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Social commerce: how large Ecommerce companies are selling on social media and what platforms they use

Social commerce: how large Ecommerce companies are selling on social media and what platforms they use

Published: 4 November 2021 • Reading time: 10 minutes

Nowadays, social media is an important part of our lives, on average we spend on it 2-3 hours a day, it is a source of communication, updates, entertainment, and as of late, shopping. We see many brands, small and big, selling on social media and doing it successfully. Let’s have a look at how social media shopping and selling work, what platforms and payment methods are used in social commerce industry, and how you can use social commerce to benefit your business.

Social Commerce vs. Social Selling

First, let’s make this distinction clear. Social Selling is similar to traditional marketing, and is done through posts/stories, including ads on social media, clicking on which, redirects the user to the website of the company in order to make a purchase. Social Commerce, however, is done purely within the social commerce platform, including the purchase stage (Instagram Shop, Facebook Shop, Snapchat’s AR TrueSize, Snap Scan etc.). The latter is the most innovative way of selling on social media and we will have a look at the most used social commerce platforms in the UK from this perspective.

Social commerce platforms from a strategic point of view

It is no secret that people of all generations follow brands on social media for offers and discounts, to stay updated on the latest products, for content, to offer feedback and because they are passionate about them. But what platforms they use and what kind of ads are efficient for each platform to target the right audience? Let’s have a look at the most popular social commerce platforms in the UK, where many brands sell successfully.

Facebook (UK - 51.15 MLN users, July 2021)¹

The largest and most famous social commerce platform to exist in the world with almost 3 billion monthly active users, even though it is often overlooked today by the companies and influencers because the younger demographic group prefers newer platforms. It is still a great global most populated field for targeting, with many profiling possibilities, used widely by many industries in both B2B and B2C: entertainment, finance, fashion, luxury and health, especially those that target 25+ audience.

Being the biggest social media in the world, many companies sell through it. The successful UK brand example, reported by Facebook for business, would be a furniture retailer Made.com that increased its conversion rate by 2.5 times through AR (augmented reality) ad campaign in 2021 in just under 2 months and the brand had 63.000 sessions on the website driven by the AR campaign. Another British brand JD Williams, a fashion retailer, in just 20 days maximised the return on ads, where the combination of Facebook ads and paid search was used, and 3.5X lower cost for incremental new customers was achieved. Facebook messenger is another platform within Facebook reality that also has targeting opportunities with messenger ads, and is, therefore, used by many companies.

Instagram (UK – 29 MLN users, July 2021)

Instagram immediately differentiated from Facebook aesthetically due to images and short videos published that later became reels, therefore, content and ads on Facebook and Instagram look and work differently. This social commerce platform is a good choice for companies that want to raise brand awareness, especially among the youngest generations under the age of 35 and for social selling to this demographic for lifestyle, education, service, travel, health & beauty, food, fitness and fashion industries in B2C. So many companies in these industries built their brand from the ground up with Instagram in the UK fashion industry, in particular. Those that develop their Ecommerce on Instagram targeting users that are prone to social media shopping, are usually smaller brands, while bigger companies use the platform for brand awareness and engagement with customers and raising customer loyalty. However, it is good to keep in mind that 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month of smaller and bigger brands, and 50% of Instagram users are more interested in a brand after seeing an ad for it on Instagram², so it is important for companies of all sizes to invest into targeting on Instagram if their audience is there.

Big brands that have a successful presence and Ecommerce on Instagram, amassing tens of millions of followers and high engagement rates, especially, but not limited to, brands in fashion industry, such as Nike, D&G, Channel, Mercedez Benz, Starbucks, Apple and others raise their following and loyalty through a content and ads strategy that depends on the brand image, personality and product. Content for brands varies, depending on the message, between behind-the-scenes, educational, relatable, minimalistic, inclusive, exclusive etc. Ads on this platform need to be visually appealing and correctly targeted to stick with the target.

Influencer marketing on Instagram

When we talk about Instagram, it is important to mention influencers and their role in brands’ selling on social media. According to Hootsuite, 55% of fashion shoppers have purchased a fashion item after seeing an influencer/creator promote it. Also, influencer marketing is expected to be worth $13.8 billion in 2021³, so there are many perks to implementing influencer marketing to your strategy, and if your product is already known and loved by the influencer, this makes for a very sincere and efficient promotion. However, you have to study the audience of the potential ambassador for affiliate marketing, their engagement and reputation before associating yourself with them. UK alone has thousands of influencers with following of many sizes, from tens of thousands to tens of millions, including celebrities, you shouldn’t dismiss an influencer based on their size, what matters is their reputation and audience.

