Thursday, March 10, 2022

How Marketers Can Stay in Front of Gen Z Audiences with Social Commerce

Hop on the social media platform of your choice and you’re bound to hit a post saying “link to buy in my bio” or an ad for a product you could buy and check out directly on the app within seconds. 

These are just two small examples of social commerce and its making waves across the marketing landscape. 

What is Social Commerce?

Social commerce is a term used to describe the combination of social media and eCommerce. It refers to the use of social media platforms to drive online sales, or traffic to eCommerce websites. If you’ve ever fallen victim to an Instagram ad, you’ll know exactly how powerful this marketing strategy can be.

Yes, companies invest in social commerce to increase online sales and traffic, but there’s more at stake. The benefits of social commerce include:

  • More personalized customer interactions
  • Easier shopping process for customers
  • Ability to collect data about customers for targeted marketing campaigns

How Does Social Commerce Work?

Social commerce works by allowing businesses to create a presence on social media platforms, like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. These businesses can then use these platforms to share products and services with customers, and sell products and services directly to customers through the platform. 

The two most popular social commerce platforms right now are Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has launched Facebook Shops, a tool to allow brands to create digital storefronts directly on Facebook. Instagram has a slightly different approach, allowing brands to capitalize on influencer marketing by allowing them to create shoppable posts, enabling the user to select an item from a post and link to the store, or even purchase and check out on Instagram.

How Will Social Commerce Change the Marketing Industry? 

According to GWI, 98 percent of Gen Z owns a smartphone. Nearly half of all Gen Z members have a screen time of over 10 hours a day, with more than 6 of those hours on mobile devices alone. Even if you aren’t jumping on the social commerce bandwagon now, when it comes to reaching this demographic, it is vital to meet them where they are and embrace mobile marketing. 

Social commerce is already changing the way marketers operate, making it easier for businesses to connect with customers on a personal level. It will continue to simplify the shopping process for customers by allowing them to shop directly on social platforms. Right now social commerce is worth 492 billion dollars and will be worth $1.2 trillion by 2025, according to an Accenture report. The social commerce market will outpace the traditional eCommerce market by three times over this time frame. 

The most important part of the growth in social commerce isn’t how quickly it’s growing, it’s who it’s growing with. According to the same report, this growth will be made up by a 62 percent Gen Z audience. This is an important way for marketers to engage with this group only continuing to increase purchasing power over the coming decades. 

Facebook and Instagram are mentioned above as the two biggest social commerce platforms in the US right now, but there are many platforms growing with social commerce in mind. TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat are all becoming powerful tools in marketing, allowing brands to target a specific audience and convert to sales without having to leave the platform once. 

Over the last year alone there have been many examples of brands seeing strong results from investments in social commerce. Using technological advancements in Snapchat’s augmented reality (AR), brands like Ulta have taken advantage of this trend to reach consumers on the device they love the most. Using AR allows customers to test a product before buying, creating a seamless purchase experience. In a two-week period, Snapchat users tried on over 30 million Ulta products which resulted in over $6 million in sales. 

Apps are becoming a powerful tool in social commerce. Pinterest has seen 126 percent increase from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021 in its own AR shopping lens that allows users to see what a piece of furniture will look like in their home before they buy it. Pinterest is an especially interesting case because it not only highlights the push for social commerce, but also a brand that is killing its mobile commerce game. 

Mobile commerce is another important topic in the future of marketing because it gives brands even more access to Gen Z screens. Pinterest upped its mobile commerce strategy by deploying a Progressive Web App (PWA). PWAs are apps that can be accessed over the web and do not take up as much space as their native app counterparts. PWAs are driving results for many brands including Pinterest. Since the switch to a PWA, users spent 40 percent longer on Pinterest and ad revenue is 44 percent higher. 

PWAs may be an important piece of the mobile marketing puzzle as younger consumers may not feel the need to waste elusive storage space on their phones for brands native applications. When Starbucks launched its PWA, the size of its mobile app was 0.4 percent of the original native application. PWAs also come with lightning fast loading times making it easier for customers to stay engaged before scrolling away. With these advancements, brands are able to capitalize on the time spent on screens by younger customers as well as capture their limited attention span. 

With younger buyers increasing time spent on their mobile phones, it is going to take marketers matching the pace to capture their attention on their devices. Both social and mobile commerce are powerful tools that can help marketers stay ahead of the curve when it comes to reaching young audiences.