Social media has become more than a just a touchpoint in the consumer journey. It is now a place where shoppers can discover products, obtain relevant information quickly, and make purchases all the while enjoying the entertainment it offers. Significant consumer activity emerged on platforms such as Facebook (55%), Instagram (54%), YouTube (49%), TikTok (32%) in 2021. Sprout Social Index 2021 states, 76% of consumers used social media more in since the Covid-19 pandemic hit and 63% purchased on it.
Retailers are increasingly understanding the benefits of social media selling and starting to control this touchpoint to maximise revenue. So, what is it about social media that attracts consumers and retailers?
According to Statista’s research, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide in 2020, which is expected to increase to almost 4.41 billion by 2025. This is a large number of the global population who can be considered prospects waiting to be converted to customers. The trick is to use social media platforms to build relationships with consumers, establish your brand, and give current customers a space to advocate your brand.
54% of consumers said they use social media to research products and services; 83% use Instagram for discovery; and 87% took action such as making a purchase or seeking information after discovering a product on social media.
Therefore, social media reach is unmatched by brick-and-mortar store or ecommerce sites foot traffic.
Marketing through social media is super fun and easy. The algorithm on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are highly accurate, helping retailers reach targeting followers directly. For example, companies like Nike run custom-tailored ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to have their products go directly into the feeds of users who have searched for products that fits description or similar.
Social media also provides the opportunity to display creative content on the brand and its products. Consumers prefer that to traditional forms of marketing as it is entertaining, helps them find products easily, and doesn’t come across as salesy – the brand feels more authentic and the shopping experience is good.
Influencer marketing and live streaming have also become important touchpoints for consumers. Once you pick the right influencer for your brand, they will do the heavy lifting and attract interested buyers. The live streaming market alone is expected to reach almost $224 billion by 2028. In China, where it is most established, live steam shopping accounted for $180 billion revenue in 2020.
Overall, 90% of marketeers said social media marketing has increased their business exposure to relevant shoppers. And both retailers and consumers benefit: for retailers, you get your message across and collect data on consumers; for consumers, it’s a more enjoyable shopping experience. 79% of social media shoppers say that user-generated content significantly impacts their purchasing decisions.
Social media also gives retailers a platform to connect with consumers and improve brand image.
Firstly, they can inform consumers of new products, how they can be used, and even send well-wishes on special days such as Christmas, New Year, Valentines etc to establish a relationship.
Secondly, they can be social on social media to engage consumers. Constantly communicating with consumers, dealing with orders, providing information on products, and guiding them through the purchasing journey can be done in real time using chatbots, messaging, and FAQs. Moreover, they can use social media to repost good reviews and apologise for any bad experiences. This will attract trusting and loyal customers who are highly engaged.
In summary, retailer have understood social media is where a large volume of potential customers can be found. They are willing to engage with creative brands who offer great customer service and shopping experience.