These days, when marketers look out onto the social media landscape, they’re observing a shift and reaching a consensus: social media isn’t just a tool to expand reach anymore.
Social media is a marketplace.
On social media, we’re content consumers, content creators and content shoppers all at the same time. For ideas, for inspiration, for experiences and for products, we look to social media to research, inform, entertain and validate our decisions. According to Marketing Week, 56 percent of consumers follow brands on social media in order to see products, 41 percent follow them to look at new products when they launch and 35 percent do so to get ideas for the next time they go shopping.
Because of this uptick in social shopping, social media platforms themselves are evolving with the times and enabling social commerce at scale. Facebook, whose ‘Shop Now’ button links out to brand websites where users can shop and make purchases, laid a solid foundation in the social commerce landscape. In 2017, social networks saw $41 billion in advertising revenue — Facebook alone claimed $10.14 billion of this. Facebook is now looking to expand its social commerce offerings with plans to allow users to purchase goods through its messaging apps. Facebook recently filed a patent application for a messaging bot that interprets and responds to users’ purchase requests. With this feature, Facebook can ensure that customers will engage the messaging bot to place orders within Facebook, rather than opening the merchant’s app instead.
And, Instagram just recently announced their new ‘Checkout’ feature, which will allow users to purchase products directly from a post without leaving the Instagram app. “Given that 80 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, the desire really is there to shop,” said Vishal Shah, the head of product at Instagram.
What does the shifting social commerce landscape mean for your brand?
With social giants taking steps like these to create better social shopping experiences for consumers within the platforms themselves, it’s imperative that brands’ social commerce strategies are employing visuals that not only stand out, but directly drive purchases. It’s more important than ever to serve consumers the visual content that actually resonates with them: authentic user-generated content (UGC). By then making that inspirational content actionable, brands can hit that sweet spot where they can drive revenue, customer loyalty and brand awareness in one fell swoop.
According to a recent Stackla report, 90 percent of consumers reported that authenticity is most important when deciding which brands they like and support. And, 79 percent of people said user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions. Real, relatable content is the most impactful when it comes to consumer purchase decisions, and brands need to leverage those authentic visuals across their social ads in order to convert scrollers into shoppers.
Busabout shifts to UGC in social ads and increases sales by 200% while reducing content costs by 79%
Leading hop-on hop-off tour company, Busabout, has heeded the UGC call in their recent social advertising strategy. Knowing the power of authentic visuals (they’ve already transformed their content strategy to feature 99 percent UGC!) Busabout made the move to integrate even more UGC into their paid social strategy to refresh their creative — and drive results.
According to Busabout, over a 2-week period comparing an ad for sailing in Croatia that didn’t use UGC with a fresh, UGC-powered ad, the UGC ad cost 79 percent less and increased sales by 200 percent.
The real traveler images drive inspiration while Facebook’s Book Now CTA drives action. By pairing the content that’s proven to be the most influential in making purchasing decisions with the social platforms that consumers spend the most time on, the result is a cost-effective, timely and revenue-driving social commerce strategy that fosters loyalty and engagement.
Air France ran A/B tests between ad visuals and UGC-powered ads and saw an 11% boost in CTR
Air France ran a similar test to check the efficacy of their digital ad spend on Facebook. Wanting to diversify their visuals and offer a more relatable perspective to their audience, but also wanting to know which ads were really resonating with their audiences, Air France launched A/B tests to see whether the UGC-powered ads would perform better than their usual branded stock image ads.
After nine months of testing, the results were in — and telling. The social ads that featured user-generated images performed significantly higher than the branded stock ads across all of their metrics, including, an 11 percent higher average CTR, 21 percent lower CPC and 2 percent lower CPA.
Social commerce that’s powered by authenticity can make a buying journey feel intimate and personal — two qualities that consumers are increasingly looking for from brands. Sixty-seven percent of people (73 percent of Gen Z and 70 percent of Millennials) say it’s important for brands to provide them with personalized experiences. A paid social strategy that serves relatable, consumer-created visuals satisfies that demand.
One & Only Resorts makes content shoppable to drive revenue from UGC
Leveraging authentic, user-generated visuals across paid ad spend is essential for brands that want to spend less money and drive more click throughs. However, paid social isn’t the only component of a successful social commerce strategy. Enter: ShopSpots.
By showcasing the organic content customers are creating about your brand throughout your website, brands can further personalize the content journey that prospective customers experience when arriving on the site. Capitalize on those touchpoints by making the UGC on homepages, product pages and more shoppable — effectively shortening the buyer’s journey. These direct calls-to-action create a seamless customer experience that smoothly moves people directly from the point of inspiration to the point of purchase.
One & Only Resorts, a collection of luxury resorts worldwide, prides itself on providing awe-inspiring experiences curated specifically for customers and their closest loved ones. A travel brand so focused on a personalized trip from start to finish knew they couldn’t simply rely on stock images across the brand to entice a click from travelers. Instead, One & Only decided to showcase the beauty of their destinations from the eyes of travelers who have experienced these getaway vacations. By encouraging their customers to share their #OOMoments, One & Only could feature authentic UGC right on the homepage — and ensure that content was actionable.
Not only does One & Only implement ShopSpots on their UGC that take visitors directly to the location webpage to book their trip, but they also feature related hotspots in and around that destination — dining, excursions and other features that might provide inspiration to purchase. By implementing multiple CTAs in their influential UGC, One & Only makes it easy for visitors to book a trip right then and there.
This social commerce capability enables One & Only to provide a personalized shoppable experience — reflective of the personal, curated vacation that makes their brand so desirable. With simple, uninterrupted purchase journeys coming from the most influential content, brands take their social commerce strategies to the next level — and lay the groundwork to nurture evergreen customer advocacy.
Boost your social commerce results (without doubling your efforts)
For brands looking to scale their social commerce abilities while implementing the authentic content that performs, it’s imperative that their enterprise tool of choice offers a few core capabilities. An effective UGC platform, like Stackla, offers brands the ability to integrate fully with its eCommerce platform, making it easy to connect user-generated images to individual products down to the SKU level. With features like Stackla’s smart automation rules in place, content created by your brand advocates can be automatically sorted and tagged by product, and the platform ensures live ShopSpots respond in real-time to any variations in languages, markets or stock levels.
The right UGC social commerce solution isn’t just about placing the best, most authentic images on a product page — it’s about utilizing a complete solution that offers simple integrations into other important marketing channels, like emails and ads. Stackla enables brands to easily generate product-based transactional email campaigns that feature UGC of similar products, while also allowing brands to create retargeting ads with product-specific customer-created images. That’s leveraging the impactful content that resonates at each step of the buyer’s journey — during discovery and consideration, through to purchase and on to brand loyalty nurture.
Making sure your content is actionable is a must for marketers. By leveraging authentic, user-generated visuals combined with the right calls-to-action at the right times, marketers can spend less while getting more out of their paid spend.