Today there are over 2.07 billion active social media accounts. 64% of those users admit that they visit social media sites at least once per day. In fact, the average user spends a little over 1.7 hours per day on social media. That number rises, the younger the user is. But what does that have to do with eCommerce retailers?

Consider these stats:

  • 37% of internet users say that they follow their favorite brands on social media channels.
  • 75% of people say that they have bought something because they saw it on social media.
  • 90% of consumers say that they will go to social media if they need help on a buying decision.

And one last one: In 2014 alone, the top 500 online retailers earned over three billion from social shopping. Social media is no longer just a way to keep up with your friends from high school. Today, it’s a business—and a big one, at that. Think about this: In 2016, Facebook raked in more than $7 billion in advertising. It’s a business giant and, from the looks of things, it isn’t going anywhere soon.

More and more people are spending more time online. We’ve seen businesses adapt to this. Businesses came around and jumped on the eCommerce train. Online spending has increased dramatically over the past 5 years. But just being online isn’t enough anymore. People don’t want to have to find you on the vast web. You have to find them—and, where are they? Social media. Social accounts for 28% of all online activity.

Online retailers need to embrace the fact that social media is no longer optional. They have the opportunity to jump onto this platform and capture a huge market. However, you can’t just post an update or tweet once a week and expect results. Social media requires a strategy like any other marketing channel. We’ll cover a few tips on how to increase your sales with social media later on. First, let’s take a deeper look into social media, the platforms and tools you need, and more on social selling.

Time to Socialize

Even with the statistics presented earlier, social media still gets put on the back burner in the eCommerce world. We know that online spending is increasing. Just in the United States, online spending is expected to increase by over $520 billion in the next three years. But online selling and spending isn’t the only thing on the rise.

In 2011, social commerce only accounted for around $5 billion in sales. By 2015, it was over $30 billion of the total global eCommerce revenue. Those numbers aren’t going to decrease anytime soon; we can only expect those numbers to grow.

Why? Because today’s shoppers are all about convenience. Consumers don’t want to have to jump through hoops to purchase something online. They don’t want to see your product on Facebook, only to be taken to a landing page and then to the product page, and five steps later be able to check out. No. They want instant gratification. They want to see something and buy it right then. With technology and the world at our fingertips, we want to be able to shop when and wherever we want, and that means social media.

Social Selling

Social selling gives consumers the ability to buy your products without having to leave their social media app or network. While you probably spent a lot of time and energy on your landing pages, consumers don’t want to go there. That’s too much work for them.

Social networks are playing a role in several stages of the buying cycle. However, a new trend is also emerging—retailers are closing sales using social selling tools and tactics. Shopify has jumped on the trend, rolling out Buy Now buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. While it might take some time before brands really see the ROI here, it’s never too early to jump on board and start increasing your sales through social media. Let’s look into some platforms and tools that you can use to get started.

Platforms and Tools

Let’s start with the giant in the social media sphere: Facebook is the leading social media network in the world, and it is also a giant in the social commerce space. It was one of the first social networks to integrate a buy button on the platform and, today, Facebook accounts for about 85% of all eCommerce orders from social media.

Twitter hasn’t been so lucky with the social commerce space, as of late. It rolled out a buy now button back in 2014 but, recently, discontinued the feature for various reasons. The platform has said that it is moving away from eCommerce, which makes sense for its long-term survival. But don’t let that scare you away from social selling. Just because one platform didn’t have the right model, it doesn’t mean it isn’t profitable.

Instagram, the world’s leading visual social media site, has become a gold mine for eCommerce social selling. It has recently embraced social selling on the platform and is working to shorten purchase processes. It currently offers Buy Buttons on its promotional campaigns, but you’ll have to pay it to run these ads. And, unfortunately, at the moment, these buy buttons redirect to an external URL to shop, which it is working on.

Pinterest might just be the end-all be-all of social commerce. While the platform doesn’t have the user base that Facebook or Twitter has, social commerce is booming on the site. Pinterest is a favorite among women, and studies have shown that users tend to have a higher income level than on other networks.

In addition, a majority of the site’s users say that they will use Pinterest to plan purchases. If they are already using the site to make purchasing decisions, why wouldn’t you want to sell directly on there? Well, Pinterest thought the same thing and, in 2015, rolled out Buyable Pins.

