Social commerce – Why buy buttons are not enough

In 2016 nearly 52% of marketers predicted that social commerce would be the biggest trend of the year. It turned out that social commerce didn’t quite take off in the way it was predicted to. Leaving live video and influencer marketing stealing its thunder!

 Although 1 in 4 users are using mobile commerce to purchase products – many brands have struggled to find the right balance between social media and ecommerce.

In fact, it’s been recently suggested that up to 45% of adults have no current interest in clicking on a 'buy now' button, while a further quarter don’t even know the technology exists. As a result, many brands are scaling back on chatbots too (programs designed to simulate conversation with human users) after Facebook reported a failure rate of 70%.

So the question is, how can brands make social commerce appealing to users, as well as ensure the process is seamless across channels?

At a recent “We Are Social” event a number of brands spoke about their previous experience and what they think will be the key to success.  The key takeaways are listed below:

Most buy buttons do not mirror the mind-set of a user
Although users are increasingly turning to social media for shopping inspiration, many brands are failing to realise it’s a big leap for customers to actually buy on social. Currently, the reality of social commerce is often very different to the user’s expectations. Most experiences involve clicking on a link in a social bio, then being taken to an interim landing page, before finally onto the main ecommerce site itself.

“That’s a lot of disruption when you think about it, which could naturally lead to users abandoning the journey, or worse – being put off the brand as a result”  States Caroline Lucas-Garner, strategy director at We Are Social.

Caroline also suggested that buy button are very much seen the same as a pushy sales rep, which when you’re simply having a leisurely browse (or scroll), can feel frustratingly intrusive.

Brands in your DM’s (Direct Message Inbox) feel intrusive
We’ve seen the examples of branded Chatbots being created for customer service or to drive conversions. But do users really feel that comfortable allowing them into this space? Do users want to see messages from a brand alongside their family and friend? Probably not!

Dominos is one brand that has tried to get around this by creating a character specifically to front its chatbot. Dom the Pizza Bot has his own unique set of characteristics, designed to urge people to speak to it like they would a friend.

However Skyscanner, made the decision to include a ‘talk to a human’ option in its chatbot to point users towards an alternative or next step, hoping that would prevent people from abandoning their journey, by giving users an option to talk to a real employee instead.

Focus on the brand messaging – not just they’re buy button.
For brands like ASOS, who have seen an 84% growth on mobile orders year-on-year – social commerce will be a natural evolution. It is obvious that its target customer is highly engaged on social, with those aged 16-24 particularly bypassing search for social platforms like Instagram and Facebook. 

Morgan Fitzsimons, ASOS’s acting head of content and broadcast, explains how ASOS going forward is taking a three-tiered approach to targeting these kinds of customers – focusing on the top of the conversion funnel to ensure the bottom doesn’t have to work so hard. Meaning they’ll focus on the brand messaging – not just they’re buy button.

As a prime example ASOS’s recent campaign for jeans used a combination of organic and paid promotion as well as dynamic product ads. The initial video told the story of the brand but didn’t include any links, instead it hinted of the shopping experience in retargeted ads, before delivering buying options in the final push.

Morgan also admitted that it’s taken a while for ASOS to get to this stage, with previous campaigns on Snapchat failing to follow up with those who first engaged. 

Ultimately, only continued testing will determine social commerce’s success, and only then will brands understand how customers will best respond in this new and unique platform.