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Make it Big Podcast: Tapping Into Social Commerce Success with Meta
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Welcome to The Make it Big Podcast, a bi-weekly audio series about all things ecommerce by BigCommerce.
In this episode, Meta’s Derek Netto joins BigCommerce’s Melissa Dixon to share social commerce success strategies, specifically on Instagram. Get an inside look into the latest social commerce trends, how to sell more with Instagram Shopping and the next evolution of social connection in the Metaverse.
Melissa Dixon: Can you walk our listeners through how the social landscape has evolved and how we got to where we are today?
Derek Netto: “Before we dive in, I’d like to start off by defining the word social commerce. I know a lot of times people think, ‘Social commerce? That’s just buying stuff on social media,’ But it’s actually a lot more than that. Social commerce is really a shift in the way people are discovering and buying new products. It’s a shift in consumer behavior.
“If you go back in a time machine to a couple of years ago, how were people selling stuff on Instagram? Let’s say you saw a post and it had something you liked. How would you go ahead to buy it? The call to action from the seller was typically something like, scroll up from my post, look in my bio and tap this link to go to my website.
“That was a really tough process that had a lot of friction, and sellers were losing buyers at every step of the way. At the same time, us at Instagram realized that more and more businesses are using Instagram to grow their business and reach more customers. Given these two aspects together, we decided to launch Instagram Shopping.
“With Instagram Shopping, we took this existing behavior and we streamlined it. We added the framework for sellers to tell their buyers to just tap on my product in the post, and then the buyer gets taken to this store that lives in Facebook, or it lives in Instagram. From that store, they would go and click a link to finish the purchase on the seller’s website.
“This was going great, but we said, ‘How can we make it even better? How can we eliminate the final points of friction?’ With that thought, we decided to give buyers the ability to check out on Instagram and to buy the product within the app.”
Now we have a situation where the entire customer journey, from discovery to purchase, can all happen in Instagram in an integrated and seamless way.
MD: What are some of the emerging [social commerce] trends that businesses should be aware of, and who’s driving them?
DN: “The biggest trend right now is definitely video, but I wouldn’t call it an emerging trend as it’s already huge at this point. We’re seeing a massive growth in tagged video content that leads to a checkout page, and the video format plays out in many ways. We have tagged stories, tagged reels and even live shopping.
“Live shopping on Instagram gives businesses a new way to connect with their audience on a more intimate and interactive level. With live shopping, buyers can watch a livestream of a seller showcasing their product and share their brand story. This is a great opportunity for you as a business to humanize your brand and give customers a more immersive way to interact with you.”
To give you a sense of how big live shopping is, it’s estimated to grow to about $25 billion in sales by next year.
MD: Do you have any tips for those sellers who might be thinking of doing their first live shopping event?
DN: “The first thing to do to set yourself up for success is choosing the right product. I would think through your entire product catalog and figure out which products can you most easily show. Which are the best products to demo?
“Once you have your product in mind, think about who your host should be…We’ve seen some brands use a celebrity influencer, we’ve seen other brands use industry professionals. Another good strategy is, if your brand has a founding story and your founder is very central to the core of what you stand for, use the founder themselves.
In any case, the core is to just be authentic to you and your brand, and share your brand story and your brand message.
“From there, you need to start thinking about promotions. How do we make sure that people are going to show up when you actually go live? To make that happen, I recommend using our scheduling tools, so that way, your followers will get a push notification in the time leading up to your event.
“While you’re live, it’s important to engage with the followers. You could even think of giving shout-outs here and there. Another thing that we’ve seen boost the sales is to offer a limited time flash deal or to make whatever product you’re talking about exclusive to your drop.
“Finally, after the broadcast ends, you can even save it and keep it on your page. That way, people who may have missed it can watch as well.”
MD: For someone who’s just starting out on Instagram, what advice do you have for those businesses? What are some best practices or maybe even just lesser known tactics that they should be leaning into?
DN: “I like to start off by sharing with those people that:
Having a business presence on Instagram is like having a business on one of the busiest corners in the world.
“We have a community of more than one billion people, where people are coming together to create culture and really build something special…Instagram helps people express themselves, connect with the brands they love and make these connections. As I said before, building this sense of community is going to be key to building your business, and user-generated content is going to play a big role in this.
“Studies have shown that user-generated content is a critical lever to increase your sales. That’s because content from the community builds trust in your brand, and every community post really expands your reach.
“We’ve really internalized this learning at Instagram, and that’s why in our latest product update, we’ve actually added the ability for anyone to tag a product…This is a huge win for user-generated content, and we’re expecting a massive influx of people tagging products.
“As a business, you can see all of this community content and choose which content you want to feature on your product page. So now, we’ve really set the stage where anyone who buys your product can become a potential brand ambassador…
“Another important tip is to internalize that your creative strategy is going to be one of the largest levers of your sales success. When I say creative strategy, I’m specifically talking about what photo, video and text you’re using for your content and for your ads.
“When it comes to ads, Nielsen studies have shown that your ad creative is actually responsible for about 56% of the sales lift you’re going to get from digital advertising. So let’s think about that. The same product that you had sitting on the shelf is now selling 56% better all because you optimized your ad creative.”
MD: On the flip side, what about those more advanced social commerce pros. What can they look forward to as far as what’s new, and what are the best tools to grow their businesses if they’re a little more advanced?
DN: “To give you a preview of some of the new features, you can expect that we’re going to have a lot more ads that lead directly to a seller’s Instagram Shop, where the call to action is ‘complete the purchase on Instagram.’
“For the pros out there, be ready for augmented reality ads. We know that AR is now mainstream. We know that about 80% of people who are online have interacted with AR in the past year, and three out of four business leaders see AR as being crucial to their marketing strategy by 2023. So start thinking today about how you can leverage AR in your ads…
“Thinking even more long term, as you know, our long term vision is to build out the Metaverse to be this next evolution of social connection. We’re really moving to a place where you can buy both physical and digital products in this Metaverse. Looking at the road ahead, we also are going to bring NFTs to Instagram. But for these last two projects, the exact details are still being worked out and developed.”
MD: What do you think is really important for [listeners] to walk away from this episode knowing?
DN: “I want them to know that social commerce is going to be one of the main ways people discover and purchase products, and projections show that social commerce is going to hit $1 trillion by 2025 — but don’t wait until then.”
Brands today should be thinking about what they can do to take advantage of this upcoming $1 trillion opportunity.
MD: Yes, don’t wait. The future of ecommerce and social commerce is now.
Krystin Gresham is a Content Marketing Manager at BigCommerce where she focuses on thought leadership content. Krystin holds a BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University. With a background in both retail and tech, Krystin enjoys staying up on the latest retail and technology trends in the ecommerce industry. When she's not crafting content, Krystin enjoys traveling with her husband and volunteering with the Junior League of Austin.