Is social commerce the new HSN?
How in-app shopping has changed the consumer landscape — and the best ways to capitalize on it.
Written by: Robin Greenbaum, Paid Social Specialist at Norbella
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying I’ve bought something I didn’t really “need” while browsing my news feed. I mean, those boots were cute, but my closet didn’t really have the space for them. As people continue to shop for everything from toilet paper to engagement rings online, it’s evident that Facebook’s move into the e-commerce space was a smart decision. With the population’s average daily screen time on the rise, the social giant has provided millions of retailers the opportunity to sell their goods within the platform.
How it all began.
Facebook first started making it possible for people to shop from their favorite brands in 2009 when Facebook Shop Sections were announced. Brands could create a store on Facebook which was accessible through a tab displayed on their business page, back when tabs were a dominant feature of business pages.
Fast forward a few years to the introduction of the “Buy” button, which enabled users to be able to purchase a product within the mobile app. To improve shopping in-app, Facebook subsequently introduced dynamic product ads. This update provided advertisers with the capability to upload a product catalog and advertise all available inventory or featured merchandise. Across all devices, brands can now easily increase conversions with the ability to retarget site visitors with units that display products previously viewed on the website. Cart abandoners can be retargeted to encourage a purchase completion, or a brand can upsell or cross-sell recent customers.
Better late than never.
Facebook isn’t the only social network with in-app shopping options. Pinterest jumped on the bandwagon with “Buyable Pins” in 2017, now known as “Product Pins” and Snapchat released “Shop and Cop” in late 2018. More brands have started to use Pinterest’s shopping options, but Facebook offers the most user-friendly platform for selling and shopping.
As quick as Facebook started to be one of the top 2 digital advertising giants, in-app shopping opportunities exploded. The “buy” button became an even stronger call to action with its change to “Shop Now.” Instagram Stories, one of the biggest growing post formats with over 300 million daily views, released an organic shopping feature in late 2018. Knowing all this, Facebook is taking the next step to being the number one online shopping destination with the introduction of a new standalone Instagram shopping app. IG Shopping (the name has not yet been confirmed) “will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app.”
What it means for your brand.
The question is — what will it take for users to voluntarily download yet another app on their phone? Providing a place to easily peruse a brand’s products without being inundated with ads or organic content might be a good place to start. But what if Facebook could find a way to integrate this shopping feature within Instagram’s existing app? They’d be providing a simple, streamlined user experience that most have come to expect — and even require — from their online shopping endeavors. That just might be too attractive for users to resist.
Regardless of the platform’s evolution, this is an incredibly lucrative opportunity for brands. With all of the dynamic features Facebook offers now to tailor ads to individual users, the seamless in-app purchasing process will likely be a motivator to users.
From my experience with retail clients, social media has become a more advantageous and affordable platform to promote products and collect revenue. Retailers can market their goods both organically and in paid formats with a variety of features designed to guide consumers through the sales cycle. Facebook even has objectives in Ads Manager broken out by where the unit falls in the marketing funnel. Costs of acquiring a customer are now well below what SEM and display can often cost and that’s great for their overall bottom line. Social can now be included as a bottom-funnel tactic and brands are finding that it’s really working.
While Facebook probably won’t ever be the e-commerce giant that is Amazon, it is continuously working to prove its value as an advertising platform. With all of the data breaches and privacy concerns in 2018, Facebook has a lot of work to do to keep brands from moving their digital advertising dollars elsewhere. Will this new app keep brands drinking the Facebook Kool-Aid or will it become a failed attempt by Facebook that ends in another discontinued product?
Robin Greenbaum is the Paid Social Specialist at Norbella. Robin balances her time between her passion for animals and the search for her next meal.