Social networks are new shopping malls

Large social networks are developing functionalities that allow users to purchase products and services directly from the platform, and so far, META has the most sophisticated solutions.

5 min to read
Written by: Nataša Blagojević

On Instagram, visually oriented social network with more than 1.2 billion users, social commerce option is available through Instagram Shop. Its functionalities are very similar to the tools needed to create a Facebook shop, just like features for product presentation and live shopping are also very similar. What makes the whole story on Instagram much more successful is the culture of content creators and influencers who are an extremely important factor of success for brands and stores. They are an authentic voice that manages to bring products and services closer to its audience in a fun, and often educational, way, motivating them on purchase. Together with brands, content creators and influencers, have established Instagram as a place to get inspired, discover trends and find new products and services. Soon, with just a few clicks and without leaving the application itself, we will be able to buy these products and services. For now, only users from the USA can do that on Facebook and Instagram, but there is no doubt that users in other regions will soon have an equally easy and pleasant experience of buying directly from the platform.

For more than a decade, social networks have been our window into the world, a place for inspiration and connecting with friends, all this time successfully adapting to the wishes and needs of users. A relatively new step in their development is social commerce, i.e., trade on social networks. By developing their own versions of virtual stores, social networks are becoming new shopping centres.

E-commerce vs social commerce

Unlike the classic e-commerce, which involves buying through a website or application, social commerce, as the name implies, is about selling and buying products and services directly from social media platforms. This practical solution enhances the current role of social networks as a place for discovering brands and searching different products and services into the place where users can do all this and complete their buy without leaving the platform. Along the way, they can also comment on what they plan to buy with other users of that social network – their friends. It is the simplicity of this process in the environment in which they are already while carelessly viewing photos and videos on their newsfeed that is one of the reasons why users around the world like this option so much. Experts estimate that in the US, the value of social commerce will increase by 24.9% in 2022 compared to the previous year and reach a value of 45.74 billion dollars.

Top social commerce platforms

As the most famous social network and platform with the largest number of users (2.9 billion), Facebook is also one of the key social commerce platforms. Numerous companies have already been present through business pages on Facebook, and the launch of the Facebook Shop option literally opened up the possibility for them to bring their products and services even closer to users for free through their online store on Facebook. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, small manufacturers and brands have been given powerful tools that have enabled them to reach their customers and compete with larger players. In the Facebook Shop, products are presented through collections, and the look and style of the “shop” can be adapted to their brand through a number of features. The latest trend is Live Shopping that combines the fun side of live video content with the convenience of online shopping. Customers can research products and ask questions in real time, while brands can strengthen customer relationships and simplify their buying process.

On Instagram, visually oriented social network with more than 1.2 billion users, social commerce option is available through Instagram Shop. Its functionalities are very similar to the tools needed to create a Facebook shop, just like features for product presentation and live shopping are also very similar. What makes the whole story on Instagram much more successful is the culture of content creators and influencers who are an extremely important factor of success for brands and stores. They are an authentic voice that manages to bring products and services closer to its audience in a fun, and often educational, way, motivating them on purchase. Together with brands, content creators and influencers, have established Instagram as a place to get inspired, discover trends and find new products and services. Soon, with just a few clicks and without leaving the application itself, we will be able to buy these products and services. For now, only users from the USA can do that on Facebook and Instagram, but there is no doubt that users in other regions will soon have an equally easy and pleasant experience of buying directly from the platform.

TikTok is the next big thing

Having in mind that the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt already has over impressive 11 billion views and that TikTok is the biggest challenger to large social networks (especially Instagram) considering its growing number of users and their high engagement, this social network could be the next big social commerce platform. The first steps in this direction have already been made – “shop now” buttons on ads that lead to online stores of brands, partnerships with e-commerce platforms and the ability to add shopping tabs to business profiles. TikTok users are very engaged – 37% of them immediately bought something they discovered while browsing videos on this network. Moreover, compared to users of other social networks, such a scenario is 1.5 times more likely for TikTok users.

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