Social commerce is not slowing down, based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers from Sprout Social, with over two-thirds of respondents saying they make a purchase through a social channel in 2021, and a whopping 98% saying they planned to do so this year.
The influence of friends is a major factor on social purchases, the survey found, with more than half – 56% – saying they found the “perfect product” either through a friend’s post, being tagged themselves or having content sent to them.
“As consumers get more engaged on social media, they’re sharing more content with peer groups, and sharing their own content,” said Mike Blight, a senior market research and insights manager with Sprout Social. “Brands are getting more sophisticated at leveraging user-generated content (UGC), and it has a cyclical effect. A girl shares the lipstick she bought, the brands then sees it and leverages it, and also her friends get to see it. It’s a double purposed bit of content, tangential effect on the brand.”
The reach of brands to consumers in social is still a major factor in the purchase decision. Sprout Social found that 49% found their perfect product through a targeted ad, while 40% said an organic brand post did the trick.
Among the demographic distinctions, digitally immersed Gen Z shoppers were impacted most in terms of driving social commerce purchases by visual-first social networks like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, while boomers connected most often with Facebook. Women in general tended toward TikTok and Pinterest, while men gravitated toward Twitter and Twitch.
While many brands and retailers already have a strong social presence, with large followings and a good cadence of scheduling and posting content, not all have made the leap into commerce, Blight said. And there’s plenty of share for them to capture and start selling on social platforms.
“The main consideration is, how do we as a brand leverage our products in a way that meets end users where they are?” he said. “Versus the traditional model of 10 years ago when people came to businesses, brands now have a unique opportunity to meet them where they are, leveraging social data to see how customers are engaging with content. For some brands, their customers are big into video, but it may not be applicable for an adjacent brand.”
The channel lines can tend to get blurred as well, Blight said, with experiences from one impacting others and playing off them.
“It’s not as clear cut as, here’s social commerce, then you draw a line and here’s a brick-and-mortar store,” he said. “If you build a strong online relationship, it’s an opportunity to extend that relationship in person through something like curbside pickup. There are a lot of important touchpoints, and hitting all the levels is daunting at first, but it’s critical to building relationships.”