot traffic, social platforms saw brands offer delivery (with and without third-party delivery vendors), livestream shopping experiences and more ways to pay online. Brands quickly realized their sites and user experiences needed upgrades to address friction within the customer journey.
Creating a Seamless User Experience
Reducing user flow and overall friction has been key in acquiring new customers and maintaining positive engagement for social commerce brands. This means limiting the number of steps users need to complete a purchase. Integrated autofill payment features, keeping the shopping experience in-platform and tagged products in lifestyle imagery or creator content are a few solutions social platforms have developed to reduce friction for brands.
These in-platform features provide seamless user flows, resulting in increased sales and heightened brand affinity. Users appreciate convenient, painless buying experiences that do not feel like major interruptions to their daily social platform usage. Dynamic ads featuring brand inventory also offer a quick win for personalized, relevant product sales, while the ability for creators to tag products in brands’ inventory presents scalable discovery for primed users. Additionally, Shops within Meta apps have married online and in-store inventory for a localized approach. Through this social-savvy approach, many smaller up-and-coming brands gain visibility, and ultimately favorability, by leveraging features native to the platforms.
Understanding Each Platform’s Role in Social Commerce
Social usage is not equal across platforms. With out eMarketer article recently stated, “To align with usage trends, checkout providers will double down on optimizing the mobile payments experience.” While buying preferences change and purchasing options evolve, the various social platforms cater to each aspect of social commerce in various ways to remain differentiated. This requires brands to creatively inform users of the pain point they alleviate on each platform.
Each social platform presents a new touch point for brand discovery and loyalty. However, it can be difficult for brands to develop and maintain a presence on all major social platforms. When brands debut on a new platform, it’s important to consider the ongoing demands of community engagement.
In the Gen Z purchase behavior article, Parkkinen mentions Gen Z’s method of brand research as being social-focused. Using reviews, comments, and social community engagement, Gen Z users base their brand choices on their overall positive buyer relationships. Brands that humanize their name, dive in and interact with social communities can quickly build positive sentiment and achieve organic growth.
This does not mean being active on all social platforms; it means trusting their internal teams to understand each platform’s offerings, user base and content variations in order to be present and, more importantly, relatable. Knowing the differences in social commerce offerings can also aid in deciding which platforms are the best fit for a brand.
Investing in a Consistent and Human Social Brand
Being an active user as a brand on social platforms can also inform the direction their content should take. Are users engaging positively with short animation over long-form video? Does user-generated content gain more interaction than product images? Are users sharing more of the brand’s stitched TikToks than text overlays? Getting to know how users want to consume brand content will guide how brands should show up on each platform when they want to encourage or influence buying behaviors.
Branding consistency further helps content to feel more native to the platforms. Social commerce is heavily reliant on the full social experience. This means a smooth transition from brand recognition or interest, to easily understood value propositions, to a frictionless path to purchase followed by a feeling of being valued. With lingering trust issues many social users have, it’s critical to validate their purchase decision with anything from a simple “Thank You!” email to immediate order tracking information. Even those impulse purchases with autofill payment options should come with confirmation to avoid buyer’s remorse in the digital ecosystem.
As more people emerge from their homes, convenience and consistency from brands will continue to remain crucial in the buying experience. Social commerce inspires discovery and opportunity for personalization, but when users venture into the physical shopping realm, brands are having their identity challenged.
Marrying digital and in-store experiences will be a priority for brands as buyers venture out. In MarTech’s eCommerce predictions, one valuable concept brands should adopt is a holistic approach to brick-and-mortar. Allow consumers to fluidly engage with brand content digitally and physically without feeling a misplaced value or exclusivity to either channel.
Social platforms have evolved to provide seamless shopping experiences, but prior to their social commerce product development, they offered valuable features to encourage and drive in-store traffic. Localization features offered on platforms like Snap and Meta apps give brands the opportunity to reach and connect with both their digital shoppers as well as those who prefer the brick-and-mortar experience. Brands that value their digital consumers and their in-store purchasers often provide parallel promotions and engage in ways that reward both arms of business. These two types of purchasers may merge or overlap at any time, so the brand’s respect for buyer options and preferences will help maintain their positive sentiment overall.
Social platforms offer impressive agility when it comes to product updates and social commerce services. Brands can evolve alongside platforms if they keep their profiles active, observe and engage with their social communities, and continue to push toward a hybrid shopping experience when applicable. Social commerce success can be achieved when brands meet social buyers on the platforms they spend their time on, with content they prefer and a brand relationship they will value.
Traci Asbury is Center of Excellence, Social at Goodway Group. She is a graduate of Kennesaw State University and brings years of industry experience excelling in marketing positions for brands and agencies alike. In her current role as the social arm of Goodway’s Center of Excellence team, Asbury leads all social media efforts to excellence standards. She does this by improving and maintaining Goodway’s expertise in social buying and execution to ensure continuous improvements and a competitive advantage. With her deep knowledge and understanding of social platform buying and strategy and her wealth of experience managing social within the digital ecosystem, Asbury knows how to leverage platforms to find success for brands of all types.