Using Social Media as an E-Commerce Sales Tool

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By Published On: May 15, 20180 Comments

Thanks to the emergence of social shopping, brands are better equipped than ever before to take advantage of shifting consumer and social media usage habits.

New research by Roy Morgan has revealed the browsing habits of thousands of active monthly social media users in Australia, with the report concluding that consumers are spending more time on social media pages like Facebook and Instagram than they are watching TV, reading magazines, or even listening to the radio.

“Research exploring how Australians engage with different types of social media reveals some interesting insights. Young women in Australia spend an average of nearly two hours a day on social media compared to just over an hour for similarly aged young men,” Michele Levine, the CEO of Roy Morgan says.

While Levine acknowledges that this data in itself isn’t enough for businesses to go off when marketing their brands, it does provide some interesting insight for retailers who are looking to expand their reach and increase their sales through popular social media channels, especially when it comes to shoppable posts.

According to BigCommerce, almost 25 percent of businesses are selling products through Facebook, with 40 percent of brands using social media as a whole to generate sales. From a consumer standpoint, 30 percent of users are reportedly open to making purchases through Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

In response to these increasing figures, a number of social media channels are updating their capabilities to create a seamless shopping experience for businesses and consumers alike. Among these are the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.


In March 2018, Instagram launched its shopping feature, which allows brands to tag up to five products in a post. When a user clicks on each tag, they will be presented with a few pieces of relevant information, including a product description, image, and price point.

“Shopping will give a seamless experience for users who want more information on products. They can go through Instagram without having to switch between apps and with a couple of taps buy the product,” Amy Cole, Instagram’s head of business development said at the feature’s launch.

Instagram in-app shopping functionality

Instagram’s in-app shopping feature.

Consumers also receive a direct link to the company’s website to complete the purchase. After trialling the feature, brands such as Marks and Spencer reportedly increased online revenue by as much as eight percent.


Snapchat is also investing in the social shopping trend, by helping customers who are ready to move down the sales funnel to do so in a convenient and direct manner.

The company started using AR technology to enhance user experience back in November 2017, but recently expanded this offering to include a shoppable AR experience.

By clicking on a video or image in Lens Studio, users will be prompted to install or open a brand’s app, where they are directed to a product landing page or a subscription form. Once the customer is on the website, it will be up to the brand to entice the customer to stay and make a purchase. This can be achieved by offering coupon codes, sharing product demonstration videos, and offering free downloads.

When accessing a company’s website through Snapchat, users are also able to try products on using Snapchat’s Lens Studio functionality.

There are also rumours circulating that Snapchat is working on developing e-commerce features that will allow users to shop directly through the app. 


Retailers that have a Pinterest for Business account can now sell products directly through the image-sharing app with ‘Buy Now’ Pins.

Businesses need to get approval from Pinterest before they can use Buyable Pins, but once they are, the social channel can be used as a direct sales platform. This feature is particularly useful for brands that are highly visual, like homewares and fashion retailers.

The set-up is ideal for encouraging impulse purchases, as users just have to click on the red ‘Buy It’ button to conveniently purchase a product.

Early reception to this shoppable feature has been lower than similar offerings on Instagram, with Macy’s reporting low sales on the platform. However, Shopify claims its average sale on the platform is $50.

According to Levine, social media usage and the prevalence of social shopping functionalities look like they’re here to stay.

“The increasing centrality of social networks to our way of life shows no sign of receding anytime soon,” Levine says. So, the question is, are you taking advantage of all of the channels available to you to grow your sales?

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