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The days of searching for ways to attribute ROI to social media could be over. Social media is now presenting us with a very promising e-commerce opportunity. It’s no longer about liking, it’s about buying. Facebook has announced an in-app retail function; Twitter is expanding its “Buy Now” button, while Pinterest is now all about “buyable pins”.

According to Invesp, 5% of spending in online retail in 2015 will come directly from social platforms. But social e-commerce functions have only been around for a year. So are these forecasts reliable? Should you now be piling in?

We’ve looked into whether social commerce is something your brand should now be getting into.

Impulse buying & the user friendliness behind the idea of social commerce
One of the greatest benefits social media e-commerce will bring to your business is to encourage impulse buying. If everything you see is only one click away, try to resist the urge to impulse buy! One of the main attactractions to e-tailers is the reduction of clicks potential customers have to do to make a purchase.

Our favourite social platforms have their own great reasons for these their new plans:
When it comes to users following brands to find out more about products, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are the three most powerful social networks. 21% of Facebook users follow brands with the intention to buy their products. Many say they follow a brand just to find out about sales or free delivery offers. Check out this statistic on SproutSocial.

With this awareness, Facebook is currently testing a new form of shopping directly from users’ newsfeeds in their mobile app. According to Facebook’s blog: “When people click on products from ads in their News Feed, the mobile websites they’re directed to often take a while to load and aren’t optimised, increasing the chance that people will drop off”

Pinterest, the social platform with 80% female users, meanwhile is many women’s neatly organised go-to hub for inspirations and boards of items they want to own. It makes perfect sense for Pinterest to introduce buyable pins to what already acts like a catalogue for much of their audience.

The impact of social referrals on sales
Research shows that in 2013, social media networks referred over 157 million customers to brand’s websites. Social ROI is however difficult to measure. But such numbers reinforce its silent power. One of the biggest reasons for this is people’s trust in peer recommendations.

According to Sprout Social, 74% of all consumers heavily rely upon social media to assist in their purchasing decisions. The number doesn’t necessarily speak of merely reading reviews or having friends post about it on their profiles.. Other ways users get help in their online purchasing decisions include products peers have liked, favourited, pinned, shared or tweeted! You can read more on the power of peer recommendation in our blog on why your brand needs to work with influencers.

Diligent’s Verdict
With 5% of all online retail purchases predicted to come directly from social platforms this year, you would expect for the numbers to increase in the coming years with continuously improving social commerce options.

Many of the promising social e-commerce options have only been rolled out in the last 1 year, so there is only little data to support its effectiveness as an online commerce method.

However, there is nothing to stop you trying it out, if you have the time and a decent social following. Much of the findings on why people are following your brand speak for purchasing intentions. If your e-commerce is hosted on a platform compatible with social media commerce options, we recommend trying it out.

First and foremost, keep in mind that trust building via social media should be your priority before you attempt to sell products. If your brand doesn’t already have a good social following with regular audience-centric updates, your “buy now” options might appear suspicious. After all, when it comes to putting down personal credit/debit card information down online to continuously re-use it, there needs to be trust in the brand as much as in social media. This reflects a very valuable part of consumer behaviour we should understand better in a year or so.

Finally, consider the type of product you are selling. Interest in property, luxury fashion, diamond rings, cars or holidays is associated with a longer decision process. If your business falls into these or similar sectors social commerce might not be for you. In this case, prioritise your mobile-optimised, neatly designed website that showcases the quality of your expensive product. But, never say never: soon top social media platforms might surprise out with functions that will tackle challenges even the most complex luxury consumers face.

Sources:
http://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2015/10/facebook-adds-a-trolley-the-social-media-sites-new-e-commerce-venture
http://diligentcommerce.com/news/influencers-and-why-you-need-them/
http://www.wired.com/2015/10/facebook-testing-shopping-section-app/

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