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Social media and e-commerce are two very important components of modern business. These two types of commerce exchanges coincide with each other, as social commerce is what elevates e-commerce to a whole new level. While they share some similarities, some key differences between them are important to understand, especially when considering the newest way to reach Millennials and Gen Z: social commerce.
Ecommerce vs. Social Commerce
So what exactly is the difference between e-commerce and social commerce?
Ecommerce, also short for “electronic commerce,” refers to the buying and selling of goods and services online, such as online stores or a dedicated app. The ecommerce era dates back to the 1980s, with the rise of the internet and more high-end electronic devices. Nowadays, ecommerce is one of the most popular ways to purchase and sell products, with the United States reaching around 268 million digital users in 2022 (Hostinger).
Amazon is one of the leading online ecommerce stores in the United States. This online ecommerce store diversified its products into a large range of topics. Amazon has also mastered a way to get its audience (especially its younger audience) the “quick gratification” people love nowadays. But is this enough for millennials and Generation Z, who spend many hours daily on social media apps?
That being said, social commerce is the intersection of these two worlds. Social commerce elevates ecommerce by allowing users to enhance their digital experience with in-app purchases. This type of commerce revolves around brands’ marketing and allowing their consumers to purchase their services or products through various apps like Instagram, TikTok, and even Facebook. No wonder social commerce is expected to grow exponentially the next few years!
Advantages of Social Commerce
Social commerce is especially important these days, as it allows brands to reach Millennials and Gen Z, the primary social media users. These generations are more likely to make purchases through social media than older generations, and they expect a personalized, convenient, and social shopping experience. Another few advantages of social commerce include:
Maintaining a consistent audience with other brand marketing channels can be hard. People have to go out of their way to look up websites with simple ecommerce, whereas social commerce brands are constantly in front of users’ faces while scrolling through their social media.
This is especially important with millennials and Gen Z, who use social media for essentially everything in their daily lives. On top of that, utilizing social commerce almost guarantees that a brand will gain new consumers and maximize its audience growth.
Increased amounts of orders
Let’s get this out of the way – social commerce is not just about seeing and purchasing something on social media. Many things go into social commerce that millennials eat up, such as interactive lookbooks, direct checkouts, and an overall seamless shopping experience. The easiness of social commerce is what draws in consumers, Gen Z and Millennials especially, and increases the number of online orders.
Improved customer insights
Brands love to see how much traffic their websites gain or what item consumers click on the most. Customer insights are extremely important. However, they can also take a lot of time and money to gather. With the use of social commerce, brands can avoid this extra hassle because all of these social media platforms already have AI that can track these insights right on the app.
These in-app customer insights can give companies real advantages in the world of commerce. They can test initiatives to help them formulate a strategic plan to gain more consumers and overall purchases. By tracking and analyzing communication, hashtags, and mentions related to their brand, brands can identify trends, popular items, and preferences.
One of the main advantages of social commerce is found right in its name–social. Consumers love sharing their opinions on the items they buy with their friends and followers. With social commerce, consumers can quickly consult with their friends on recent purchases. They can also share their shopping experiences and provide valuable feedback to others, which helps build trust and credibility in the shopping community.
Social commerce makes shopping more interactive and appealing to millennials and Generation Z.
Utilizing Influencer Marketing Within Social Commerce
Another important factor to consider is the role of influencers in social commerce. Influencers have a large social media following that help promote products to their followers. Brands should utilize influencer marketing with influencers with an engaged following and a genuine interest in the brand’s products. This can help to build trust with customers and drive sales.
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Influencer marketing plays a huge role in the world today. Combining influencer marketing with social commerce, and allowing consumers to purchase products right from an influencer’s post, can be an extremely effective way to grow an audience and increase sales.
Overall, social media and commerce primarily focus on building and maintaining customer relationships. Social commerce allows users to share information, build trust, and create a community around a brand. By leveraging social commerce platforms and analyzing their data, brands can obtain beneficial insights into their customers’ preferences, values, and needs.
However, to utilize social commerce effectively, brands need to understand the unique characteristics of each social media platform and change their approach depending on the app. For example, Instagram is a true visual platform, so brands should focus on making their images and videos high-quality that engagingly showcase their products.
TikTok, on the other hand, is a fast-paced platform that requires quick, attention-grabbing videos that are designed to go viral. In TikTok, brands should really focus on making their videos engaging, using live feeds, and utilizing the world of influencer marketing to sell their brand.
In contrast to social commerce, ecommerce is focused on selling products or services directly to customers online and through websites. For ecommerce, it is all about the transaction and driving consumers to their websites through various marketing channels.