Social Commerce Is on the Rise

Social Commerce Is on the Rise

Advertising

Social commerce is on the rise. According to a new report from eMarketer, the pandemic has fueled a surge in e-commerce across the board, and social commerce in the U.S. has benefitted from that acceleration. By all accounts, it will continue to do so: the prediction is that social commerce will gain even more traction as platforms boost their checkout and shopping functions. What does this news mean for your brand? Read on to learn more.

The Market Is Growing

Social commerce is certainly enjoying a banner year already. eMarketer predicts that in 2021, U.S. retail social commerce sales will rise to $36.09 billion — a whopping 34.8 percent leap that would represent a 4.3 percent piece of the retail ecommerce sales pie. The prediction comes on the heels of a revised 2020 social commerce forecast: from 19.8 percent growth to 37.9 percent growth.

Social Commerce Hot Spots

Because of their focus on images, Instagram and Pinterest have a leg up on displaying merchandise; it’s probably no coincidence, then, that both platforms, as eMarketer points out, “provide the most relevant social commerce experiences for brands today.” Instagram and Pinterest have also been enjoying exceptionally strong growth. And both sites have been very proactive about developing business tools that make it easier to sell products and services online.

For example, Pinterest offers tools such as:

  • Product Pins, through which a business can connect its product catalog to Pinterest, filter and organize inventory, create shopping ads, and measure results.
  • Promoted Pins, which appear in search results and home feed as regular pins do, but are targeted and boosted to deliver more reach. Users can pin them to boards, comment on them, and share them. Note that after a Promoted Pin is shared once by a Pinner, the “Promoted” label disappears, with repins considered “earned media.”
  • Promoted Carousels, which feature two to five swipeable images. This can be a useful format for brands wishing to showcase multiple products or features.

But it’s Instagram that has really rocked social commerce by continuously offering tools that make it easier for brands to use the platform for sales. Consider features such as:

  • Instagram checkout, which facilitates simple, convenient, and secure purchases made directly from Instagram. As we’ve blogged, shopping from Instagram means protected payment information is kept in one place. So Instagrammers can shop multiple favorite brands without having to log in and enter intel multiple times.
  • Instagram Live, which allows checkout-enabled businesses to sell products through “live shopping.” In live shopping, consumers might be inspired by a creator or brand’s live video content and subsequently buy promoted products in real-time.

Platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok are also making moves to stay competitive. As we’ve blogged, TikTok has been doubling down on social commerce, especially in the arena of livestreaming. Consider the site’s recent collaboration with Walmart, in which shoppers could check out Walmart’s TikTok profile to see fashions highlighted by TikTok creators like Michael Le (it’s worth noting that categories like apparel/accessories really lend themselves to social commerce). Using mobile checkout, consumers could then buy the same products they saw in the livestream.

What You Should Do

Eager to incorporate social commerce into your marketing plan? We recommend that you:

  • Do your homework on your audience. Not all social commerce platforms are the same. Pinterest tends to appeal to Millennial women, TikTok to Gen Z and Millennials as a whole. Ask yourself: what demographics am I trying to reach?
  • Learn how to use the tools available to you. Each platform will have its own requirements for creating content. In addition, all of these popular sites will require a strong understanding of how to use visuals — it behooves you to make creating powerful imagery a strength. Finally, if you choose to get into live commerce, you’ll need to get really savvy about using livestreaming effectively.
  • Make sure you are set up for success. As we discussed on our blog in January, many businesses are struggling to manage the surge in demand that happens when they attract more shoppers with an intent to buy. Make sure your online fulfillment can handle the demand.

