How brands can be successful in social shopping
The fried chicken clogs that KFC and Crocs came up with must be one of the most unexpected collaborations we’ve seen in 2020. And yet the limited edition clogs were sold out within 30 minutes, even though they had an honestly questionable aesthetic value.
It was all thanks to a high profile teaser at New York Fashion Week, a skillful use of influencers (including Kim Kardashian), and an in-depth look at potential buyers’ online addiction. What could have made the collaboration even more successful was making it a social shopping experience.
Social shopping is perfect for big cultural moments like the Crocs x KFC shoe, and tech giants are adding more tools to brands to take advantage of this feature.
Where’s Social Commerce?
Shopping on social media platforms is getting more efficient as more integrations and features are added. For the past two years, Pinterest and TikTok have both signed deals with Shopify, which has a million merchants, and in 2019 Instagram finally added the ability to checkout without leaving the platform.
But the tech platforms also want the experience to be more enjoyable for users. In time for the Northern Hemisphere summer this year, Facebook added a livestream shopping series with the likes of Sephora and Clinique, giving users product demos, the opportunity to ask questions, and the opportunity to shop on the platform. And Snapchat has created similar shopping experiences through a partnership with UK resale site Poshmark called Posh Partys.
In June 2020 Instagram added Drops, a feature for limited products or collaborations with plenty of room to share. It also added live event features and other experience-related aspects that were previously missing from the shop posts.
The spread of social commerce has a long career
Social commerce is a breeze when you consider the amount of time consumers spend on social platforms. In Australia, 73 percent of adults post and interact with content when they go online.
Displaying products that people can buy with a few clicks while keeping the experience in an ecosystem they are already hanging out in is the pinnacle of smooth conversion that all brands strive for.
And if the current number of social shoppers is a benchmark, then almost a third of Australians appreciate the ease of the experience. Unsurprisingly, younger consumers are the biggest users. 38 percent of Generation Z made purchases on a social platform in the past six months, followed by 36 percent of Millennials.
Looking at the USA and Great Britain, where there have been more social shopping functions for some time, the acceptance of shoppable functions on Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and Instagram is even higher. For example, US forecasts show social commerce growth of 38 percent from 2020 to 2021.
With less than a fifth of Australian companies accepting social payments in 2019, according to PayPal research, the opportunities for Australian brands are enormous.
How can brands position themselves for this phenomenon?
The early bird catches the worm
Early adopters of a new social media feature are always the winners. You benefit from cheap algorithm discounts and can build an audience before the competition. Brands would do well to prepare now for the adoption of social shopping experiences.
Offering limited edition products through collaborations is one way to encourage buyers to meet brands on social platforms and adopt behavioral changes early on.
The KFC x Crocs collaboration could have continued to leverage social media by just posting their limited edition shoes on Instagram or Facebook instead of doing a web drop. Or the collaboration could have included a second design with additional features that was only available for purchase on social media.
Buddy up to add value
The impact of the pandemic on the physical shopping experience has created a need that social media platforms are only too happy to fulfill.
Volkswagen is making optimal use of Pinterest’s VR capabilities and is working with the social media company to not only bring Volkswagen’s new ID.4 electric vehicle to market, but also to present Pinterest’s new virtual test drive advertising experience. By tapping a button on the Promoted Pin, users can get a 360-degree view of the interior of the car while driving. Pinterest will also partner with select Pinterest creators who will guide consumers through their favorite features of the car.
With curiosity about electric cars at an all-time high, coupled with a certain reluctance to visit car dealerships after the pandemic, it’s a win for Volkswagen. It also shows other car brands what Pinterest has to offer in addition to the basic checkout functions in the area of social shopping.
There are several international and Australian examples of hashtag collaboration challenges that come into action within partnerships (double ad reach).
No content? No problem
In order for brands to access the cohort most open to social shopping experiences, they need to think younger. In many cases, this means jumping into TikTok or Snapchat. However, this can be a challenge for those who don’t have a large following or are struggling to create the kind of shareable content that the users of the platforms love.
User generated content is a smart way to let content creators do what they do best while you reward them.
Starting a hashtag challenge is the fastest way to collect creative content, as US cosmetics brand NYX demonstrated several times during the height of the pandemic last year. With a relatively small following of 22,000 users, NYX knew it took the weight of influencers to go viral with any campaign.
His #BrowFitness challenge took advantage of five influencers and asked users to share their eyebrow makeup routine with a $ 500 prize on the table. Within two days of launching, videos using the hashtag have garnered 705 million views. Similarly, the # ButterGlossPop challenge encouraged users to use NYX lip gloss in their videos, with a randomly selected winner receiving $ 1,200 worth of products. TikTok’s “Hashtag Challenge Plus” feature also allows users to purchase products that are linked to a sponsored hashtag, another attractive feature for NYX.
Hashtag challenges are also very effective when it comes to reaching more people who have not yet made social shopping a habit.
The baby and kids clothing brand Blade & Rose has launched a hashtag challenge to start their presence on TikTok. With a generous £ 300 ($ 414) in-store credit incentive, the brand encouraged users (mostly moms recently added to TikTok) to submit videos that had only one requirement: they must be the toddler of the User show.
The content was used to populate Blade & Rose’s TikTok feed and they incorporated their TikTok posts into their ecommerce store via Vop to give users a more seamless experience and Blade & Rose as part of the cultural Position the conversation. A recent hashtag collaboration generated a cheeky 16.9 billion views for L’Oréal Paris, Carol’s Daughter, Urban Decay, NYX Cosmetics, and Maybelline.
The most important findings
> Social shopping is a trend that will shape e-commerce over the next few years. In Australia, the market is pretty underdeveloped, so testing new features is now paying off for brands.
> Limited edition products, a hallmark of brand collaborations, are an ideal way to get your loyal customers into the social shopping arena.
> If you don’t have the resources or the money to make a splash, working with developers on TikTok, Snapchat, and other platforms is a good solution.
> Use the power of your fans in the places where they are already hanging out. Start a hashtag challenge to get your product to market, or better yet, work together on a hashtag to double the advertising power of your social campaign.
> The platforms themselves are also looking for ways to highlight their new shopping features. Does your product go well with any of the new experiences on offer? Could you work with a social shopping platform?
> In short, collaborating with others is a way to accelerate reach and growth in social shopping.
Jess Ruhfus is fOunder from Collabosaurus
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