News media companies must embrace social commerce

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


One trend has emerged that is disrupting online shopping. And we need to embrace. Like it or not, social commerce looks set to make a huge impact on e-commerce sales.

Social commerce, simply, is the coming together of e-commerce and social media. Advertisers engaging in social commerce use social platforms as vehicles to sell their products/services. If a business relies on e-commerce sales, it’s likely to be already involved in social commerce. However, as it grows and includes smaller advertisers too — whether you’re in the space or not — the question is: Are you maximising the potential of this latest trend for your organisation?

Social e-commerce is a trend media companies can't ignore.
Social e-commerce is a trend media companies can't ignore.

Opportunities for growth

For years, China led the world regarding social commerce. However, during the pandemic, the trend has gained huge momentum in, for example, the United States, when numerous shoppers moved online. 

There were 80 million social buyers in the United States alone in 2020 when the pandemic hit hardest, according to Statista. That equates to a 30% increase over pre-pandemic levels. 

Experts believe the social commerce trend would have continued to grow without the pandemic, but the pandemic increased its growth exponentially. 

The 80 million buyers mentioned above spent approximately US$27 billion last year. 

Looking ahead, retail experts are forecasting social commerce sales to increase by more than 35%, i.e. a spend of more than US$36 billion. And, looking further ahead to 2025, social commerce (again, in the U.S. alone) is set to grow to nearly US$80 billion.

How can your advertisers take advantage?

Bearing in mind the forecasted growth for social commerce and the growing use of social media, any business involved in e-commerce has the potential to benefit. Yet it is important to ensure the social commerce strategy is tailored to the relevant brand. 

Sounds easy, right? But there are several specific tactics that are relevant to consider. They include user-generated content, working with influencers, and adding consumer comments/reviews to any posts.

Choosing the best platform 

Another big consideration is the chosen platform. 

Facebook is currently the largest social media platform in the western world, which is why it needs to be considered by the advertiser as a contender for sales activity. For small- or medium-sized advertisers, Facebook has created a bespoke platform called Facebook Shops. This was launched in 2020 to help smaller businesses through the pandemic. Through the tool, advertisers can bring their storefront online for free.

Meanwhile, Instagram has been associated with influencer culture for many years now. Despite having fewer users overall (compared with Facebook), influencer marketing can raise awareness for the advertised brand. The platform has several tools to generate sales.

Instagram Checkout makes it easier to purchase items from brands and influencers.
Instagram Checkout makes it easier to purchase items from brands and influencers.

Recently, Instagram launched Instagram Checkout to make purchases easier. Since 2020, the social network has had a shop tab. This allows users to see and purchase in one single click products advertised by people, influencers, or advertisers they follow. 

TikTok is a relatively recent addition to the mix. Advertisers benefit from user-generated content leading to “consumer mania.” Some TikTok users have developed large audiences based on their ability to sell a wide range of products. Consequently, e-commerce masters Amazon added a column to their Web site listing items that recently went viral. As a result, TikTok has now recognised the huge power of its platform as an e-commerce facilitator and has now launched TikTok Shop to offer sellers a wider range of solutions.

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About Mark Challinor

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