Contact True Interactive

How might social commerce fit into your brand’s digital marketing plan? Contact us. We can help. Read about our expertise in online shopping here.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Why Pinterest Matters to Advertisers

Why Pinterest Matters to Advertisers

Social media

During a tough pandemic year, the image-sharing and social media service Pinterest rebounded mightily. According to cnbc.com, shares of Pinterest surged in trading late in October, closing up nearly 27 percent after a third quarter in which total revenues jumped to $443 million. That’s an increase of 58 percent year over year. Why is Pinterest growing, and what sets Pinterest apart from some of the other big advertising apps? What can you do to capitalize on what Pinterest has to offer? Read on to learn more.

Why Is Pinterest Growing?

As reported by The New York Times, widespread shelter-in-place during the pandemic has meant that expenses like travel, restaurant dining, and even clothing shopping have dropped considerably for most people. Some consumers have channeled money that might, in a different year, have gone towards an exotic vacation into purchases that help make their homes a cozy sanctuary during an uncertain time: updated furniture, for example, or new dishware. Enter Pinterest, which has become an important site for people to share ideas with one another about everything from recipes to decorating. As Emarketer analyst Andrew Lipsman notes, Pinterest is “especially well positioned for the moment.” That’s because users are looking to Pinterest for inspiration during a time when the idea of “nesting” seems more attractive than ever.

What Sets Pinterest Apart?

That connection with audience is one of the things that makes Pinterest especially interesting to advertisers. As CFA Andres Cardenal notes here, Pinterest’s business model lends itself to a symbiotic relationship between consumers and advertisers. When Pinterest users “pin” images they like to specific boards (much like someone tacking a physical artifact of a favorite recipe or vacation destination to a cork board in their office cubicle), Pinterest’s algorithm takes note and suggests new pins based on the user’s interest. (Think the coworker who might notice your Grand Canyon virtual Zoom background, and recommend checking out the hiking at Yellowstone.) Some of Pinterest’s suggestions can take the form of advertising, and as Cardenal points out, a useful ad that “gets” a user is a very different animal from invasive advertising. He also notes, “Pinterest is focused on inspiring and uplifting content, which sets it apart from the big social media platforms.” And during a chaotic year, the power of inspiration and uplift cannot be underestimated.

Another reason Pinterest is popular is because it is highly visual. We live in a visual age! As far back as 2014, Business Insider reported that people were uploading 1.8 billion images to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat every day. Recent stats shared by the Omnicore digital marketing agency indicate that as of 2020, on Instagram alone, 995 photos are uploaded every second. And people respond to images: as HubSpot noted earlier this year, Tweets with images earn 150 percent more retweets than tweets without; Facebook posts with images enjoy 2.3 times more engagement than those without; and articles with an image every 75 to 100 words get double the social media shares compared to articles incorporating fewer images. Bottom line: content with visuals gets shared and liked more than content that lacks visuals. There is no turning back.

Finally, Pinterest is interesting to advertisers because it’s a hub for cultural trends. As noted in yahoo!finance, Pinterest and its advertisers take trend-watching seriously. Witness the Pinterest 100, the platform’s annual report that showcases emerging trends around the world. Pinterest is a goldmine for understanding not only what is popular, but what’s coming next. And if, as a brand, you understand the trends, you can learn where your particular “in” is. You’ll stay relevant.

What You Can Do

Advertisers can benefit from Pinterest’s uplifting connect with its users, visual nature, and understanding of what’s cool. We recommend that you:

  • Dig deeper into Pinterest’s user base. Understand who they are. As reported by Omnicore, 69 percent of Pinterest users are between the ages of 18 and 49. These are folks with a lot of earning power—more so than younger teens, say, who might more likely be found on TikTok or Snapchat. Pinners are also more likely to be women: 71 percent, according to the Omnicore stats. How does your messaging resonate with this audience?
  • Get to know Pinterest advertising options, such as:
    • Promoted Pins appear in the search results and home feed as regular pins do, but they are boosted and targeted to deliver more reach. Users can pin them to boards, comment on them, and share them. Note that after a Promoted Pin is shared once by a Pinner, the “Promoted” label disappears, with repins considered “earned media.”
    • Promoted Carousels feature two to five images that users can swipe through. This can be a useful format for brands who wish to showcase multiple products or features.

