There are many reasons for the rise in social commerce. Covid-19, global warming, ease of use, and just a general uptake of online activities have all contributed. Gone are the days of consumers battling to find parking, putting up with crowds, walking their legs off to find different products, and listening to endless Christmas carols in November. They can just go online and be spoilt for choice. How has this impacted consumer behavior and business? We look at some of the noticeable trends during the past year.
Consumers find their voice
User-generated content (UGC) has announced its arrival on the global stage with gusto. Consumers have become as much part of brands today as they used to be fed one-way ads in the past. UGC provides social proof and creates an air of authenticity around brands. It is much more believable when a driver of a BMW tells you how fast a car is than BMW reciting all the stats. This social commerce phenomenon comes in many forms. It includes customer reviews, comments on posts and ads, mentions, hashtags, influencer mentions, and videos. It is 100% more powerful and shareable than ads and it’s likely to grow during 2022. The use of social listening tools will become essential in ecommerce as UGC grows.
Conversation is the new black. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are changing the way brands handle customer care. These apps provide an opportunity to have real-time conversations and solve problems on the spot. Very few businesses have the resources to man messaging apps all day. Luckily AI has developed so far that chatbots can do much more than just provide answers to common questions. They can “speak” to people and conduct natural conversations.
AI, ML, and AR say what?
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Augmented Reality (AR) are all improving at the speed of light. They can all help ecommerce businesses engage in social commerce. The use of AI in FAQs and chatbots is obvious. Facebook Shops also use AI via Jumper.ai to automate the checkout process. Examples of AR include the ability to change the look of surroundings on Instagram and TikTok and virtually ‘fitting’ garments and home decor to the customer’s individual needs. We are likely to see these technologies develop as ecommerce grows and businesses pivot online. A word of caution to ecommerce shop owners: Do not lose your human touch. Brands that use technology to automate when a human hand is not required, and provide high-touch when individual problems need to be resolved, will prosper.
Why type if you can speak? Siri and Alexa (interesting that they are both women) will find whatever, whenever you need something. That’s the opinion of many millennials and Generation Z users. Brands need to keep that in mind when they develop technologies, especially when it comes to buying products and listening to voice messages on Facebook Messenger.
Pick the low hanging fruit
Consumers are more likely to buy low-cost products online than they are high-end items. This trend will continue in 2022. Social commerce is relatively new and appears risky to some consumers. They will test the waters with low-cost items first before they commit to buying bigger ticket items.
The stream is alive
The popularity of live video streaming has surpassed the demand for video content during 2021. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr have all seen users pivot to live videos. Perhaps it also explains the sharp rise of TikTok. Brands are experimenting with Stories that are only available for a day to keep users on their toes. Polls, quizzes, “behind the scene” moments, random conversations, and jokes – as well as workplace tours – keep consumers closely connected to the brands they love and follow. Prepare yourself to see brands use much more of it in 2022.
Local goes global
Local targeting erupted this year and is likely to grow in 2022. Geo-tagging is the order of the day and Facebook, as well as Instagram, encourage brands to make their products more discoverable locally. There is likely to be a shortage economy in 2022 and businesses in the UK and EU face major logistical and fulfillment issues. It makes sense to anticipate the effect these trends will have on your brand while you expand globally. Speaking of trends, consumers are organising themselves into social communities where they closely interact with brands. Use these forums to get customer feedback and suggestions. Looking towards 2022, brands that want to stay ahead of the curve can use these communities to evaluate new products before launch. The customer insights and richer customer journeys gained with this strategy can replace focus groups and traditional research models.
Whether you have a virtual store or ecommerce business you can look forward to an increase in social commerce sales and social media activity. Build communities around your brand, use them to test products, resolve problems, and develop technology that works for your brand as well as the consumers of your products.