The Ultimate Guide To Building an Effective Social Commerce Strategy

By: Stephan Miller on May 9, 2024
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For many business-to-consumer (B2C) retailers and business owners, the decision to jump into social selling is a no-brainer. After all, with 87% of marketers still committed to using TikTok in their long-term marketing strategies, and social media being a constant in our lives, the potential for customer connection and sales is undeniable.* But with so many platforms and tactics available to you, figuring out how to build an effective social commerce strategy without overdoing it can feel like navigating a maze.

There are ten key strategies to not only establish a social commerce presence, but to truly thrive in this exciting space. Learning which ones will work for you will demystify the process and help you turn your social media followers into loyal customers.

What is a social commerce strategy?

A social commerce strategy is your game plan for turning your social media presence into a sales engine. It means going beyond just posting cool pictures and witty captions. It's a comprehensive plan that outlines how a business will leverage social media platforms to promote or sell products and services directly to consumers.

With consumers spending a significant amount of time on social media, businesses need an effective social commerce strategy—it’s important for businesses to stay competitive and meet their target audience where they're already active. By having a clear roadmap in place, you can ensure your social selling efforts are laser-focused and deliver real impact on your bottom line.

Benefits of having a social commerce strategy

We live in a world saturated by social media where consumers are constantly bombarded with content. A strong social commerce strategy cuts through the noise and releases an abundance of benefits for your business. Here are just a few:

Graphic that reads, "Benefits of having a social commerce strategy: Boost sales and revenue; Expand your reach and brand awareness; Build relationships and brand loyalty; Gain valuable customer insights; Stay ahead of the competition
  • Boost sales and revenue: Strategically leveraging social media platforms with high purchase intent (such as Instagram and TikTok [1]) will allow you to convert those casual scrollers into paying customers.

  • Expand your reach and brand awareness: Social media platforms have billions of active users. An effective social commerce strategy allows you to tap into this large audience and introduce your brand to a whole new pool of potential customers.

  • Build relationships and brand loyalty: By building a community around your brand on social media, you can create stronger relationships with your customers, increase brand loyalty, and turn them into enthusiastic advocates.

  • Gain valuable customer insights: Through engagement metrics, comments, and reviews, you can gain a deeper understanding of your target audience's preferences, needs, and buying habits.

  • Stay ahead of the competition: "Social commerce is experiencing exponential revenue growth and is expected to reach $6.2 trillion globally by 2030,” according to Gartner. [2] By implementing a social commerce strategy now, you stay at the forefront of this exciting trend and ensure you don't miss out on potential customers or new sales opportunities.

10 successful social commerce strategies

Building a winning social commerce strategy is all about creating a frictionless and engaging experience for your customers. Here are some key social media marketing strategies for ecommerce:

Graphic that reads, "10 successful social commerce strategies"

Be where your audience lives

The first step is understanding which social media platforms your target audience frequents most. If they're into fashion, maybe Instagram is where you should be. Perhaps it's with the younger crowd on TikTok. By pinpointing the right platforms, you can tailor your content and messaging to resonate with the people who matter most to your company by pinpointing the right platforms.

Speak their language

Don't just talk to your audience—talk with them. Tailor your content to speak in the language that they do. Understanding your audience's voice and preferences is key to building genuine connections.

Give them a glimpse behind the scenes

People love authenticity. Offer a peek behind the curtain and showcase the human side of your brand. Share glimpses of your design process, introduce your team, or take them on a virtual tour of your workspace. This personal touch fosters trust and connection.

Empower your community

Social media thrives on interaction. Encourage user-generated content (UGC) by hosting contests or prompting followers to share photos using your products. Not only does this generate free, authentic marketing, but it also strengthens your community by putting the spotlight on your customers.

Partner with micro-influencers

Partner with expert influencers to help build brand credibility and address customer concerns. Social commerce trends show that 28% of consumers and 34% of Gen Z consumers "who purchased something they saw on social media say they did so after seeing a recommendation from someone knowledgeable about the product." [2]

Explore live shopping

Live shopping is exploding in popularity, especially among younger generations. Consider piloting live streams and offering exclusive discounts and promotions during your live sessions to incentivize purchases. Gartner suggests that you should use the "3 Es" when you do: engage, entertain, and educate. [1]

Make discovery easy

Take advantage of the powerful search functions of social media platforms by optimizing your content with relevant keywords and hashtags. This will help ensure your products are discoverable by potential customers searching for what you have to offer.

Make purchases frictionless

Integrate social checkout functionalities, if available, to allow customers to purchase directly within the platform. The easier it is for them to buy, the more sales you'll convert.

Stay fresh in their minds

Social media is a fast-paced world. Maintain a consistent posting schedule to stay top-of-the-mind with your audience. However, avoid bombarding them. Quality over quantity is key.

Respond and engage

Social media is a two-way street. Respond promptly to comments, questions, and messages. Show your customers you care about their feedback and are invested in building relationships.

How to identify the right platform for your social commerce strategy

The vast landscape of social media platforms feels overwhelming, and there is no single "perfect" platform. The key is to stay curious, but not too curious. Here are key features to look for in social media platforms, according to a recent survey**:

  • Number of active users

  • Competitive pricing and cost-effective ad options

  • Community engagement and interaction features

  • Analytics and insights tools

  • Variety of ad formats and options

  • Robust audience segmentation and targeting capabilities

Each social media platform also has its own unique strengths:

  • Visually-driven platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, are ideal for showcasing eye-catching photos and videos.

