Social media is the new Westfield of our times – especially during this record lockdown shopping boom. Even when we’re not in lockdown, we window shop by scrolling through our Instagram feed, and if we like what we see, it’s as simple as clicking a few buttons to have it delivered and in our hands within hours. 

Not convinced it’s the new Westfield? Consider this: on average, Australians spend 5.5 hours per day on their phone, and of this, more than half of these swipes, clicks and taps are done on social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok and Instagram. 

This figure may scare some, but for curious businesses, it points to a massive opportunity to reach new customers and drive business growth — particularly through social commerce.  

Social commerce is the process of selling products directly through social media. Rather than redirecting consumers to an online store as you would with social media marketing tactics, with social commerce, consumers have the option to checkout directly through the platform. It means, when you’re ‘window shopping’ through your Instagram feed and spot someone wearing a shirt you like, you can instantly click and buy it without ever leaving the likes of Instagram. 

Instagram launched this specific social commerce feature to Australians late last year and we’ve seen savvy businesses jump on it to offer customers easy access to their products to great effect. 

In fact, almost half of those surveyed in a recent Ipos report made a purchase directly after seeing it on Instagram. It’s clear, the time is now to check out social commerce. 

Getting started with social commence — best practice tips 

Capitalising on social commerce starts by having an active presence on social media. Each platform is slightly different so it’s worth familiarising yourself with each first. From there, it’s time to start thinking about selling. 

Here are a few steps to maximise your impact and outcomes:  

  • Make clear plans about what and how you are going to sell via social media

Let’s take Instagram as an example here. The platform started as a picture sharing app, with an array of image editing tools and sharing features that users resonated with, so high quality or quirky visual messages are key to the platform’s DNA. It also makes it perfect for visual commerce, so your social commerce content needs to work with that power. 

Quality images, executed well with your product at the centre of it is key. In today’s context, that does not have to mean expensive photography shoots. Just some creativity and consistency in presentation. If you don’t have a brand style guide or an image style guide, and you don’t feel that creative, then get some advice. With a proper plan, you can build a consistent brand message and make sure your products get noticed in your customer’s feeds.

  • Drive discovery with hashtags 

Hashtags are to social media what keywords are to Google — they’re critical to driving brand visibility. In a highly saturated marketplace, adding the right hashtags will help Instagram figure out what your post is about. This improves the chances of your post showing up, not just in searches for those hashtags, but also in the Explore pages for people who are interested in similar posts. 

Simply put, hashtags improve the chances of prospective customers discovering your posts and products. So, if you want to get more sales via social media, you need to beef up your posts with relevant hashtags. 

Typically, you should use hashtags that describe your product, for example, #handmadejewellery or #silverearrings. But, you can also use phrases specifically relevant to your brand, such as #Glossier or #Nike.

  • Entice through words and get creative with captions

While your visuals are there to instantly capture attention, they may not always be enough to convince people to buy the product. 

That’s where your captions come in; they give more context to the post and allow you to make a case for the product you’re selling. 

Make sure your captions give people a reason to convert. Use them to relate to the audience, evoke a certain emotion, and give a call-to-action

  • Focus on conversion and sales

The best strategy to drive conversion and sales is to measure, iterate and learn with content through a trial and test approach. The more you test, reviewing the results along the way, the sooner you will be able to refine your social commerce strategy.

Here at Metigy, we use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-based learning to do this work for brands, so they are offered a set of strategic insights to amplify outcomes based on what’s working. AI has the power to support social commerce by analysing data about a core demographic, including their interests, preferences and keyword searches. This can then be used to launch social commerce campaigns and help build critical brand awareness across diverse markets.

Consumers are turning to social media to discover new products creating a powerful opportunity for brands. It starts with being present on social media and taking advantage of the commerce features already available. So what are you waiting for? 

David Fairfull is CEO and co-founder of Metigy.