Influencer Marketing and eCommerce: Social Commerce is on The Rise
There is no doubt that our technology driven, fast-paced world is focused on convenience and simplicity. Now more than ever we have the ability to make purchases and sell with the tap of a button, which completely reframes brick and mortar businesses' approach to getting through to consumers.
Social media is the powerhouse in our society, changing the way we shop. While at first it seemed to be a threat for B2C companies, it actually forced people to adapt to our new way of life.
Product endorsements are about as old as advertising itself, but in today’s technology-driven world, they’ve come to play an even greater role in driving sales than ever before. That’s primarily thanks to the development of in-platform purchasing on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
Social commerce, i.e. purchases made through social media channels instead of through an e-commerce platform or website, is growing in popularity—both for brands and their customers. Although the concept has been around since at least 2005, it’s only in more recent years that social sales channels have really taken off, with $23 billion in sales in 2020.
Brands that want to leverage social channels for sales have a number of options available to them. They can certainly set up sales through their own social channels where possible, but building an audience on a number of social networks can be expensive and time-consuming. Sure, businesses can—and do—pay for sponsored posts to help promote their products. But those ads often lack authority, and plenty of users have experienced disappointment in products that don’t look as good in real life as they did online.
That’s where social influencers and product endorsements come in. Let’s take a closer look at the world of social influencers, and how brands can leverage them to grow their business.
Social Media Influencers and Social Commerce
Influencers can take advantage of this new fusion with Shopify in many ways. First and foremost, it can help them monetize their channels with shoppable product endorsements. This will likely lead to longer brand activations rather than just working with a brand once. Not to mention that by working with a brand for a longer period creates more trust and familiarity between buyer and creator.
According to Business Insider, brands are estimated to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022: “As social media becomes more entrenched in people's lives and takes on more functional uses beyond communication, like shopping, the role of influencers is set to only grow. And as e-commerce and social media converge, influencers will become increasingly vital intermediaries, helping to connect brands with consumers on social media in highly resonant, authentic ways that can deliver immediate returns.”
In the past, consumers that shopped online would use things like reviews on a product to help leverage their purchasing decision. People are becoming visual learners, by using influencers rather than normal ads, the more likely they are to buy because the product is being used in real life than just an edited photo.
Aside from assisting brands to continue their growth, influencers also have an opportunity to create and sell their own products directly through these channels, which allows them to create a new stream of income. While many influencers have begun to come up with their own product, this new partnership allows for it to be a more seamless process for both the creator and their audience.
Social commerce is taking over the retail space quickly—both for brands and their customers. While online purchasing has been around for years now, it is as of recently that with the tap of a button one can view the price of an item and add to cart.
It can be a challenge, however, to efficiently coordinate marketing to a shopper on both the web and in a social platform, so connecting the campaign between social media and non-social platforms is crucial. This is essentially remarketing.
Remarketing also allows you to capture the attention of the visitors to your website who did not make a purchase. This type of marketing also helps you increase your brand awareness, especially as society is beginning to stray away from huge grand openings and allows you to become an authority on your products.
A perfect example of retail stores beginning to make strategic plans to shift from storefront to solely e-commerce include the Gap Inc. According to the Chicago Tribune: “San Francisco-based Gap Inc. in October announced a three-year plan to close 220 Gap stores and 130 Banana Republic shops, or about 30% of its total locations in North America. The company said it planned to focus on outlets and e-commerce.”
This new method of shopping through social networks, while it can be expensive and time consuming, generates more revenue than traditional sponsored product posts due to it being much more personal and creates credibility. Oftentimes, with regular sponsored posts, consumers tend to be more unhappy than pleased with their purchase due to them realizing it doesn’t have the effect or appearance as portrayed on the sponsored photo or video ad. This new partnership erases doubt for consumers because they know that an influencer would hardly risk their reputation solely to sign to a deal they didn’t believe in and the represented brand often requires the creator to demo the product.
The importance of measuring Influencer Marketing
Measuring the impact of an influencer ad is crucial because frequent monitoring not only assists with understanding what is and isn’t working but also enables a company to really utilize paid media and boost the well performing content to a broader audience. Without keeping a close eye on how well a post is performing, it is quite counterproductive to continue putting promotional funds behind it. It is also vital for a successful campaign to track measurement because some smaller niche influencers hold more value than a top dollar one. Checking in on things like conversions, ROI, click through rate and cost per click are what is really going to get a company the most bang out of their buck during a campaign. Lumanu seamlessly integrates with Ads Manager and can help you easily combine Paid Media and Influencer Marketing. Recommended Reading: What is Influencer Whitelisting
TikTok + Shopify
TikTok is one of the main social platforms that is growing at an insane rate, causing brands and influencers to tap into social commerce strategy as an effective marketing tool.
TikTok may be effective for social commerce itself, but when combined with influencer endorsements, it adds an extra layer of authenticity. Influencers have worked hard to build trust with their audience. It’s this trust that is so valuable as it extends to the product the influencer promotes.
Further, TikTok automatically tailors videos to the user’s tastes and actively encourages engagement. Combine with influencer content to generate a dramatic increase in brand exposure and a higher chance of revenue increase.
According to USA Today, over 88% of TikTok users said that they discover new content that they enjoy while using the app. This highlights the impact of influencer marketing and social media, in general, on purchasing decisions, especially within a younger audience.
As such, Shopify has recently announced a deal with TikTok, giving merchants access to new and engaged audiences. They can now create and connect a TikTok For Business account with their Shopify store to deploy shoppable video ads.
All the merchant has to do is select the product they’d like to feature within the ad and the video generates automatically to drive users to the store. Businesses of all sizes can get involved too; ready-made templates allow retailers to use their existing videos or content within the ads.
Our digital age has shifted many old habits into sleek new ones. Brand ads and billboards of the past are now being swapped with utilizing influencer marketing and online shopping. By using content creators in social commerce, brands are guaranteed to work with storytellers and trendsetters rather than actors one would see in a scripted commercial. The focus with creators is highlighting authenticity and creating a sense of community. In fact, influencer marketing plays a huge role in allowing brands to continue to flourish when hardships such as COVID-19 affect the economy and require the company to move their budgets to online representation. This is certainly a trend we expect to continue as we begin 2021.
About the author:
Alessandro Bogliari is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Influencer Marketing Factory, a global influencer marketing agency that helps companies get in front of Gen Z & Millennials on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.