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Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production
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Click, Heart, Add to Cart: Why Social Commerce Is the Powerful Sales Driver Your Brand Isn’t Using
28/04/2022
Group745
Advertising Agency
New York, USA
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VMLY&R COMMERCE's global chief digital officer Debbie Ellison busts some of the myths that might be holding you back from embracing this powerful tool
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It’s undisputed: E-commerce won the pandemic. If your business didn’t have a solid online retail presence two years ago, it almost certainly has one now. But alongside e-comm’s meteoric rise was another pandemic success story: social media. Less noteworthy, perhaps, because every person and their dog – no, really, have you seen Tika the Iggy and her 1.1m Instagram followers? – was already using it, but still most definitely in the winner’s circle. And then they got together… and became a power couple to rival Jay-Z and Queen Bey.     


Winning Formula

Ellison and her team define social commerce as a unique way of driving socially influenced sales and purchases on social platforms. It’s a triumph of behavioural economics, combining the always-open-for-business and shop-where-your-are convenience of e-commerce with the engagement and inspiration of social media. “It’s placing shoppable moments in our hands – commerce is everywhere and always on; a commerce moment is a click, tap or swipe away,” says Ellison. What’s more, “people are not in ‘buy’ mode when they’re using social media – they’re in ‘explore’ mode so they buy really quickly,” she adds.

It all sounds like a recipe for success. So why is your brand not using it? Here, some of the myths that might be holding you back – busted. 

MYTH: Social commerce is still too new and untested.

BUSTED: Social commerce is already alive and thriving off the back of the pervasiveness of social media. “3.8 billion people (49% of the world’s population) are social media owners and that’s growing 9% year on year,” says Ellison. “eMarketer reports that social media referral to retail and e-commerce sites has grown 110% in the last two years, outpacing all other referral channels. Last year, social commerce generated over US$450 billion in sales.” She believes social media has already revolutionised how we buy. “Brands and products are closer to us than ever before, served to us, through our mobiles, into our hands. And shoppable content has turned the concept of the purchase journey completely on its head – the traditional marketing funnel is no more.”

MYTH: It’s a social media team thing.

BUSTED: Traditional social media strategies start with awareness, then getting reach, engaging the audience and only then potentially driving sales. However, social commerce should have a sales-first approach, says Ellison. “What I would implore you to think about is: How do you understand your business growth objectives? Where are those opportunities for your business to deliver net new sales? Which channels are going to deliver those net new sales? And then you can start to develop your social commerce strategy off the back of that.” She adds: “Don’t think of social as just a means of driving brand love and brand equity, but as a way to turn that brand love and brand equity into sales.” 

MYTH: Social commerce only works for fashion and beauty.

BUSTED: “While we do see fashion and beauty being among the main categories driving that explosion in social commerce, we’re now seeing categories like homeware, everyday consumer electronics and even high-value goods such as automotive,” says Ellison. 

MYTH: I don’t have enough of a social media presence for this to work.

BUSTED: “It’s really about being more people centric and understanding the audiences you want to target and the sub-categories within those audiences and then understanding which channels they’re using,” says Ellison. “That should always be the very basis of any strategy.” Simon Luff, Strategy Director at VMLY&R Commerce, has a history in search engine optimisation (SEO) and believes that by integrating SEO with social commerce, it’s possible to create authentic, hyper-targeted content that drives sales. He cites an example where the goal was targeting brand new audiences. “We found that 90% of the sales were coming from people who don’t follow us. We were able to create brand-building content and then re-focus that into conversion content and then, eventually, we recruited them as social followers.”  

Over the last two years, the brands that have thrived are those who were willing to embrace solutions they may previously have dismissed as not a good fit for their business. And with the value of the global social commerce market projected to reach US$2.9 trillion by 2026, you may want to avoid knocking this particular tool until you’ve tried it. 

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Work from VML Worldwide
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