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Shoppable Social – How will social commerce impact businesses?

Social commerce as a term has been around for a while, but really gained traction when the world was forced to buy stuff from their homes. If you’ve come across social commerce but aren’t too sure what it is or why you need to care, then this article is for you.

What actually is social commerce?

When you’re browsing Instagram or watching a YouTube video, and a product is featured that you’d like to buy, if that brand or influencer has social commerce baked into their social channel, then you can simply click a link and be taken to checkout within that social platform. It’s the social media wave of ecommerce where previously you had to remember the name of the product, open your internet browser, locate the product and then carry out the checkout process on the website you found.

Why should businesses get involved with social commerce?

During the pandemic, there was a 95% increase in social commerce sales and a quarter of UK shoppers were actively using social to find new products. These are impressive numbers and while social commerce isn’t quite at the heights that it was then, at least 30% of people’s spending is now taking place online as we run through 2022. Along with the hard facts, there other great reasons to get into social commerce:

  • Did you know that over 80% of the UK population is on social media? That’s a huge number of people that could be buying your products from the comfort of their sofa, their train seat, or during their lunch break.

  • You know about mental availability and physical availability, but now there’s digital availability, coined by James Hankins. To grow your brand, you need to spring to mind when consumers think about your category (mental availability) and be available to buy when they’re at the shops (physical availability). Digital availability is the bridge between the two, where you’re popping up in people’s social feeds, priming them to think about your product, and you’re also available to purchase at the click of a button online. Social commerce is both a brand builder and a sales activator, 2 for the price of 1!

  • Every touchpoint counts. You’re available offline, you’re available on your website, and now you can be available where people are watching entertaining content or actively looking to discover new products.

  • Social commerce reduces the consumer’s path to purchase. We’re in the business of making it as easy and stress-free as possible to buy our products. Giving consumers the power to make buying decisions where they’re experiencing your product on social means that converting them is a lot easier.

Social commerce is both a brand builder and a sales activator, 2 for the price of 1!

What platforms offer shoppable functionality?

All the major social platforms have been feverishly rolling out shoppable features to enable businesses to sell their products as easily as possible. Check out the following to see what’s available:


Instagram offers businesses the ability to create Instagram Shops, which sit as a unique tab on your profile. The products can be grouped into categories based on how you want people to explore your shop, for example, you could group fox printed products together if you want people to shop your Fox Collection. IG Shops allows you to add product imagery as well as product videos alongside your own descriptions and pricing, or pull automatically from your website. The biggest benefit of IG Shops is that once set up you can tag your products in content or ads; when tagged, a shopping icon appears in the corner which signals to users that they can purchase your products there and then. You can also collaborate with influencers so that they can tag your products too, driving additional exposure.


As the social media equivalent of magazines, Pinterest is well positioned to be a shoppable destination as people scroll through their dream home interiors and create inspiration boards for their wedding. Pinterest gives businesses the option to sell products through their product catalogue, allowing you to make pins shoppable. If you’re running Pinterest Ads, having a product catalogue set up allows you to create a variety of shoppable ad formats that can help users discover your product range or watch a product video before committing to a purchase.


If you’re on TikTok, then you’re definitely familiar with the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt movement. TikTok is primarily an entertainment app, but has found wild success in making products go viral, and in some cases sell out (check out Mochi Balls, the TikTok leggings and MAC’s MACStack mascara!). TikTok is partnered with Shopify, so if you’re selling via that platform then it’s super easy for you to embed your products into your TikTok page (currently rolling out gradually to Shopify Merchants). TikTok shopping allows you to tag products that appear as a little link in the corner of videos when featured. If you’re a big spender on TikTok, then you can set up custom TikTok pages as part of a large ad campaign.! TikTok has also been trialling Live Shopping experiences that are very much TikTok’s answer to QVC. These are currently reserved for brand partners, but expect to see these becoming more popular in the future. In the meantime, if you’re itching to get your products featured on TikTok then you can run ads that click through to your website, or you can add a link in your bio.


As the champion of AR Filters and Lenses, Snapchat offers businesses the opportunity to create interactive filters of their products. This is particularly useful for make-up brands who want users to be able to try on their lipsticks, for example, or for furniture brands who want to give users the ability to see what items look like in their home. To find out more about creating these AR Shopping Lenses, it’s worth having a chat with a Snap rep.


The original product unboxing site, YouTube, is a powerhouse social platform for driving sales of products via own brand videos or through YouTubers. While there aren’t any native shopping features available, select creators do have the ability to tag their products throughout their videos. For businesses, shopping tools are found when running ads across the YouTube network which can appear as banners throughout the video or as a catalogue underneath.


Twitter is very new to the social commerce game, but recently has launched Shop Spotlight. It’s still early days, but Shop Spotlight will allow businesses to feature products on their Twitter page which users can shop directly in-app.

The easiest thing you can do to start making your business shoppable on social is to set up product catalogues on the apps that allow you to do this for free: Instagram and Pinterest.

What can you do right now?

The easiest thing you can do to start making your business shoppable on social is to set up product catalogues on the apps that allow you to do this for free: Instagram and Pinterest. Once you’ve got your website talking to your social channels, you can get product tagging! Have a play around with different types of content, perhaps a product tutorial, a behind-the-scenes, a before and after, and start to gather learnings about what makes your products sell.

What about the future?

Instagram announced a new feature that’s coming soon, this will allow anyone to tag a brand’s product where they’ve featured it in their video. Users won’t receive any money doing this, but if your product isn’t set up in IG Shops then you might be losing out on a sale. Whilst this is a direct user tagging feature, it’s important to get your social commerce house in order because if someone mentions your brand on any social channel and then someone goes to your social channel’s page to purchase, you want to be there, ready and waiting with your product catalogue. Lastly, if you’re looking to explore influencer marketing, but you’re not sure if it will drive sales, having them set up as collaborators with your product catalogue means you could set KPIs such as ‘Cost Per Sale’ when you work with talent.

The future of social commerce is bright for both businesses, influencers and consumers. So whether you’ve never dipped your toe into shoppable content, or you’ve already started but don’t know what to do next, hopefully this guide will help you see what you can do next to make sure you’re winning sales wherever your customers are.


Written by Pollyanna Ward

Pollyanna solves problems for brands by finding the sweet spot between marketing fundamentals and new digital media. You can connect with Pollyanna on LinkedIn or send a tweet at @pollage.


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