January 21, 2022

Digital Marketing Education

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Introducing: social media commerce holiday guide 2021

Shopping is going social this holiday season.

These shopping sprees no longer require bundling up after your Thanksgiving feast to wait in snaking lines and fight for the hottest toys and gadgets before they fly off the shelves. Instead, gift-giving in 2021 might be as easy as scrolling social platforms.  

Nearly every major social platform, including Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter, has spent the past year investing in social commerce capabilities: these include hosting livestream events, virtual product try-ons, and in-app checkout. The ultimate goal: proving they can help brands drive sales. And this holiday season they will be put to the test by brands eager to explore the metaverse and find new ways to connect with hard-to-reach millennials and Gen Z. 

See Ad Age’s 2021 Social Commerce Guide here.
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Ad Age is exploring the various facets of social commerce and how it has transformed in the past year. 

COVID catalyst

During pandemic lockdowns, consumers moved en masse to e-commerce as brands pivoted to curbside pickup and using stores as fulfillment centers. This was also the catalyst for brands to deepen their relationships with influencers and creators to promote their products to their large and engaged social followings. 

This led to the social giants bulking up their own features to make platforms shoppable. Platforms like Pinterest and TikTok added “Shop” tabs to main pages and profiles, while several of the social companies started or deepened their connection with Shopify merchants. Others introduced new ad formats to show off multiple products or use creator content as ads. The key for each platform has been keeping purchases within the app during the shopping experience.

Influencer affect 

Influencers on TikTok, in particular, helped buoy interest, as product mentions by some of these social celebrities propelled sales of everything from feta and cleaning supplies to shaving cream and running shoes. The IRL sales caused brands to quickly ramp up their influencer and partnership programs, even driving them to erect so-called creator classes to turn loyal fans into brand ambassadors.  

On top of this, the idea of what it means to be an influencer has changed. Brands now partner with creators, who do more than hawk products. Authenticity and aligning with a creator’s values are sometimes put above audience reach.

See social commerce’s impact on the 2021 holiday season here.

Supply chain saga 

This holiday season there’s the added challenge of supply chain issues, which have resulted in product delays and empty store shelves. This has led retailers to encourage consumers to start their shopping earlier, with some holiday ads starting to roll out as early as October

One way to avoid supply chain disruptions? Look to the metaverse and gaming. The category is already a hot commodity among brands and is poised to be a hot holiday gift. Roblox gift cards and NFTs may appear on many Christmas lists. 

This holiday season will be a culmination of platforms’ social commerce investments and brands’ influencer efforts, leading to what is poised to be a very virtual Christmas.