Social Commerce’s Tipping Point

Commerce on social channels is at a major tipping point. It’s going to succeed, or it’s going to fail. And we’ll know which soon enough. Commerce on social platforms is nothing new. Some brands launched storefronts on their Facebook pages years ago. For a variety of reasons, these never took off, and in today’s environment of Facebook tabs being deemphasized, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Now, we’re entering the new era of social commerce as platforms roll out native commerce solutions. Pinterest now has Buyable Pins, enabling anyone to buy a product they see on Pinterest directly on the platform. Instagram is improving its ads by adding options for users to ‘Buy Now,’ as well as take other actions. Google is introducing a buy button in search results, while adding a click-to-shop CTA to YouTube videos. Then we have both Facebook and Twitter testing buy buttons of their own.

Social commerce is the new video. Everyone’s doing it.

The Big Question

What is the ROI of social has been the question for years. Now, there are a lot of ways to view this question, but measuring the direct revenue made from an investment in social can be incredibly difficult. It’s worth noting, however, that social’s value is much more than driving revenue.

Still, social commerce gets us a little closer to measuring social’s direct impact on sales and could be a great thing for marketers… assuming, people want to shop on social channels.

At the end of the day, people go to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to connect with friends, not make purchases. It’s going to be interesting to see how people behave when they start seeing buy buttons in their feeds. Platforms like Pinterest and YouTube, which can be a bit further down the funnel have a stronger chance to convert audiences into customers, but the real success of social commerce is in the hands of the users.

Can social platforms be both social channels that connect people and online storefronts? If so, Amazon and other online retailers should be concerned. 

Reduced Friction Doesn’t Mean Sales

These buttons are designed to reduce as much friction as possible to lead to a sale. They may do just that, but they’ll have to change the way their users view each of their platforms and get them comfortable with the prospect of making purchases through what have always been non-commerce channels since the beginning.

The way marketers think of and leverage social channels could change dramatically over the next several months as native social commerce is rolled out further. We should all be watching.