The Current State of Shoppable Social Media
With Christmas round the corner, we are being bombarded with deals, offers, sales and various campaigns delivered by brands and retailers desperate for you to choose them over all the competition.
Digital Marketers have often struggled to measure the true value social media has on ROI as it’s main use is for building brand advocates and loyalty among customers. With this in mind, as more and more consumers use social platforms as a point of contact with brands, it only makes sense that businesses are trying to cut out the process of driving them to their websites in order to make a purchase; turn their social accounts into “ecommerce platforms”.
This isn’t a new concept though; multiple platforms have been trying to force their way into the retail side for a while now, although not necessarily with much success… yet.
The Buy Button
In July of this year Facebook started testing a method of purchasing products without having to leave the site at all. Their “Buy” button has been slowly being tested across a number of small businesses in the US.
So far there’s no definitive source that tells us when this will be rolled out to the masses, allowing all businesses to take advantage of the new source of revenue. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t look like it’ll be before 2015 meaning they’ll miss out on the Christmas impulse buys.
Facebook isn’t the only social network to take this leap. The #AmazonBasket (also referred to as the #AmazonCart in the US) was a joint venture between Twitter and Amazon where you can add items into your basket simply by using the hashtag. Although you still have to visit the Amazon website to complete your purchase, you are able to do so in your own time without detouring from your current online activity.
The real-time buying this process allows, means that although users still have to eventually go to the Amazon website, you can grab the deal there and then and they’re even planning on introducing new methods of completing the purchase. These new methods could include an email, text message or even a thumbprint – welcome to the digital age!
Despite Tumblr recently taking the gold medal from Instagram for fastest growing social media site, Instagram remains at the top of the food chain for user engagement and popularity. In fact, studies have suggested that posts by top brands generate up to 58x greater engagement than Facebook and 120x more than Twitter.
Although Instagram doesn’t allow links in the posts themselves, they can include them in the comment section. The downside to this is that these links aren’t clickable, meaning users will have to copy and paste them into their browser – a lot of faff for an item they were considering to impulsively buy.
Some US retailers – Nordstrom and Target – are currently using a service called Like2Buy. Since the only clickable link you can add is in the profile’s description line, Like2Buy gives you a URL which takes you through to a landing page featuring all of the items available to buy that have been posted on Instagram. By liking an image, the tool stores this onto an Instagram-like site where users only have to click on an individual post to be taken to that product’s landing page on the retailer’s site.
Michael Kors is one of the latest brand to take a crack at making the photo sharing network shoppable. Being the most searched for fashion designer on Microsofts’ Bing and having a hefty 3.1 million followers on Instagram, they are in a fantastic position to leverage their online popularity.
#InstaKors allows users to register their email addresses and IG user name so the company can email them with the products they “liked”. This so far appears to be one of the slightly more seamless methods after the initial registering is completed.
Again, this is quite the effort for a product you might not be hugely keen on. It is definitely proving difficult to create an easy way to monetise your Instagram feed, especially without the use of third party aids/sites.
The future of social shopping
The benefit of having one-click buying capabilities on your social ads and posts is that brands will get a wealth of data showing which are most likely to lead to a sale. Click through data is fine but knowing what’s leading users to actually buy will help brands target their posts far more effectively.
The biggest obstacle on Instagram that needs to be overcome is the lack of linking capabilities in posts. Currently, there are few methods that potentially shorten the sales funnel; but since these types of purchases will mostly be “impulse buys” it can still take enough time to put them off all together. If Instagram are able to replicate the #AmazonCart on Twitter, they will be able to take the long buying process out and be less likely to result in drop-offs.
Despite the limitations, retailers are definitely trying to leverage their social following to turn likes into sales. So keep a watchful eye out in 2015 as brands aren’t showing any signs of giving up.