Contact True Interactive

Can Pinterest help you connect with your audience in new and exciting ways? Contact us to learn more.

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

Social media

We respond to images every day: an Instagram shot of a stunning sunrise, or the pictures friends text us from a vacation spent hiking in Ireland. But not everyone understands the tremendous power images wield in the business world. Just as any business cares about how its website is written or its ad copy composed, it should also treat images with the same attention and respect. Mary Meeker’s widely read 2019 Internet Trends report underlines that truth.

Images are on the Rise

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report is an annual thought bomb with considerable influence. According to Meeker, consumer usage of digital continues to increase overall:

With that uptick, there’s been a climb in image creation. Images hold a lot of power. People respond to them: not only the pictures they take, but other people’s, too. And as image sharing becomes more popular, perhaps it’s no coincidence that Instagram use is soaring:

As Meeker points out, Twitter content with images gets more tweet impressions:

And artificial intelligence tools are making images more sophisticated, in the process rendering them more powerful as communication instruments:

What Does The Rise of Visual Storytelling Mean for You?

Her findings are a reminder that businesses need to treat images as critical assets in both paid and organic content. What should your response be? Here are some tips:

  • Capitalize on tools that make your digital advertising stand out, such as Google Shoppable Ads. As we noted in this post, select retailers are experimenting with a format that allows them to highlight multiple products for sale within a sponsored ad appearing in Google Images results.
  • Make Instagram part of your game plan. Instagram is trending, becoming increasingly popular for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands, as advertisers become aware of—and ever-more curious about—the opportunities the platform affords. We’ve written about some of those opportunities, including Instagram’s Branded Content Ads, which makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds.
  • Use strong images in your organic content. In a recent post, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media discusses how images can improve your search rankings. As he points out, “Now we know that visuals are an SEO’s (search engine optimization’s) best friend.” Perhaps that’s because visuals, like well-crafted text, can speak volumes with a minimum of fuss. “Just as you wouldn’t miss the chance to turn a paragraph of items into a bullet list, never miss the chance to use a visual to explain a concept,” Crestodina says.

We agree. And one area where you can make the most of strong images is your Google My Business (GMB) page. That’s because a company’s GMB page, as noted in moz.com, is the single most important way for a business to be found through local searches.

Images hold power. Want to learn more about how to capitalize on that power? Contact us.

Google Makes Ads More Shoppable

Google Makes Ads More Shoppable

Google

Google understands the power of images. To remain competitive with visual platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, Google is introducing a feature called shoppable ads on Google Images. With this new format, shopping online through image search just became easier than ever.

Shoppable Ads

According to Google’s blog, half of online shoppers say that images of a product inspire them to make a purchase. And Google has responded to that input with shoppable ads on Google Images. The format, which allows advertisers to highlight multiple products for sale within a sponsored ad appearing in Google Images results, is currently being tested with select retailers.

The format works as follows:

  • A shopper searching for, say, home office ideas on their desktop or mobile device, can pull up a series of sponsored ads in Google Images.
  • Retailers have the ability to tag several products in an ad.
  • When the consumer scrolls through these ads, they can hover over items for sale in any given image and learn specific details—like price and brand—about those items.

Being There for the Consumer

The new development is significant. By making it easier to make purchases using the power of visual search, Google demonstrates a real understanding of how consumers shop. According to Adweek, it also makes Google competitive in an arena in which Pinterest and Instagram are making headway. (On Pinterest alone, people conduct hundreds of millions of visual searches monthly.) As Daniel Alegre, president, retail shopping and payments at Google, said during a keynote at the retail conference Shoptalk, “No journey is exactly alike. With so many choices and awareness, awareness is about being there when the consumer is looking for you.”

For more information about how to use images in your online advertising, contact True Interactive.

Image source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-introduces-shoppable-ads-on-google-images/296551/