[Social commerce] What it is, pros and cons, and how to integrate this strategy into your e-commerce

What would you say if someone asked you about the impact of social media on your e‑commerce?

Most likely, you’d say it helps you to:

  • Gain visibility.
  • Strengthen your brand.
  • Attract more leads.
  • Foster loyalty among your clients.

Of course, all these answers are correct – but something is missing:

To sell more.

We’re not just referring to the fact that social media help you find potential clients (that’s social selling, a technique we broke down here).

We’re taking things a step further in this post by telling you about social commerce. In other words, how you can turn your corporate profile into an online store in its own right.

Not quite sure what social commerce is?

Then turn off your phone notifications and spend the next ten minutes reading this, because we’re going to tell you:

  • What social commerce is.
  • Its pros and cons.
  • How to implement it into your store.

Ready to get social? 😉

👉 What exactly is social commerce?

In the post’s intro, we already told you that social commerce (or “s-commerce) is much more than just using Facebook or Instagram to get leads.

The point is to use social media as another sales channel.

This means adjusting your corporate profile so people can:

  • Access your whole catalog.
  • Read other users’ opinions.
  • Enquire about prices, product features, delivery times and costs, etc.
  • Place an order outside your website (in some cases).

And, believe it or not, this tendency has been around for quite a while.

The different social media themselves, with Facebook and Instagram at the front line, have made several advancements related to social commerce.

We’ll tell you about everything each platform has to offer later, but for now, let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of this system.

👉 Pros and cons of integrating social commerce into your strategy

First off, a disclaimer.

When we say you should turn your social media into another sales channel, we’re not saying it should be your only sales channel.

Social media sales don’t replace your e‑commerce website.

For a start, because Facebook’s the only platform – as of now – offering on-site purchases (with the rest, purchases still need to be completed through the seller’s website).

But the main reason is that the true potential of social commerce lies in using it as part of an omnichannel strategy.

Let’s take this one step at a time.

✅ A. Advantages

We’ll start with the pros of social commerce (which outweigh the cons). 😉

1. You get a high volume of potential customers

Pretty much everyone uses social media.

Facebook, Instagram and YouTube combined – the three biggest platforms, excluding WhatsApp – make up nearly 6 billion users already.

These numbers combined with a sound strategy can help you reach wide audience keen to purchase your products.

But it doesn’t stop there – social media is an excellent tool to strengthen your brand and generate a loyal community around it.

Not to mention…

2. You attract more traffic to your site

Because, as we said earlier, nowadays most social media platforms lead users to your site to complete the purchase.

Here’s where omnichannel retailing comes into play.

The point is to use social media to attract users, show them your products, and spark some interest in them. That way, when they’re ready to buy, users are led to your website, where the deal is closed.

And there’s another advantage here as well. With increased traffic, it turns out Google rewards you with a higher position in the search results.

3. They work well as a customer service channel

If there’s something social media is great for, it’s facilitating communication between brands and customers.

And that’s something to take advantage of in terms of social commerce.

For instance, imagine you own a clothes shop and one of your customers wants to know if the latest trainers model you’ve uploaded is available in fuchsia.

If he or she has seen that product on your social media, all they need to do is click on “Send private message”. Or – even easier – they use the comments section to ask the question.

The simpler the process, the greater the chances of selling.

4. Increased confidence (and conversion)

Users are more active on social media.

They post comments, they reply to one another, and they’re also more likely to leave a review of a recently purchased product.

These reviews are invaluable, because it’s estimated that up to 90% of users rely on other people’s opinions when making a purchase decision.

That’s why social commerce proves so effective to instill confidence among your leads and increase conversion.

✅ B. Disadvantages

It’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, and social media is no exception. Let’s see why.

1. Users get sidetracked

Buying on social media has become quite common.

However, in reality, when users log in, they don’t typically have a purchase intention. Plus, they’re also exposed to many different stimuli (tag notifications, live streaming by people they follow, a new story uploaded by some of their contacts, etc.).

