The role of social media has evolved dramatically since the days of MySpace. From connecting with friends to making new ones, and increasing brand awareness to offering rapid customer support, the utility of these platforms is as boundless as our creativity.
Now, a new shift brings social media beyond the realm of brand marketing and into the world of sales. Social media ecommerce, or social commerce, is the direct buying and selling of goods or services on a social media platform. Though relatively new, this emerging trend is reshaping how consumers shop (and how brands drive revenue).
In 2020, social commerce sales were already at an estimated $27 billion. Those sales are projected to hit nearly $80 billion by 2025. Clearly, there’s opportunity in selling on social.
For brands interested in extending their ecommerce storefront to social media, much can be learned from companies already using these platforms to drive sales. In this article, we’ll share five genius social commerce examples you can look to for inspiration.
Today’s top social commerce sites
Before we dive into specific examples, it’s helpful to get an idea of the options available to brands interested in social commerce. Nearly every popular social media platform is at least experimenting with social commerce features and tools. As a result, the capabilities vary.
Knowing what each platform offers helps brands narrow down the best approach for their strategy. Let’s familiarize ourselves with some of the big platforms’ offerings:
- Facebook Shops: On Facebook, brands can set up free Facebook Shops which are hosted within their Facebook business profile. Facebook Shops include inventory syncing or uploading tools and automatically feature products for users based on their preferences. Users can complete purchases within the app or on the seller’s website, using Facebook Messenger to communicate directly with brands about specific products or orders.
- Facebook Live Shopping: Introduced in 2021, Live Shopping Fridays lets Facebook users see products in action, ask questions and make purchases all in real time. The live events allow brands to build relationships, provide fresh content, answer questions and streamline purchases through Facebook Shops.
- Instagram shoppable posts: Instagram’s shoppable posts are linked to a Facebook Shop account. Brands with a lot of visual content can make great use of Instagram’s layout and Stories to link to in-app product pages. Sales are completed either in-app or on the brand’s website.
- Pinterest product Pins: Pinterest’s product Pins are expected to account for 15.7% of all US social buyers by 2023. Unlike typical pins, product Pins provide space for price and availability details and redirect to product landing pages. If your brand uses Shopify, it’s easy to add your Shopify product catalog to your Pinterest business page.
- Twitter Shop Module: Also launched in 2021, the Twitter Shop Module allows select brands to showcase products at the top of Twitter business profiles. Users can scroll through a carousel of products on a brand’s profile, and tap on individual products to read more and purchase without leaving the platform.
- TikTok Shopping: TikTok recently began testing TikTok Shopping, through an expanded partnership with Shopify. The feature will help merchants tap into the platforms’ organic, short-form video content to encourage product discovery and sales.
YouTube is also exploring social commerce features, including buttons to transform videos into shoppable content. Meanwhile, some brands are building their own independent social commerce apps.
For example, Nike’s upcoming Nothing but Gold app targets digitally native, Gen Z shoppers. After the success of Nike’s footwear-specific app SNKRS, which provides exclusive offers and new shoe drops, it’ll be interesting to keep an eye out for how Nothing but Gold performs.
5 examples of social commerce in action
Regardless of the platform your brand chooses, successfully executing a social commerce strategy will require creativity and thoughtfulness. To that end, we’ve collected five stand-out social commerce examples from brands that are making it work.
Every company’s approach is unique, of course. Review these posts and videos to identify strategies that align with or could be adapted by your brand.
1. Zimba on Facebook Shops
Teeth-whitening brand Zimba decided to test out Facebook Shops in the summer of 2020. Using bold images and consistent branding, the results were hard to ignore. Over a two-month period, the company saw 1,200 incremental orders from Shops and increased its average order value by 6.7%.
Like many sellers, Zimba uses Shopify to power its online store. Thanks to powerful new tools such as Sprout’s social commerce integrations, it’s easier than ever for brands to link their Shopify catalogs to Facebook to help consumers buy wherever they prefer.
2. Clinique on Facebook Live
With the advent of livestream shopping, Facebook recently opened its Live Shopping doors to select brands. Clinique takes advantage of the feature every Friday at 12 pm PST, with tutorials on skin care, moisturizing and more.
Live Shopping lets retailers display and link to products alongside the video stream, and even use timestamps to help viewers find where each product is featured in the video. Viewers can also comment in real time during the livestream, increasing engagement.
While Facebook Live Shopping isn’t available for every brand, using video to sell on social isn’t an impossibility. Record your own tutorials, partner with a creator or influencer to showcase your products, or simply link to product pages in the video description to achieve a similar effect.
3. MeUndies on Instagram
Over on Instagram, MeUndies is making the most of shoppable posts. When viewing a post, the brand’s audience sees strategically placed dots on modeled products. Viewers can tap the dots or the “View Products” button to learn more and purchase.
Though relatively new, shoppable posts are becoming the backbone of social commerce. As a result, it might take time and a bit of experimentation to get them right. Make sure images aren’t too overburdened with product tags, and do your best to get interested viewers to a purchase option in as few steps as possible.
To maximize shoppable posts, use engaging imagery. This can be branded or user-generated, but either way should showcase your product in action. Make sure to include descriptive tags and detailed product pages. That way, when someone clicks through to your Facebook Shop, they’ll have all the information they need to make a purchase.
4. Harlem Candle Company on Pinterest
The Harlem Candle Company uses product Pins and eye-catching images to snag a prominent spot in the Pinterest Shop collection.
Using Shopify integrations and direct links to product pages, Pinterest users can easily tap from Pin to purchase. Product Pins can be uploaded as Rich Pins, so they include more data than a typical Pin, or pulled from Catalogs, which can be used for paid ads. Use product or catalog Pins if your brand is interested in selling on Pinterest, and be sure to link to a page where audiences can complete their purchase.
5. Best Buy on Twitter
While the results of Twitter’s Shop Module experiment are still pending, brands aren’t waiting around to sell on the platform. Best Buy and others continue to link to well-formatted product pages directly in their Tweets.
Clear, direct calls-to-action such as “Pick yours up today” encourage interested audiences to click through, learn more and review options for purchase. In this social commerce example, Best Buy also makes the most use possible of a Tweet’s limited text. In just a few words, the brand offers significant savings for a high-quality product then doubles-down with a promotional trade-in offer. Strong imagery is the icing on the cake.
Use these social commerce examples to inspire future sales
There are so many options for integrating social commerce into your brand’s strategy, and each platform does things a little differently. After reviewing these examples, you’ve hopefully found a little clarity and inspiration on what would work best for your brand.
Thanks to social commerce, brands can and should use social media platforms to drive sales. Start with the sites you already have a presence on, and grow your ecommerce offerings from there.
Need help getting started with social commerce? Check out our social commerce strategy guide to help uncover your brand’s priorities and align across your organization (beyond marketing) for a seamless rollout.