As content and commerce intermingle, brands have the opportunity to tell stories and fuel interactions that were not possible beforehand, writes Shea Warnes.
Admit it: we’ve all been tempted to buy a novel product that’s shown up on our Instagram feeds—and with the ease to buy within the platform, making an unexpected purchase sometimes feel almost irresistible. Social media has evolved to make content more shoppable, effectively turning the spaces where we connect and socialize into e-commerce platforms in their own right.
This evolution sets the stage for a new phase in e-commerce that we Monks call “everywhere commerce”, in which consumers no longer need to visit a store or digital marketplace to make a purchase—now, the opportunity to buy is everywhere as content and commerce intermingle.
This does more than give brands another place to make a sale. It also demands that they rethink their approach to asset production and the role that it plays in connecting with consumers, both in social and e-commerce environments.
The shopification of social media
783 billion dollarydoos. That’s how much Research & Markets predicts the social commerce global market to grow by 2027—currently worth A$115bn dollars. The phenomenal growth comes down to a simple but compelling proposition: fish where the fish are.
Social commerce’s strength is underpinned by the sheer number of hours people spend on social media apps, with Australians spending a third of their online time here. 81% of shoppers use social channels to research products, while 83% of Australian shoppers have found new products via Instagram according to data from the platform, so we know it’s a powerful environment for priming. Now it’s evolved to be a destination for converting customers, too.
As a performance-led marketeer, social commerce reduces funnel friction. Brands already advertise on social media to drive consumers to their website or platforms. Now they will use the same advertising dollars to generate revenues, instead of just traffic making social media more attributable.
This, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the supply of innovative commerce functionalities by leading social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram Shops allow businesses to create a single store that’s easily accessed through ads, stories and posts. In June 2020, Snapchat launched in-app shopping with selected influencers and TikTok followed suit shortly after. More recently, Instagram took frictionless shopping to the next level by expanding Checkouts to Reels and IGTV—making Australia the first market outside of the Americas and Europe to be testing.
And it’s not just social platforms evolving into marketplaces. Marketplaces themselves are becoming more social. Amazon Live forays into livestream shopping (think QVC), often bringing brands together with well-loved influencers to host. This follows the incredible success livestream commerce has had in China: Alibaba’s Taobao Live, a livestream for merchants, made US$7.5bn in the first 30 minutes of its Singles’ Day event last October.
New channels create new opportunities to connect
As the lines blur between commerce and content, brands have a real opportunity to show up for audiences in new ways by telling stories or fuelling interactions that were never possible before.
MediaMonks Chief Creative Officer Jouke Vuurmans has an approach he calls feeding the feeds: “To reach today’s audiences, brands should ‘feed the feeds’ with relevant content that drives impact and conversation—and inspires audiences to act.” He argues for actions over ads, and that’s an important point: as brands seek to make their social posts more shoppable, they must do so in ways that feel natural for the platform and are authentic to the audience.
This was our goal in partnering with Twitch to help our friends at Audible launch the Audible Live Club, a twist on the classic book club. The activation invites Twitch streamers to listen to Audible Originals live with their audiences, building off the service’s trend of increasingly popular non-gaming content and discussion.
For many brands, influencers have served as a convenient and short-term solution for asset creation—but activations like this one also showcase how important they are in creating social connections on a storytelling level as commerce and content collide.
Production must accelerate to the speed of conversation
In addition to a need for experiences that feel at home on social channels and the way people connect, everywhere commerce has a couple of other implications for the way brands build and deliver creative to their audiences.
First, it must be dynamic. Do away with putting all your focus on a hero video, and instead break it up into several ideas threaded together and formatted to fit the unique features and characteristics of the channels you want to serve. The context of a “swipe up” on Instagram Stories isn’t the same as a shoppable post on Facebook, so don’t treat it as such.
On a related note, brands require more variety in their assets to accommodate different taste and interests—whether that means shooting several different product configurations, representing a more diverse range of audiences and cultures, or partnering with many influencers who speak to different audiences.
On this need, our “assets at scale” workstream to create a unified suite of creative assets from a single shoot that fuels all consumer touchpoints for different shaped brands. This level of smart production ultimately allows our clients to deliver more content that’s fit for format and at a lower cost.
The brands that will win over the next decade will be the ones that best leverage social commerce as it matures and becomes normal behaviour. This will require a sophisticated new content production OS –built toward fuelling new social experiences that not only inspire purchases but build a lasting sense of connection with consumers everywhere they communicate with the people and the brands they love.