What Is Social Commerce? Definition, Benefits, and Best Platforms

Social commerce has transformed how people shop online and engage with their favorite brands. But what is social commerce exactly, and how can it help you stay ahead of the curve in this era of rapid technological advancements?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of social commerce and its growing significance in the modern retail landscape. 

More importantly, we’ll offer advice on how you, as a business owner, can capitalize on this trend to expand your reach, enhance customer experiences, and boost your bottom line. So, buckle up and get ready for an exciting dive into the world of social commerce!

Key Takeaways

  • Social commerce refers to buying and selling products or services through a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram.
  • Social commerce enhances brand awareness, generates social proof, and encourages user-generated content.
  • The primary social commerce sites are Facebook Shops, Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shops, and Pinterest Product Pins.
  • Companies that implement a social commerce strategy can integrate it with their existing e-commerce site, gather data on customers, meet customer expectations, and engage with customers. 
  • The future of social commerce will increase as more social media companies implement shopping features. 
what is social commerce

Social Commerce Definition

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through your social media feed, stumbling upon a product that piques your interest, and purchasing it without ever leaving the app? If so, you’ve experienced social commerce firsthand. 

We can define social commerce as the act of buying and selling products or services directly through social media platforms. It integrates e-commerce functionality into social networking sites, allowing users to shop while staying connected with friends, family, and their favorite brands.

Social commerce falls into two main types: social commerce marketplaces and social commerce features on social media platforms.

Social Commerce Marketplaces

Social commerce marketplaces are dedicated platforms where users can browse, purchase, and sell products or services within the social media environment. Examples include Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shops. 

These marketplaces often showcase a variety of products from different sellers, making it easy for potential customers to discover and buy products without leaving the platform.

Social Commerce Features on Social Media Platforms

Many social media sites have built-in features that enable brands to showcase and sell their products directly within the platform. 

These native social commerce tools include:

  • Facebook Shops: Allows businesses to set up an online store on their Facebook page.
  • Pinterest product pins: Enables users to purchase products featured in pins directly from the platform. 

By incorporating these features, businesses can leverage social media users’ inherent trust and familiarity with the platform to facilitate a seamless buying process and drive sales.

The Relationship Between Social Commerce and E-Commerce

Social commerce marks an evolution in traditional e-commerce that leverages the power of social media to enhance online shopping experiences. 

With the rise of mobile users and the ubiquity of social media usage, consumer behavior has shifted significantly. Consumers expect more immersive, interactive, and personalized shopping experiences that align with their online habits. 

Social commerce blends the best of both worlds, combining the convenience and accessibility of e-commerce with the interactive and social aspects of social media.

Unlike traditional e-commerce, where customers typically search for products on a brand’s website, social commerce enables product discovery through social media channels. 

Consumers discover new products through influencers, friend recommendations, or platform algorithms that curate products based on user preferences. 

Once they find a product they like, users complete their purchase without leaving the platform, helping businesses reduce abandoned shopping carts and streamline the buying process. 

By tapping into the social nature of online shopping, social commerce fosters word-of-mouth recommendations, generates social proof, and ultimately boosts sales.

Advantages of Social Commerce

social commerce benefits

As companies grow their social commerce efforts, they find advantages over traditional e-commerce. Among the most significant benefits are:

Brand Awareness

The potential to increase brand awareness merged as a primary benefit of social commerce. Social media platforms offer massive user bases that businesses tap into to expand their reach and target potential customers. 

By showcasing products and services directly on social media, businesses catch the attention of users who might not have discovered their brand through traditional e-commerce alone. 

Additionally, social commerce features, such as share buttons and user content, serve as a positive feedback loop, spreading awareness and driving further engagement among a user’s social contacts.

Influencer Marketing

Influencers play a significant role in driving social commerce sales. They have substantial followings on their social media accounts and strong credibility among their followers. 

By collaborating with influencers, businesses gain access to a wider audience and increase the likelihood of their products or services being seen, trusted, and purchased. 

Influencers help businesses by promoting products, creating engaging content, and driving traffic to their social commerce platforms, ultimately increasing sales.

Social Proof and User-Generated Content (UGC)

Social proof serves as a powerful motivator for consumer behavior. When potential customers see others enjoying a product or service, they are more likely to trust the brand and make a purchase. 

Social commerce leverages UGC, such as reviews, testimonials, and user images, to establish credibility and build trust with potential customers. 

Encouraging customers to share their experiences and recommendations through social media not only provides valuable social proof but also helps create a sense of community around the brand.

Top Social Commerce Platforms

Companies interested in breaking into the social commerce field need to be aware of the social commerce platforms available and understand where their target audience interacts with these social platforms. 

The primary social commerce platforms where companies are finding success are:

Facebook Shops and Facebook Marketplace

Facebook is the pioneering social commerce platform, offering businesses multiple avenues for selling products and services directly on the platform. 

Facebook Shops allows businesses to set up a customizable online store within their Facebook page, where customers can browse products, make purchases, and even chat with the business through Facebook Messenger. 

