Buy buttons on social media platforms are rapidly becoming more commonplace - in fact, they just might be the future of e-commerce shopping. With users spending about 1.72 hours a day on social media (accounting for 28% of online activity), social media as an avenue for e-commerce is looking more and more likely as companies scramble to stabilize their conversion rates.
Within the past two years, most of the massive social media platforms have announced plans to either test or introduce some version of a buy button, working on the chance to turn their social networks and discovery platforms into shopping malls as well.
Sites such as Facebook and Tumblr use their detailed formats to provide a place for product writeups, while Instagram and Pinterest allow a more visual delivery of the products advertised.Here are some reasons why and how social media buy buttons are changing the course of e-commerce in the near future:
Provides tight experience through mobile usage
According to a report by eMarketer, most of the social media traffic in the UK alone is driven by mobile users. With the emphasis of social media on real-time events combined with the convenience of checking them on mobile devices, it allows for a new dimension of product placement.
A good example of this is sports. Many sports fans follow their teams on social networks, and the teams themselves often use social media to promote upcoming appearances, games, and other merchandise.
The Atlanta Hawks selling limited-offer tickets via Twitter was part of the earliest forays of Twitter into buy buttons. Given Twitter’s emphasis on real-time happenings centered around its 140 character count, limited time sports offers have two distinct advantages to them being sold in this manner:
1. It allows for a specific kind of marketing that’s centered around an event - think of browsing through a merchandise booth, but through mobile. IT allows the fans that are following the events in real time through their devices to take advantage of things like limited offers or event-only merchandise.
2. The second advantage is that social media is already one of the largest brand-to-consumer channels, and once companies engage their audience through social media, it often builds a direct relationship that could boost conversion rates. Taking the buy button into account, it also allows for an easier process between the frequency of how people browse social media and how often do they do it through their mobile devices.
Allows for targeted shopping and customer engagement
According to statistics portal Statista, Facebook had about 1.59 billion active users by the last quarter of 2015. The same study also found that around 93% of business marketers use Facebook to market their brand. Buy buttons come into this equation due to Facebook’s - and, in general, social media’s - ability to tailor their feeds (and thus their products) to their audience.
Algorithmic timelines have been around for awhile, and more and more social media sites such as Twitter have already begun experimenting with them. However, Facebook shows the advantage of this approach to e-commerce the best.
Facebook’s algorithmic timelines take into consideration the user’s browsing habits and experience online, and adjusts what appears on their feed accordingly. This also includes ads, which is good news for around 2 million companies that use Facebook as a platform for advertising - and who use buy buttons.
A tailored feed enables users and customers to see the products that are based on their social media browsing habits, which can help push up conversion rates due to the relevancy and existing interest.
Buy buttons capitalize on this, allowing users to immediately transition to the buying process for a product that they already see on their feeds. In addition to that, algorithmic timelines also allow customers to post their own feedback on the product or service, therefore expanding awareness and purchase of your products via their own networks.
Facebook has already partnered with e-commerce store Shopify to deliver their products using Facebook’s algorithmic feed, making it responsible for about 85 percent of social media purchases.
Shortens the discovery to purchase journey
One of the problems that plague online e-commerce is the relative lack of “impulse buy” moments - where a customer may only potentially be browsing and/or has already made a purchase and ends up buying something else as well. Another challenge that online retailers face is the high rate of cart abandonment on mobile devices, simply because the checkout process is too long and the customer quickly loses interest.
Social media buy buttons help this process by drastically shortening the discovery, desire, purchase and possession process, thus allowing for a higher conversion rate than before.
As social media platforms are full of conversion opportunities due to the visual and shareable nature of information available, uers often look to social media as platforms for discovery and inspiration: "Oh, look that that dress that Angelina Jolie is wearing in this Instagram post! Where can I find something like that?"
The buy buttons that proliferate social media remove the friction and cut out all the unecessary steps in between from inspiration to purchase. One click and your consumers are well on their way to ordering celebrity-lookalike outfits off your store.
One good example of this is Pinterest, which vastly expanded its “buyable pins” option to reach a wider audience last year. The buyable pins feature provides a much easier checkout process, integrates itself well to applications such as Apple Pay, and offers a distinct advantage against traditional online marketing’s lengthy forms.
Social media buy buttons: Making buying much easier
Buy buttons are already starting to gain traction among today’s buyers, as most companies have an already strong social media presence, and the precedent for the online buy is already well-established. Social media buy buttons could very well be the final piece in the puzzle to give credence to the saying “shop at the click of a button.”
As said by Nathan Hubbard, Twitter's head of commerce, "The goal for all our commerce initiatives on Twitter is simple: make it as easy as possible for businesses to connect directly with, and sell to, customers on Twitter. With Buy Now, businesses can drive more conversions and remove much of the friction in the mobile purchasing process."
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