Everybody is talking about social commerce these days, and for good reason. In the US alone, social commerce sales will top $90 million in 2021. Last year, global social commerce sales absolutely exploded, reaching an eye-popping $474.7 billion.
So what is social commerce exactly? Basically, it’s when brands use their social media feeds to promote and sell products to consumers directly.
In some cases, a post or a video will include a link to a product page, but increasingly, consumers can actually complete the entire purchase from within the feed itself (kind of an ideal situation for consumers who don’t want to interrupt what they’re doing to visit an ecommerce in order to complete a purchase).
Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shops, along with a host of digital wallets means consumers don’t need to dig out their credit cards in order to complete a purchase. Headless commerce - i.e. decoupling the customer-facing frontend of an ecommerce site from the backend - allows brands to turn their social media posts into a point-of-sale.
There are a lot of really compelling reasons to get into the social commerce game, as Cakeworthy, a pop-culture clothier, can tell you.
Cakeworthy is a brand for people who want to purchase cool Disney, WarnerBros, and other entertainment-focused merch that’s made specifically for adults. The company was launched in 2014, when its founder and CEO, Brandon Shedden, got his hands on a home craft screen printing kit and began printing Disney-themed tee-shirts to sell on Etsy. The tees were an instant success and gained a loyal fan base.
Cakeworthy specializes in limited edition runs. It’s Rainbow Mickey overalls are so cool they can sell out in a flash, and they’ll likely never be produced again. While that’s great for pop-culture enthusiasts eager to collect limited edition items, it presents some challenges for Cakeworthy marketers. The go-to tools of digital marketers - SEO, display campaigns, newsletter promotions - don’t work very well for fast-selling limited runs. By the time someone sees the ad the items are long gone.
Enter social commerce.
Cakeworthy announces its new collections on Instagram, and word of their arrival, amplified by paid social media ads, spreads fast. It doesn’t take long for items to begin flying off the shelf. Social commerce is ideal for the brand, because social media is so here-and-now, just like it’s product.
As for ongoing marketing, Cakeworthy leverages UGC as they know that customers want to see their products on other real people. Brand enthusiasts get a kick out of sharing images of themselves in Cakeworthy gear, and that inspires other customers to follow their example. UGC provides another critical benefit: providing customers with real-world examples of how they can pair Cakeworthy items with other clothes.
Working with Gorgias & Exclusive Concepts
One of the more challenging aspects of social commerce is responding to customer questions. Some posts can generate hundreds of comments and questions, all of which need to be acknowledged quickly, and on-message. To meet this challenge, Cakeworthy turned to Gorgias.
“What I love most about Gorgias is that it centralizes all of the questions and comments in one spot, and that makes it so much easier to respond quickly. We can also forward certain questions to the best people in the office to answer them,” - Sarah Russo, Marketing Manager, Cakeworthy
For instance, their CEO likes to answer questions about charitable donations or upcoming collections. Sarah likes to answer questions about the size a particular model is wearing, so they go to her. Many questions (shipping, returns, size, fit) are routine, and are answered using macros, enabling Cakeworthy to automate as much as possible without losing the human touch.
“Whenever we have a product launch, we just just send them the visuals and captions and Exclusive Concepts takes it from there. They’ll test audiences and then focus our budget on the ones delivering the best ROI. It’s so easy.” - Sarah Russo, Marketing Manager, Cakeworthy
Exclusive Concepts also A/B tests ads to see which performs better. Sometimes an influencer’s UGC performs better than a Cakeworthy ad, and when that’s the case, the influencer’s UGC is prioritized.
Tips for Launching a Successful Social Commerce Initiative
#1: Stick to Your Brand Tone
People come to your brand because they like your promise, and what you represent. Don’t try to morph into something else just because you’re on social media.
#2: Leverage UGC
Embrace user-generated content, especially the customer testimonials. Some brands even link their Instagram feed to their ecommerce site to make maximum use of their UCG.
#3: Use Social Media's Immediacy to Drive Hype
Social media is a perfect venue to announce product drops or big promotions. People sign on to social media because they have free time on their hands and are inherently open to new experiences.
#4: Develop a Paid Social Strategy
Work with an agency like Exclusive Concepts to develop a paid social strategy, including audience development and testing, as well as A/B testing ad creatives.
#5: Be Ready to Answer Your Customers
Ensure you have the right tools like Gorgias in place to answer your customers questions across all channels. Also use machine learning to track high-intent comments that could convert to customers.