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How ecommerce has paved the way for influencer-driven social commerce

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Q&A with Sanchit Sareen, Customer Success Lead, Activate & Impact EMEA 

Why is social commerce so important in 2021?

It will come as no surprise to most marketers that ecommerce has evolved into social commerce as the global lockdown forced consumers online. Whilst the social commerce phenomenon certainly isn’t a new one, it has boomed during the pandemic. The global social commerce market is estimated to expand to £434.55bn by 2027, according to Business AM Live and is predicted to explode into a $2 trillion market globally by 2024.

After announcing a global partnership with Shopify last year, the growing social media platform TikTok is now allowing merchants to reach the lucrative Gen Z audience to drive increased sales. Indeed, trending hashtags like #tiktokmademebuyit have attracted more than 2bn views, with customers and creators sharing their exciting purchases inspired by the app, says TikTok’s Marketing Product Lead, Samer Ragheb.

For both brands and influencers, social commerce provides a golden opportunity. Recruiting new social partners and then tracking the sales they drive, seamlessly, are the fundamentals we continually see behind successful social commerce.

How is Facebook leading the way in social commerce?

Influencers or content creators, as many of them prefer to be called, play a significant role in driving social commerce. Whilst many of the leading apps and platforms have found their groove with social commerce, Facebook continues to carve a path enabling brands and creators to leverage consumers’ appetite for purchasing products via social media.

Following the launch of Instagram and Facebook Shops last year, the social media giant has announced new tools like revenue sharing and an improved influencer marketplace to connect users and brands. Zuckerberg also says Instagram is also working on an improved branded content marketplace that would seek to match relevant brands and creators for promotional campaigns.

As social commerce continues to grow and influencers seek more seamless ways to partner with brands to promote products, marketers should pay close attention to social media platforms that look to supercharge ecommerce sales.

How can brands optimise influencer activity to boost sales?

Savvy marketers should already be implementing strategies to optimise influencer partnerships to drive social commerce sales. Retail businesses tend to be the biggest users of influencer partnerships, using around 18 each on average, so ensure you build the influencer portfolio that works for your industry and your business. Go beyond branding and performance with different types of partners to drive different types of results across different social platforms. Influencer marketing remains a key performance channel, so give influencers the freedom to be themselves and provide a sense of escapism on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

It is also worth remembering that the most effective partnership programmes are those that are built for the long term, so think ahead. Figures show long-term, mutually trusting influencer relationships invariably outperform hastily assembled, ad-hoc strategies, and there’s no end of incentive to keep working diligently towards a mature strategy.

How can brands provide a more human touch to engage consumers?

After a challenging year for most, consumers are expecting much more from the brands they follow – especially when it comes to social impact. Using influencers to give a human face to a brand particularly in challenging times can be vital for consumers who look to their favourite influencers for a sense of authenticity.

We’ve seen how influencers are playing an increasingly important role in communicating with consumers to provide consistency in a world where everything has changed. HelloFresh got it right, using influencer partnerships to talk about cooking from scratch and its ability to give focus to a day that has lost much of its usual structure. There were calls to action, of course, but also an overarching sense of care for people’s health and wellbeing.

What are some social commerce trends marketers should consider implementing?

An omnichannel retail strategy will continue to be critical as brands seek practical ways to meet the evolving needs of consumers. Expect to see an increased use of video and live streaming. TikTok videos and Instagram Reels fronted by content creators will enable brands to reach a broader audience looking for escapist branded content in an engaging and creative format. Going beyond traditional digital advertising channels, more and more brands will choose to offer a quicker more seamless sales cycle by providing easy payment options within social platforms.