Social Commerce, the online battle for the most sought-after demographic

Social Commerce
Michele Caprini
10 Jul 2018

For consumer brands, Social Commerce means three things: brand awareness, opportunities to increase online sales, and pre- and post-sales services to customers.

Gartner L2 has just published "Social Platforms and Influencers 2018", to compare the performance of 424 brands in relation to the current social media landscape, identifying their presence and consumer relationship strategies.

One figure above all demonstrates the trend in this particular sector: 66 percent of the brands that were considered have adopted social commerce functions in the last year.

"Social Commerce" implies the chosen demographic in the expression itself - the digital native generation and those who have gained a preference for and continued spending power through eCommerce. A demographic that, over time, is proving increasingly difficult to reach with traditional marketing methods.

Whilst the attention to this new channel is justified by its potential, it must, however, be noted that it does not yet generate significant sales volumes. According to eMarketer, one of the most quoted international research companies on the subject of online markets since 1996, about 34% of online consumers had not yet bought anything on social networks by the end of 2017.

A family fight

Since the main social media sites have started to offer more commercial functions, about 41% of brands have decided to purchase space on Instagram, and 17% have instead chosen Facebook, with an identical promotional approach. Zuckerberg's company with its "Shop Now" button, which links to the brands' websites where users can make purchases directly, was chosen by over half of the subjects studied.

It must be remembered, however, that we are talking about "competitors" as a figure of speech, given that Instagram has recently been described as "Facebook's  best investment in its history" by the financial services company The Motley Fool. Through the parent company, Twitter and Instagram, it is involved in over 90% of total social media interactions.

Directly or indirectly?

Now the battle is moving away from social media and towards the distribution channels. According to several analysts, "Shop Now" and similar functions implemented in the immediate future could favour brands that prioritise direct relationships with consumers.  This trend is, however, increasingly strong, and the recent success of shoe sales promoted by Nike through the Facebook Messenger chatbot has probably opened the eyes of many.

The traditional mediation of eCommerce platforms could therefore be hindered, but the game has just begun and predictions are as difficult as ever.