With so much around, the chances of users abandoning a purchase halfway through is quite high.

2. Limited configuration options

Social media is putting a lot of effort into trying to look like online stores… but they’re not stores.

This means you can’t:

  • Suggest complementary products to promote cross-selling.
  • Show pop-ups or push notifications to advertise promotions.
  • Add a smart search engine to streamline searches on your website (and increase sales).

In fact, as we said earlier, most platforms don’t even have a payment gateway.

So, although this functionality is likely to be implemented in due time, there’s still a way to go.

3. Your sales depend on an algorithm

Remember the change to Facebook’s algorithm that limited organic reach?

In its aftermath, many stores that had strived to get clients through fan pages saw their sales plummet.

All they could do was invest in Facebook Ads to get their reach back to where it was.

This could happen at any time, and it could force you to give your sales strategy a U-turn.

That’s why social commerce should always be one of your online store’s columns (alongside organic traffic directed through your website and your email subscribers list), but not your only option.

👉 How to implement social commerce into your online store

As you’ve seen, the advantages of selling on social media outweigh its potential drawbacks.

So, if you’re willing to implement this strategy, check out these tips.

✅ 1. Choose the platforms wisely

This is essential.

Just knowing your buyer persona’s favorite platform isn’t enough; you also need to know which are friendlier in terms of implementing social commerce.

Even though Facebook and Instagram are a step ahead of the rest, we’re going to tell you how to apply this strategy in other platforms.

Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

A. Facebook

As we’ve said, Facebook is currently the only platform that offers on-site purchases.

social commerce ejemplo

You have two options:

  • Storefront: the most basic “store” version. It allows you to create a product catalog leading to your website.
  • Shop: this is a proper store. You can upload products, set up product collections (which work as categories) and customize a basic homepage. Here’s a full tutorial on how to create a Facebook store.

Commerce Manager (the page where you manage your Facebook store) gives you information about payments, your sales volume, and even financial reports.

B. Instagram

Instagram Shopping allows you to tag your products in pictures to lead users to your website just by clicking on them.

However, in order to use this functionality, you need:

  • An Instagram business profile.
  • A website to direct users who click on your photos to.
  • A Facebook fan page (if you don’t have one, you need to create it).
que es social commerce

All data from Instagram Shopping is shown on Facebook’s Commerce Manager too.

C. Other platforms

While their functionality is much more limited, other platforms also allow you to apply some social commerce formulas.

For instance:

  • Pinterest: if you sell highly visual products (clothes, accessories, etc.), you can use Pinterest’s dashboard as a catalog and link each product to its corresponding card on your website.
  • Snapchat: posts last only for 24 hours, which makes it perfect to boost sales with the scarcity technique.
  • Twitter: although it doesn’t feature any social commerce-specific functionality, you can make use of external (paid) tools such as Chirpify to add payment gateways.

And this next point applies to any platform you use.

✅ 2. User reviews are pure gold

As we said before, products reviews are a powerful tool to increase conversion.

If you need to encourage customers to leave one, you can:

And there are other ways of using social proof in your favor.

✅ 3. Get support from influencers

Influencers are opinion leaders on social media, so this sort of collaboration can help you gain visibility and attract more potential clients.

Don’t limit your list to stars with millions of followers.

Micro-influencers with smaller audiences are an excellent alternative – and still come with many of the same advantages, as you can see here.

✅ 4. Don’t forget to offer high-quality content

Because it’s not all about selling.

If you want to:

  • Attract followers.
  • Build engagement through your brand.
  • Turn those followers into clients.

First you need to offer them useful and interesting content that encourages them to follow you.

Here’s a post with some ideas to dazzle your followers.

👉 Are you going to use social commerce in your store?

You’ve seen the potential of using social media as another sales channel.

Now it’s your turn to put everything we’ve told you into practice and turn social commence into another column of your marketing strategy.

Time to put some elbow grease into these platforms. 😉