  • Community-focused platforms, such as Facebook, can foster deeper connections with your audience through groups and discussions.

  • Short-form video platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram Reels, excel at creating bite-sized content that grabs attention quickly.

And many social media platforms now offer built-in features specifically designed for social commerce. Explore functionalities such as:

  • Shoppable posts that allow users to purchase directly within the app.

  • Live shopping features to host interactive product demonstrations and sales events.

  • Social listening tools to track brand mentions and gain valuable customer insights.

Tech tip

Once you've identified your target platforms, consider leveraging software to streamline your social commerce efforts. They can help you manage your social media presence, schedule posts, track analytics, and even integrate seamlessly with your existing ecommerce store. Here are some types of software to explore:

Who is your ideal social commerce customer?

Before diving right into social commerce, take a step back and get to know your ideal customer on a deeper level. This is more than just demographics. It's about understanding their online behavior, shopping habits, and what motivates them on social media.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Demographics: What is their age, gender, location, and income level?

  • Social media habits: Which platforms do they frequent the most? How do they typically use social media (consuming content, interacting with brands, etc.)?

  • Shopping preferences: Are they impulse buyers, or do they research before purchasing? Do they value convenience and fast checkout processes, or are they willing to wait for a unique, handcrafted product?

  • Social commerce triggers: What motivates them to buy on social media? Are they swayed by influencer recommendations, or do they respond better to exclusive deals and discounts?

If you already have an established customer base, mine your existing data to find valuable insights. Look at purchase history, social media engagement metrics, and customer reviews to get a clearer picture of who is already responding well to your brand on social media.

Consider creating a buyer persona, a fictionalized representation of your ideal social commerce customer. This persona will embody the characteristics, needs, and online preferences of your target audience. But referencing this persona throughout your social commerce strategy will ensure your content and messaging resonate with the right people.

How to create engaging and compelling social commerce content

In the social media sphere, attention spans are fleeting. To truly thrive in social commerce, you need to create content that stops the scroll and compels viewers to take action. Here are some tips that will help you craft irresistible social commerce content:

  • Visual storytelling: Social media is a visual playground. Utilize high-quality photos and captivating videos that showcase your products in an appealing light. Think lifestyle shots, product demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

  • Tap into the power of emotion: People connect with stories and emotions. Use your content to evoke feelings of joy, excitement, or aspiration. Showcase how your products can enhance their lives or solve a problem they face.

  • Leverage humor and entertainment: Don't be afraid to inject some fun into your content. A touch of humor or lightheartedness can go a long way in capturing attention and making your brand more relatable.

  • Keep it snackable: Attention spans are short, especially on mobile devices. Craft bite-size content that's easy to digest. Utilize features such as Instagram Stories or TikTok videos to capture attention quickly.

  • Storytelling through captions: Use captions to tell a story, engage with your audience, and encourage them to learn more about your products. Ask questions, respond to comments, and foster a two-way conversation.

  • Focus on value, not just sales: Create content that educates, entertains, and inspires your audience. Provide valuable tips, showcase product use cases, or share customer success stories.

How to measure and analyze your social commerce performance

Measurement is key to understanding what resonates with your audience and optimizing your approach for maximum impact. Here are some key social commerce metrics you want to track:

Engagement

This includes likes, comments, shares, and saves. High engagement indicates your content is resonating with your audience and sparking conversation.

Reach

This measures the number of unique users who saw your content.

Clicks

Track how many times users clicked on your links within your social media post, directing them to product pages or your website.

Website traffic

See how your social commerce efforts are driving traffic to your website.

Conversion rate

This tracks the percentage of website visitors who purchase after coming from your social media channels.

Social media platforms offer built-in analytics tools that provide valuable insights into your performance. However, for a more comprehensive view, consider using social media analytics software. These tools allow you to track performance across multiple platforms, measure campaign effectiveness, gain deeper audience insights, and optimize your content strategy.

Start turning social media followers into loyal customers

Feeling overwhelmed by the world of social commerce is understandable. But with the right roadmap, you can transform your social media presence into a thriving sales channel. This guide has equipped you with the knowledge and strategies you need to navigate social commerce.

Now it's time to get started:

  1. Refine your target audience, and create a buyer persona.

  2. Identify the social media platforms that draw this target audience.

  3. Create compelling content.

  4. Track KPIs to understand what's working and what's not.

  5. Experiment with new strategies, and use your analytics to refine your process.


Survey methodology

*Software Advice's 2023 TikTok Marketer Sentiment Survey was conducted in March 2023 among 311 U.S. respondents to explore marketers' sentiments and reactions to evolving TikTok features and regulations. Respondents were screened to have marketing, advertising, communications, or PR job roles or functions and must currently use TikTok for marketing or advertising initiatives.

**Software Advice's 2023 Social Media Landscape Survey was conducted in June 2023 among 281 U.S. respondents to explore how marketers are focusing their social media investments in an ever-fragmented social media landscape. Respondents were screened for marketing or advertising job roles or functions in organizations with 1 or more employees. Respondents must use X/Twitter or Instagram for advertising initiatives.