Massive changes are happening on social media. Sites like Facebook and Instagram are maturing from simple communication tools into fully fledged marketing platforms that enable businesses to not only promote their products but to sell them through the site as well. While these platforms are at the early stages of enabling businesses to sell through social media, they are quickly making inroads into this service and soon consumers will find it as natural to buy on Facebook as they would do on your ecommerce website.
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are leading the way when it comes to businesses selling through social media.
Facebook is currently rolling out its new Shop function across the UK. You might have already seen the option to add products to your business page; if so, this is the first step towards creating a Shop on your Facebook page. While the ability for business users to sell products and receive payment via Stripe and PayPal is currently only available in the US, it will eventually be available for UK businesses as well. When this is fully rolled out in the UK, business pages will be able sell products for free; currently UK business users can start the process through adding products and descriptions to their page, feature products, communicate directly with customers and gain access to insights.
What does this mean for your business? In short, this new function could revolutionise how people interact with social media and how businesses utilise this platform. Many Facebook users have been logging onto their account regularly for almost a decade, which has resulted in the platform building a strong following and gaining the trust of its users during this time. This means that users, especially younger ones who have grown up with the platform, will not hesitate to shop via Facebook and, as a result, means that it could become one of the most important platforms in which to sell your products.
Advertising on Instagram
As an image based platform Instagram is ideal for promoting and advertising products. This social media site is also owned by Facebook, so having a Facebook business page means that it is easy to set up a connected Instagram business page. Many businesses are finding Instagram the ideal choice for creating product ads, as it is an easy and cost-effective way of reaching a large audience base. There are three types of ads that can be created for Instagram – photo ads, video ads, and carousel ads that enable users to swipe through several images.
What does this mean for your business? Although there is no ability to sell directly through Instagram at the moment, the fact that the platform is owned by Facebook suggests that this could become a key retail tool in the near future. As well as this, with Instagram increasing in popularity and an ideal platform in which to showcase products, creating Instagram ads ensures your products will be seen by a high number of potential customers.
Selling on Pinterest
While Pinterest normally doesn’t grab the headlines as other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat do, over the years it has built up a strong and loyal following of users who regularly use and trust the site. As well as this, with the majority of Pinterest users females with disposable incomes, means that Pinterest is the ideal platform for retailers to sell products. At the moment businesses cannot sell directly through Pinterest, however the site makes it easy to promote products and link back to your ecommerce website. The platform is also currently trialling Buyable Pins, which is currently only available to select group of retail partners mainly in the US. This function enables business Pinterest users to add a ‘Add to bag’ pin on their Pins, which enables customers to buy the product via Pinterest, but also includes a link back to the business’ website so that order details and payment information are sent directly to the merchant for processing.
What does this mean for your business? While this function is only available to a select number of businesses, it is likely Pinterest will look at rolling this out to more business users in the future. Many Pinterest users already use the site for inspiration on products to buy so it is only a natural step for users to purchase directly from the site.
As social media platforms mature and look at new ways of growing their business models it is only a natural step for them to start enabling businesses to sell directly through their sites. This means that for business owners who have yet to take social media seriously and invest their resources in building up their social media profile and following, this new development could soon start having a direct impact on their product sales.
Written by Derin Clark, Content Strategist