Facebook Marketplace is a more user-centric platform that enables individual users and businesses alike to buy and sell products within their local community.

Instagram Shops

Instagram has also emerged as a prominent player in social commerce with the introduction of Instagram Shops. 

This feature allows businesses to create a fully integrated shopping experience within the app, showcasing their products in a visually appealing manner. 

Users can browse products, view details, and complete purchases without leaving the app. 

Instagram Shops have become particularly popular among fashion brands and other visually driven businesses thanks to the platform’s focus on aesthetic and visual storytelling.

Pinterest Product Pins

Pinterest, the visual discovery platform, has also ventured into the social commerce landscape, offering businesses the ability to create shoppable product pins. 

These pins enable users to click on products within pins and be taken directly to the retailer’s website to complete their purchase. 

By integrating e-commerce functionality into its platform, Pinterest has positioned itself as a valuable tool for businesses looking to drive sales and boost brand visibility.

Implementing a Social Commerce Strategy

Once your company understands the social commerce concept, you must develop a social commerce strategy to effectively reach potential customers through their preferred social media platforms. 

Integrate Social Commerce Features With E-Commerce Platforms

When incorporating social commerce into your business strategy, it’s crucial to ensure that the social commerce features integrate seamlessly with your existing e-commerce website or platform. 

This integration helps provide a smooth buying process for customers, which is essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and driving conversions. 

Your business must also ensure that the social commerce platforms you partner with are mobile-friendly, as a growing majority of online shoppers use mobile devices to browse and make purchases.

Collect and Analyze Customer Data

Your company will optimize its social commerce strategy by monitoring customer data and behavior on social commerce platforms. By collecting and analyzing data, you gain insights into customer preferences, trends, and pain points. 

This valuable information allows your company to refine product offerings, improve marketing strategies, and create more personalized and engaging online shopping experiences for customers.

Meet Customer Expectations

To succeed in social commerce, your business must prioritize meeting customer expectations and delivering a positive online shopping experience. 

Providing responsive customer support, addressing feedback and concerns promptly, and continually improving and updating the platform to meet customer needs allow your company to create a satisfying customer experience

By striving to exceed customers’ expectations, your business can build lasting relationships that result in repeat purchases and long-term brand loyalty.

Engage With Customers

Driving social commerce success comes easier when you engage with customers. When done right, customer engagement can generate loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations, both of which drive sales and boost ROI. 

To keep customers engaged and encourage them to purchase products through social commerce platforms, your business should focus on:

  • Creating a personalized shopping experience 
  • Offering exclusive discounts and promotions 
  • Encouraging user content 
  • Leveraging influencers 
  • Responding to customer feedback and inquiries quickly 
  • Offering customer rewards programs 

With the right mix of engagement tactics, your business can increase customer loyalty, drive awareness and conversions, and experience the rewards of social commerce. 

Successful Social Commerce Examples

social commerce examples

As you consider breaking into the social commerce market, these three companies with successful social commerce strategies provide inspiration.


Nike has found success on social media by leveraging influencer marketing, brand advocacy, and shoppable posts to engage customers and convert followers into buyers. 

Nike also makes use of user content to showcase its products and create a sense of community around its brand. 


Sephora has fully embraced the power of social commerce, leveraging its platform to build relationships with customers and drive sales. 

Through virtual consultations, dedicated social commerce channels, and participation in popular online challenges, Sephora has cemented its place as one of the top online beauty retailers. 

Warby Parker 

Warby Parker has become a leader in the eyewear market by leveraging social commerce to offer customers a personalized shopping experience. 

With features like its Virtual Try-on Tool and Buy-One-Give-One program, Warby Parker focuses on creating a positive customer experience and driving conversions. 

The Future of Social Commerce

Social commerce is undeniably a powerful force in the retail industry, and its influence is only expected to grow in the coming years. Here’s a look at possible social commerce trends:

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR have already started to make their way into social commerce. For example, Snapchat has a feature called Lens Studio that allows users to create their own AR filters, and Instagram has IGTV, which allows users to create and share longer videos.

In the future, we can expect to see more AR and VR in social commerce, which will allow buyers to have a more interactive and immersive social shopping experience.

Personalized Experiences

Social media platforms already use algorithms to show users personalized content and ads based on their interests and browsing behavior. In the future, we can expect to see even more personalized experiences in social commerce.

For example, social commerce sites might show users personalized product recommendations or offer personalized discounts and promotions.

Increased Integration of Messaging Apps

Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are already used by businesses to communicate with customers. We can expect to see even more integration of messaging apps in social shopping. For example, thanks to artificial intelligence, customers might be able to place orders through AI assistants, ask for product recommendations or tutorials and get real-time answers, and more.

Final Thoughts

Social commerce is redefining the way people shop, blurring the lines between social media and e-commerce to create a more engaging, interactive, and customer-centric online shopping experience. 

By understanding the nuances of social commerce and harnessing its immense potential, your business can reach out to an expanding market, enhance brand loyalty, and generate increased sales. 

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is social commerce?” you can embrace this exciting opportunity and help your business thrive in today’s ever-connected, mobile-first environment.