by Kyle Wong, Co-Founder and President, Pixlee TurnTo, finalist of Best Content Management Innovation in a SaaS Product at SaaS Awards 2022
The modern shopper expects e-commerce experiences to mirror the social channels they’re drawn to. 52% of Gen Z consumers say social media is their top source of brand discovery, and for good reason. Channels like TikTok and Instagram now frame online shopping as a shared, social experience. Today, it’s mainstream to learn about a product through an influencer’s “favorites” collection on Instagram or a shoppable TikTok campaign, and complete the checkout process in seconds.
As social platforms continue catering to socially-driven shopping experiences through their own native features, consumers look for a similar experience when shopping online from brands they love. Social commerce technology bridges the gap between the two; brands need the proper tooling to seed social content across the buyer journey.
Content created for social media has the potential to drive engagement and conversions when showcased on a brand’s website, creating a positive feedback loop of traffic between social and site. Influencer and user-generated content (UGC) should live on a brand’s ecommerce website to both humanize the company and instill purchase confidence in shoppers. By showcasing social, community-driven content on-site and making it shoppable, site visitors are more likely to trust a brand and identify with the real people they see on its website.
Just as social media platforms are rolling out features to support in-app product discovery and purchases, the right software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms can help brands harness and reuse the content shared on those platforms, while optimizing it for conversion and sales.
The answer lies in recognizing the value of this social content as core to the customer experience outside of social media alone. Using the right content management technology, brands can create a customer journey that takes advantage of that social content in a bidirectional capacity.
As social media continues to be a source of truth for potential buyers, and customer proof becomes increasingly critical to brand credibility, brands must leverage cutting edge technology to monetize, amplify and measure the powerful customer stories being shared by consumers on social media.
The Influence of Social Media on Ecommerce
Anyone who’s spent time on TikTok is likely familiar with the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. This phenomenon refers to customers who made a purchase after viewing other users’ genuine praise for the brand or product on TikTok. Similarly, Instagram isn’t just a place to see what your friends are up to anymore. Users can now shop for specific products from Reels, stories, static posts, collections, suggestions on the explore page, and more — without having to leave the app. Ecommerce and social media are more intertwined than ever before, with the latter shaping consumers’ purchasing decisions, often subconsciously.
Bringing social media content from users, influencers, and the brand itself into other brand channels like email and website displays harnesses the word-of-mouth marketing that social media gives rise to. That’s why the most innovative, successful brands bring social selling into their owned marketing channels through shoppable galleries of social posts. Consumers trust other people like them, and the best brands let that shine through on their own channels.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
One of the most Instagrammed hotels in the world, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas boasts luxurious, picturesque restaurants, guest rooms, and activity centers. Resharing media from fans, employees, and guests alike, the hotel ultimately drove over 250 million impressions overall by showcasing this Social UGC across various touchpoints of the brand’s marketing strategy.
Similarly to the way social channels use algorithms to show users highly-relevant posts that are likely to resonate well with them, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas creates unique website displays geared towards individual site visitors’ experiences. For example, the hotel’s team uses image recognition within Pixlee TurnTo’s technology to feature real photos from bachelorette parties at the hotel in a dedicated events page.
Accessing authentic social content is only one step of the journey. Brands look to their technology vendors as strategic partners, and standout tech solutions give them a way to extend the impact of social media content on ecommerce. In other words, the world of ecommerce looks to SaaS companies and their technologies to weave UGC and influencer content throughout critical points of the consumer experience, and create clear paths to purchase each time.
The Role of SaaS in Social Commerce
Especially for enterprise-level brands, the amount of social content being produced from members of their brand communities may feel endless and unmanageable. Marketers and brand teams often don’t have the time or resources to manually collect and share user-generated content related to their brands. They rely on UGC and influencer marketing SaaS products like Pixlee TurnTo, both to access social content and to skillfully incorporate that content into unique places within the customer journey.
Apparel brand Windsor built up an engaged community of users on Instagram, consistently sharing content and engaging with posts related to the brand by followers and creators. Knowing the potential value of this social content on the brand’s ecommerce campaigns, Windsor then utilized Pixlee TurnTo to build various “Shop the Look” galleries of product-tagged Instagram posts sourced from community members. Now, Windsor shoppers are able to access those posts sitewide and in emails, and shop directly from them. This tech-backed approach to social commerce provides a crucial layer of contextualization and social proof that paves the way to a purchase.
Alo Yoga is known for its trendy athletic wear, and is especially popular among influencers and users in general on Instagram and TikTok. To create a socially-driven ecommerce experience that aligns with the brand’s mission to “bring yoga to the world,” Alo Yoga relies on UGC technology to access and showcase content from its community across their website and other marketing channels.
Additionally, Alo developed a mobile app featuring an inspiration gallery designed exactly like Instagram’s explore page, and showcased customer UGC on individual product pages within the app. This is exactly the kind of social influences and innovation consumers expect to see from ecommerce brands, and scaling this initiative wouldn’t have been possible without Pixlee TurnTo’s UGC and social commerce technology.
Windsor is just one example of many brands looking to technology partners as advisors when it comes to integrating social media content into the online shopping experience. UGC and influencer content are powerful influences on ecommerce by themselves. When strategically placed throughout the customer journey by a SaaS provider that knows where and when that content will be most influential, social content stands to drive conversion and engagement outside of the platforms it originated on.
There’s no doubt social media is a necessary tool for brands to build a well-rounded ecommerce strategy, but framing social content and ecommerce as a two-way street is an underutilized approach to social commerce. Going beyond the social platforms themselves to derive value sets up brands for increased success from the content that originated on them, but only when they have dedicated technology partners helping them discover and implement that value.