You may have seen the odd button or call to action on posts during the past few months; a subtle but increasingly popular way to shop without leaving the comfort of your social networks. Social shopping is here, and it’s set to boom during the next few years, while changing how we shop online.
The value of social media when it comes to shopping is due to the power it has over us, how it influences and shapes our decisions when it comes to buying online. People search social platforms while shopping, finding reviews and special offers for example. Their peers and communities will help influence purchases and this is where brands can step in and make their mark.
The rise of social media has been instrumental for consumers who have wanted to connect directly with their brands. Smart companies have embraced the change and made social media a large part of their marketing plans, creating and joining in with the relevant communities, and establishing themselves as the brands that understand their customers.
But then there are plenty of companies that haven’t kept up with the social media movement and are still lagging behind even as social media shopping moves into the next phase.
While social platforms have been used for years by retailers to direct consumers to their websites and stores, platforms are making it even simpler for people to buy the items they see on their newsfeeds.
In July Facebook announced that it is testing a buy button on adverts in the US allowing visitors to buy directly from companies without having to be transferred externally to the company website. This has huge potential implications for Facebook; visitors could spend more time on the site, use it in a new way – for retail experiences completely tailored to their requirements – and extend the lifespan of this saturated network.
It was also in July that Twitter also made the announcement that it has acquired CardSpring, an API that lets developers build applications for payment cards. The buy button is currently undergoing testing in the US, allowing some users to see the buy button on products in their newsfeeds, meaning people can buy through Twitter. It has also teamed with Amazon so that followers can respond to a product tweet with the #AmazonCart, putting the product into their basket.
Instagram is keeping up with the Joneses with the launch of Like2Buy, a service that allows a brand’s followers click on the link in the brand’s profile page which will list everything the company has for sale. One click on the image and it takes you to a secure mobile site to pay for the item. If you can’t pay now, then Instagram allows you to build up a wish list of items to buy later.
Pinterest is a network that shouldn’t be ignored by brands, as this is the channel where shoppers are 10 per cent more likely to make a purchase when they are directed from the network to a website than any other social network. At the moment there isn’t the opportunity to buy directly through Pinterest but it won’t be long before the network finds a way to let brands sell their wares and services online.
Ecommerce is the way forward it seems for social media.
Twitter has never been shy in its ambitions. Back in 2012 Dick Costolo, the company’s CEO, said they were investigating ecommerce and researching how it could fit in with the Twitter model.
Facebook has tested a number of ways to engage with its users in the past, including introducing the marketplace as well as a virtual currency. Both were short-lived as users ignored these extensions to the network. It didn’t fit with how they used social media.
Social media has changed significantly over the past few years, especially with the rise of promoted tweets and posts, meaning network visitors are used to seeing adverts in their newsfeeds. It’s now just a short step from seeing adverts and familiar products on page to clicking a button to buy them.