As previously said, social commerce is rapidly expanding into the realm of social media. In e-commerce, the winning mix of social networking and shopping is becoming increasingly vital for brands and retailers. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: social shopping combines the greatest aspects of social networking, such as specialised product sharing and consumer influence. And social media sites are working hard to close the gap between discovering items on social media and purchasing them.
We understand that predicting the future is difficult, but if you look at all the evidence, one thing is clear: social buying is transforming the way we look at and interact with social media. In the next years, social commerce will only have a greater impact on online shopping.
Continue reading to learn more about the future of social commerce and what you can do to help your brand and business succeed.
What role does social commerce play in the future of shopping?
Whether you’re new to social commerce or have a thriving e-commerce business, you must understand that developing a shopping experience without the use of social media platforms is not an option.
So, 60% of individuals discover things on Instagram, 78 percent of Americans use Facebook to locate new products, and 30% of consumers would purchase through social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. People are allowing social media to influence their purchase decisions, and firms may use it to increase sales and brand exposure.
That is why social media and e-commerce are inextricably linked, and no luxury business can afford to ignore this or expect to generate online sales without a committed social commerce plan. Similarly, social media will only become increasingly integrated with e-commerce, and brands must stay on top of changes, trends, and possibilities that social commerce may bring to the whole buying experience. Consider Instagram, which released its shoppable posts feature in mid-2018, which allows businesses to tag products in organic posts and an online shopping function that allows users to buy products directly on the platform. For example, numerous firms have implemented chatbots to allow users to submit customer service requests or complete transactions on Facebook.
These are all ways that social commerce has sped up the shopping process for businesses and will continue to do so in the future. Consumers are clearly impacted by social media and e-commerce, and the corporate sector is highly hopeful about the expansion of social media and e-commerce, and the eventual merging of the two. With more people glued to their phones and social media platforms, firms should almost immediately combine e-commerce and social media. So, the real issue is: what is on the horizon for social commerce in the not-too-distant future?
So, how does Social Shopping fare in the future?
We need to look to the East if we want to talk about the future of social shopping. Because, despite its relative youth in the West, social commerce is already a significant deal in China. The primary distinction is that in China, people do not use social media and apps solely to make purchases. They use social media sites to engage with brands at every stage of the buying process, which is something the West has yet to do.
When you examine the many advancements in social media and social commerce, you’ll notice a definite tendency of duplicating what’s currently working in China. The majority of Facebook’s and Facebook Messenger’s functionality originated in China’s Goliath, WeChat. It means they are far ahead of the West in terms of creating their online businesses and platforms. However, as previously said, purchasing in China is a complex ecosystem comprised of e-commerce sites and social media platforms. Their approach to e-commerce and online purchasing isn’t considered e-commerce anymore. Social commerce is a “hybrid” that combines social networks, communication platforms, and retail in China’s unique method.
In China, social commerce is connecting with people who share a common interest rather than simply purchasing a product. It’s more than just a shopping site; it’s a manner of social engagement. This is where the future of social commerce lies: it will evolve into a form of social participation rather than merely a process. It’s about bringing people together in online communities rather than pressuring them to buy things on social media.
WeChat has built a communication-based environment where sellers meet customers and form a trusting relationship, which is fundamentally different from traditional e-commerce. This is the most significant distinction between Facebook and WeChat.
Brands may use WeChat to showcase everything from content, payment methods, and social interactions to live streaming, customised e-commerce, and customer care. WeChat will be able to give a more personalised and personal experience for potential customers as a result of this. With all of this in mind, it’s clear where social shopping’s future lies. In the future, social and e-commerce applications will be combined. It does not imply that marketers would simply add ecommerce capability to an existing social network, as Instagram did with its online purchasing component, but rather that things will be turned around.
Online brand communities founded on trust and common values between the brand and customers will be at the heart of social commerce. The future of social purchasing is a combination of social media, social commerce, and online brand communities.
But, first and foremost, what is a brand community?
A brand community is a group of customers who are invested in a company’s brand beyond the product; they enable businesses to deepen customer relationships and include them in brand co-creation. While this may be a novel concept for you, many of the world’s most well-known brands, such as Nike, have been cultivating communities for years.
In an era where marketing is becoming increasingly individualised, online communities will be the gathering places for people with diverse interests, ranging from parents and dog owners to Labrador dog lovers and Lego toy collectors. This will be the kick-off for social commerce’s bright future.
Some companies are already utilising their online brand communities. We may discuss other online community success stories, such as NikePlus, a membership that provides advice, support, online chat, and member-exclusive merchandise. Sephora’s Beauty Talk, on the other hand, is an encouraging example of an online brand community. Beauty Talk was born out of Sephora.com’s tens of thousands of online reviews and customer questions. They built the platform by using their existing audience and customers to establish an online community for beauty enthusiasts.
Their online community has grown into a vibrant forum where Sephora customers share ideas, advice, and product reviews. Users can share images of themselves using Sephora items to the Beauty Talk, which provides another method to interact with the products and the community. The images then lead to product pages for all of the items utilised. That’s how real social trade works. Brands may also utilise the forum to learn which items customers are interested in and respond to customer care complaints.
When clients are grouped around a single brand, such as Sephora, it is only essential to present a sales opportunity and focus on a specific product that precisely fulfils the wishes, interests, and needs of community members. Any brand’s real sales and engagement generator is this.
While creating an involved and vibrant community takes time and effort, once done correctly, as the examples show, it can be a gold mine of chances for your brand and marketing plan.
However, how can you create a thriving and long-lasting online community?
What is the best way to build a brand community?
Individuals should be able to do more than just shop or “stalk” people on social media as part of social commerce. The focus should shift to online brand communities that bring together specific people and focus on items that match their wants, needs, and interests.
But how can you build your own brand community?
1. Develop Your Community Management Skills
Given that you already have a social media platform, you must pay special attention to community management. The brand’s ideals should be reflected in your posts, vocabulary, and “social media presence.” Furthermore, you should show that you care about the social media community by allowing them to participate in debates.
The most important thing is to keep the conversation on track and to ensure that no one is assaulting another. Allow customers to report inappropriate behaviour and know when to intervene in talks. Your online community will perceive that there is a “person” behind the business in this manner.
2. Make an investment in effective content marketing.
To get the most out of your online community in terms of commercial value, you’ll need exceptional content marketing that keeps your customers engaged. Members that are actively involved build a loyal consumer base and are a good source of data-driven insights.
And, in order for your material to be engaging and worth reading and sharing, it must be focused on the needs, wants, and issues that are important to your community. Procter & Gamble’s online community, which focuses on women’s lifestyle, relationships, and culture, is a perfect illustration of this. They offer value to their material for their target audience in this way.
Allowing your social media followers to propose themes or showcasing them in your post is a terrific approach to increase engagement. This will aid in the formation of bonds amongst members.
With just these two improvements, your company can slowly but steadily build a dedicated online community that will increase sales and engagement. While more firms profit from online communities, we will undoubtedly see a shift in mindset from e-commerce to the development of online communities as locations where individuals discuss their common interests while also purchasing things. Still, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to online marketing. Some businesses are well-suited to forum-based systems, while others require more inventive approaches to client involvement.
You may provide your future and present customers a platform to start a meaningful engagement with your company by developing an online brand community. Your long-term marketing plan should be to build your community.
However, there will be no sales without a deliberate strategy, a properly constructed community, and appropriate community-friendly content.