The Rise of Social Commerce

Caitie Gonzalez

Estimated read time: 2 minutes, 57 seconds

Facebook recently announced a plan to test a shopping feed within its app that is designed to help users discover new products and buy them seamlessly. Welcome to the brave new world of social commerce.

Social commerce has been something of a buzz phrase in the retail industry recently, and it’s not hard to see why: Customers can buy goods wherever is most convenient for them. Why not have your customers shop at the sites they already visit several times a day? Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are looking for ways to keep you engaged in their digital ecosystems anyway, and new offerings such as shopping could help with that.

The Impact of Social Media

Social media may still only drive a small share of total online retail sales, but its impact is becoming impossible to ignore. Social-driven retail sales and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other online channels.

The top 500 retailers earned $3.3 billion from social shopping in 2014, up 26% from 2013, according to the Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500. That is well ahead of the roughly 16% growth rate for the overall ecommerce market in the US.

Now new initiatives from a number of different social networks are making these platforms absolutely essential for retailers that want to drive sales and boost engagement.

A new report from BI Intelligence analyzed social media’s role in online retail — whether that’s driving direct sales with the use of embedded “Buy” buttons on social media posts, or referring traffic to retailers’ websites and apps. They measured the impact social media has on ecommerce by looking at metrics such as conversion rates, average order value, and revenue generated by shares, likes, and tweets.

share of social generated e-commerce revenue graph

Report Highlights

Here are some of the key points from the report:

  • Social is driving much bigger increases in retail traffic than any other online channel. Social media increased its share of ecommerce referrals nearly 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
  • For retailers to maintain these social gains, they will need to pay special attention to mobile, where social engagement with retail content is still limited. Social media users are 35% less likely to share a brand’s or retailer’s social post on mobile than they are on desktop computers.
  • Facebook continues to grow its lead as the dominant social commerce platform. Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. The site’s changing demographics could make older consumers a strong target for retailers leveraging the platform.
  • Pinterest is a major social commerce player despite a relatively small user base. The pinning platform drives 16% of social revenue despite an audience 6.5 times smaller than Twitter. New buy and action buttons on retailer posts should make Pinterest an even stronger referral and revenue engine for brands.
  • Twitter is losing its influence on mass-market merchants, but it could still have a role to play among sporting and events marketers, especially for location-based promotions. Recently, NFL and NBA teams have used Twitter to sell game tickets and merchandise.
  • Instagram doesn’t drive significant sales activity for retailers but high-end companies have been leveraging the platform for branding purposes. New Buy buttons on paid posts, as well as increased targeting capabilities, could make the app a more important direct-response driver.

The impact of social media is becoming impossible to ignore.  And it’s easier than ever to take advantage of the benefits of social commerce for your business.

A full-stack ecommerce solution like FastSpring will help you ensure that your ecommerce platform will keep up with your social media selling. Click here to get your free demo today. 

Caitie Gonzalez

Caitie’s background in social media and content marketing combined with her creative nature led her to a career in content creation. Caitie has experience in creating content for social media, blogs, websites, and video. When Caitie isn’t busy creating educational and entertaining content, you can find her walking her dog, watching movies, and playing video games.
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