What is social shopping and how to get started

Social shopping brings e-commerce and social media together. In addition to social media channels, you can find social shops in online communities and review sites, group shopping websites like Groupon, marketplaces like Etsy, and brand websites.

Example of a social shop

I’m sure you’ve experienced social shopping in action when scrolling through your Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook feeds. In addition to product links shared by brands and our friends, many webshops have built social shops inside social media apps. For example, when you click a shopping tag on an Instagram image, you can find out more about the product and sometimes even purchase it without leaving the app.

The growth of e-commerce accelerated during the past few years partly because of the pandemic, and Accenture predicts that social commerce sales will grow to $1.3 trillion by 2025.

That’s why most brands are busy planning their social commerce strategy. On the one hand, webshops can reach a larger audience and grow sales opportunities through social media channels and one-click-integrations to shopping. On the other hand, shoppers expect to see social proof, chat with their friends, and get one-to-one, real-time help before purchase. Hence, social shopping is here to stay.

Social shopping platforms

Your website

You might be surprised to see your website on the list of social shopping platforms. After all, most websites are static and don’t include social media features.

But while social commerce is growing fast in social media channels, brands are integrating social shops into their websites and mobile apps, too.

Social proof drives purchases, and webshops typically show customer testimonials and reviews on product pages. Reviews surely increase conversions on the product page, but social media has one massive benefit: user-generated content mentioning a brand or branded hashtag reaches new audiences. When someone shares a positive experience with their friends, your products and services become visible to people who might not have heard from you before.

It’s easy to embed social media and hashtag feeds on any website, and with Flockler, webshops can tag products to UGC posts. These shoppable UGC galleries can be shown on the homepage, categories, and product pages.

A shoppable Instagram feed on the webshop

Sohome’s webshop has a fantastic example. The 'Shop the look' element on the homepage shows a shoppable Instagram feed, and a related product is shown when you click one of the images.

An Instagram image tagged with a product

Instagram

Instagram shop example

You can call Instagram a pioneer in the social commerce space. While Facebook Ads allowed brands to promote their products for years before Instagram was launched, Instagram’s focus on images and videos made it more natural for both brands and buyers to tap into new social shopping experiences.

Social shopping on Instagram has different levels, from traditional ads directing traffic to your webshop and product tags in Stories to an entire storefront and checkout inside the app. Recently, Instagram introduced live shopping, allowing brands to host exclusive events for their Instagram followers and drive sales.

Through Instagram Shop, your brand can build brand awareness and reach new audiences. In addition to the Instagram feed, the shopping tab helps users discover new products through a personalised catalogue powered by Instagram’s algorithm.

Facebook

Facebook shop example

For Facebook Shops, you can use the same product catalogue as on Instagram and manage it via Facebook’s Commerce Manager.

Also, Shopify, BigCommerce, and other partnering e-commerce platforms can be connected with Facebook, allowing an easier way to import and sync your products and bring them in front of social shoppers.

TikTok

Tiktok Shop

TikTok shops allow brands to sell products directly on TikTok through in-feed videos, live streams, and a product showcase tab.

Since brands are not generally the most popular accounts in the app, TikTok is investing in a creator community re-selling brand products. After integrating your products into TikTok, you can partner with TikTok influencers, and they get a commission through TikTok’s affiliate program.

Pinterest

Pinterest shop example

Social commerce on Pinterest is a fantastic way to find new audiences for webshops with visual content. On Pinterest, brands can create 'Rich Pins', based on your website's metadata. For more advanced use and tagging products to your Pins, you can also integrate your webshop’s product catalogue with Pinterest. Pinterest will sync your products every 24 hours, making sure you’ve always got the new product catalogue for social shoppers.

Benefits of social shopping

The key reason for any brand and webshop to get started with social shopping is the increase in sales. Your website with shoppable UGC galleries and products distributed through social media apps help you show social proof and drive sales. But social shopping has many other benefits:

  1. Attract new audiences
  2. Increase customer engagement
  3. Get customer insights

1. Attract new audiences

With a hashtag campaign and shoppable UGC galleries on the website, your webshop will attract new audiences. When you combine that with one-click shopping on social media, constant audience growth is guaranteed.

The Instagram widget for Vivadogs is a fantastic example of how webshops can show social proof and drive subscription revenues at the same time. The images and videos from happy customers are embedded on the homepage.

An Instagram hashtag feed on a website

2. Increase customer engagement

When you scroll through the Instagram app, you will see more posts from certain friends and companies. This is because social media algorithms determine the content you might like the best from thousands of signals – they want to keep you scrolling the feed as long as possible!

Some main signals are likes, comments, and other interactions for posts and company profile visits. Social media apps observe your behaviour and see what your friends are doing too. If your friends are active social shoppers, algorithms are likely to recommend similar products to you as well.

What does this mean to your brand and webshop?

One of your social media marketing goals should be the growth of engagement. The more engagement your posts get, the more social media drives traffic and revenues in the long term. For inspiration, check out some of our favourite customer engagement examples.

3. Get customer insights

Last but not least, social commerce brings you customer insights you won’t have available through your website and apps.

When you curate social posts and use UGC platforms like Flockler, you get access to likes and comments in hashtag entries. Through the data, you will learn which fans are the most enthusiastic in your customer base and which fans are interacting with UGC posts.

Social media data from hashtag campaign
With Flockler, brands gather brand mentions and hashtag entries and identify the most engaging posts and top fans.

The data looks somewhat different from your general website analytics because social shops attract new audiences. Also, social media apps know a lot more about the customer – most users visit Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok daily, and those apps are an integral part of their lives. 

Social shopping is the future of e-commerce on your website and through social media apps. If your brand hasn’t got started just yet, learn how to make UGC shoppable on your website.

With Flockler, you can gather and display social media feeds from your favourite channels. See the full list of supported content types and sources

Flockler helps marketers like you to create social media feeds and display user-generated content on any digital service. Keep your audience engaged and drive sales.

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