Buyable pins allow users to add products that they see on the platform directly to their bag that shows when the pin is expanded. Pinterest also gives users the ability to check out without leaving the site. This has proven to be successful for the social media network. Buyable pins currently have an average order value of $50, which is one of the highest among social channels.

In addition to the social media platforms themselves, there are also social selling tools that you can use to help up your sales. While there are many out there, for the purpose of this article we’re going to focus on two: Soldsie and Curalate.

Soldsie is a tool that gives retailers the opportunity to transform their Instagram (Facebook, too, and it is currently working on a Pinterest option) profile into an extended marketplace. This is one of the few services out there that are really trying to bridge the gap between social and commerce.

Soldsie has a couple of different features. Probably its most popular is the ability to turn the Instagram bio link into a shoppable gallery. As you’re probably aware, Instagram won’t allow you to add links to your posts. The only link on your whole account is found in your bio section. That’s valuable real estate, right there.

You don’t want to waste it by sending consumers to a generic landing page or even your home page. They don’t want to have to spend hours combing through that. Instead, with Soldsie, you can create a link to a shoppable gallery so that your users can find what they are looking for fast.

Another popular feature with Soldsie is its Sell Through Comments solution. This allows shoppers to comment on one of your social media posts with the hashtag #sold and be able to purchase the product. Soldsie adds the product to its cart and takes care of the rest. The customer will then receive an email invoice to finalize the transaction. Currently, Soldsie integrates with both Magento and Shopify, and it has already processed over $25 million in transactions through this feature.

Another great tool for social selling is Curalate, a visual marketing company which also has numerous features. First, it also has a shoppable link, similar to that of Soldsie, with the addition of clickable hot spots for the product featured in the image.

Curalate also has an image recognition tool that helps consumers find products that they love in pictures. Have you ever been on Pinterest or Instagram and seen an item in an image that you really wanted but, when you tried to find it, you couldn’t locate it anywhere on the web? A lot of people have, and this can be very frustrating for consumers—but Curalate can create a path to helping consumers find your products.

Curalate also gives brands the ability to monitor which of their products is getting attention across social media sites and it can feature UGC on product pages.

Tips on Improving Sales on Social Media

Social media has already revolutionized the way that we communicate and network, and it’s also changing the way we shop. Businesses can capitalize on this and work on capturing more sales with social media with the right strategy. While there is a ton of information on this out there, here are a few tips on how you can improve sales with social media.

  1. Identify the Right Platform

We mentioned earlier that Twitter is moving away from its eCommerce focus because it decided that wasn’t the best platform for it. Each social media platform is different and attracts different people. Maybe your audience isn’t on Twitter; maybe they are on Pinterest. Before you can start improving your sales, you have to identify your audience and figure out where they are at.

  1. Listen to Your Audience

After you have found your audience, you also have to listen to it. Social media is a great platform to learn more about your audience, what its needs are, what it is looking for, etc. There is no point in pushing out content to your audience that doesn’t resonate. Listen to what it wants and personalize your social media strategy to it.

  1. Embrace an Omni-Channel Strategy

Omni-channel can be a bit of buzzword in the eCommerce industry, but it’s going to become the norm—if you don’t consider it to be already. You can’t just sell on your website. You need to invest in developing experiences which allow consumers to buy from multiple marketplaces, including social channels. You also need to make sure that this process is seamless across all boards.

  1. Invest in Quality Images

In the eCommerce space, images are everything. Consumers can’t walk into your store and touch a product or try it on. All they have to go on is your word and your images. Make sure that you invest in high-quality images to correctly display your products.

  1. Provide Support via Social

Chatbots and messaging services within social media apps are great ways to communicate with your audience. You don’t want to just send out blatant marketing messages, but offer real support via social. Being able to answer questions and solve problems for customers in real-time via social helps to provide better customer service, which, in turn, increase your brand image and help retain customers.

  1. Feature UGC

UGC, or user generated content, is content that is created and shared by your fans and followers on social platforms. This can be created organically by the consumers, or you can encourage them to do so via requests, contests, or giveaways.

UGC can be very powerful—consumers who come across UGC are 97% more likely to convert than people who didn’t. Images prove to be especially powerful. Online shoppers prefer UGC 77% over professional images.


Whether you like it or not, social media is changing the eCommerce game. 79% of marketers who use social media to increase their sales outperform those who don’t. It’s not an optional practice anymore. It’s time for eCommerce retailers to not only embrace social media as a communication platform but also as a marketplace.