TikTok (UK – 12 MLN users, September 2021)

The newest social commerce platform that took the world by storm, especially during the lockdowns in 2020-2021, and is forecast to surpass Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter by 2022 in terms of activity and users in the UK, according to eMarketer studies on TikTok in April 2021. TikTok also witnessed 100% YoY growth between ’19 and ’20, and just a year ago TikTok’s ad product wasn’t mature, and brands weren’t sure how to monetize it, the doubt about investments was further strengthened by the fact that more than half of the users worldwide were under 25, so could the users even afford the products sold by different Ecommerce companies? However, it was later proven that there is no big difference in income distribution in the UK among most social commerce platforms, and in the UK in particular, more than 70% of users were aged between 25 and 65+, with Millennials representing the most populated group on the platform, according to NapoleonCat Stats in August ‘21. In some ways, TikTok is simpler to understand and go viral for brands with trends and good targeting, thanks to the platform’s efficient algorithms in place. Examples of big companies tapping TikTok for social commerce are L’Oréal for Garnier and NYX brands in June 2021, and various streetwear brands already in spring ‘21.

Twitter (UK – 17.55 MLN users, July 2021)

Twitter is a platform, where the brand can grow following organically without as much spending as on other platforms, brands from technology, retail, aviation and finance industries feel themselves right at home on one of the most personal platforms that is more about individuals and human touch, than visually appealing ads and influencers, and offers possibilities for paid ads as well. For example, JetBlue Airways uses twitter to show how much they care about feedback through transparent customer care, responding directly to any question, doubt and experience the customers had and has amassed almost 2 MLN followers with this human touch strategy. There are also smaller accounts’ success stories, such as Subway France brand, that managed to get over 7 MLN impressions in 24 hours with the giveaway campaign, promoted on Twitter, by giving voice to the brand, using the right hashtags and keeping up with the trends and news.

LinkedIn (UK – 31.2 MLN users, July 2021)

The most “adult” platform with the highest level of education among all, more than half of users are between 25 and 34 years old, and almost a quarter – from 35 to 54, according to NapoleonCat, Social Media Tool. The only platform in social commerce industry that is mostly suitable for B2B. Industries based on networking thrive most on this social commerce platform. Sales representatives, recruiting, legal, translation, IT, payments and manufacturing industries are the ones that have most success on the platform, including paid ads. Ads’ concept on LinkedIn is a B2B campaign, where business is represented by the person. Hays recruiting company is a good example of a successful strategy on LinkedIn through branded visuals and putting message across with the human touch, that helped the company’s account grow exponentially with over 5 million followers. Schneider Electric manufacturing with almost 3 million followers is another company you might want to observe to learn more about how to position oneself and share news and product announcements the right way.

Pinterest (UK – 15 MLN users, May 2021)

This platform is most often used by B2C companies but B2Bs that target smaller companies can yield great results as well, and is highly based on the aesthetics aspect, even more so than Instagram. Therefore, the social commerce platform is suitable for all the businesses that, while selling on social media, base themselves off the visual aspect: travel, fashion, cosmetics etc. Especially since many users create the boards to plan their purchases, and 9 in 10 people are on Pinterest exactly for the reason to help them decide what to purchase, as reported by Pinterest itself. Jonas Paul Eyewear that sells glasses for kids after a targeting campaign on Pinterest increased their average order value by 65%, and 90% of their website traffic came from Pinterest. Another example is Michaels, arts and crafts store that implemented a trendy 360° shopping experience targeted at the right audience of crafters, and the in-store sales were boosted and there was an 8% increase in foot traffic, a great online-to-offline strategy example.

Snapchat (UK – 10 MLN users, May 2021)

Even though, this platform is less popular for social commerce in the UK than the ones we described above, especially after the boom of Instagram and later TikTok, still it is the sixth most popular social media platform with almost 20% of active UK internet users entering the platform almost religiously, including for social media shopping. Ads based on Geofilters and 360° view can prove successful for restaurants, events and concerts organizers, education, beauty & health and others. Cosmetics and fashion are especially successful with AR ads. Snapchat’s main audience is under 30, and 28% of Snapchat users state that their purchases are influenced by the platform⁴. There are also opportunities for real-time ads targeting users based on interest with AR shopping tools and Snapchat Sponsored Lenses, which are played with by most users daily, while the number of users worldwide is almost 250 MLN.

Payment Methods and conclusion

The payment methods used in social commerce industry in the UK are not that different from traditional Ecommerce and marketplaces. The most common being: credit card, bank transfer, PayPal, digital wallet (all equally common), not as common but still relevant – cash on delivery and P2P payments. Important to mention that the trend is inverted, with cash on delivery and P2P becoming the most common payment methods and credit card the least in less developed countries economically and in payments industry⁵. Read our articles on different payment methods used by different generations, Buy Now Pay Later, P2P and mobile payments to find out more.

Based on everything we talked about in this article: what are people searching for when choosing social commerce, including conversational commerce via social media over traditional Ecommerce channels? What does your brand have to give customers on social media? The answer is: convenience, immediacy, updates, reliability, human touch, speed and feeling as a part of a brand and its community through content, engagement and interaction.

Source
1

NapoleonCat Stats.

2

Hootsuite Stats, 2021

3

Influencer Marketing Hub, 2021

4

Global Consumer Survey, Statista, 2021

5

The rise of social commerce in Southeast Asia, iKala, October 2020

TagEcommerceDigital payments

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