Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How Social Commerce Can Help Your eCommerce Business Grow

Facebook’s annual developer conference F8 recently wrapped up for 2019.

As usual, there were the normal announcements of platform changes, interviews with partner developers, and spotlights on brands who have achieved impressive growth through or with Facebook.

But there was something this year that was a little out of the ordinary.

There was a strong focus on a marketing tactic that’s currently growing from strength to strength and generating thousands for brands across the globe.

Social commerce.

We saw Facebook-led talks about how to grow your brand through Messenger and panels featuring brand partners from social commerce brands.

Conversational commerce, social marketing, and social commerce are now jumping to the mainstream. They’re deemed important enough by Facebook to make up a huge part of their developer conference.

social commerce ecommerce - facebook helping drive ecommerce sales

Full disclosure, I’m a member of the Jumper team. You’ll notice our CEO in the above image and panel. 

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, thinks social commerce is important enough that all of their partners need to know about it. And thus, we think you should know more about them too.

But here’s the thing.

Even in its brief lifetime, conversational marketing has exploded. It’s become a potential revenue generator for brands of every different size and has branched out into several different disciplines.  

There’s a ton of different conversational methods of marketing out there.

  • Drift is a B2B conversational marketing platform helping large brands close other large brands as clients.
  • Intercom offers a slew of live chat solutions ideal for software business that need to offer round the clock help.  
  • ManyChat and MobileMonkey are great tools for automated chatbots that keep your users engaged by minimizing response time.

These are all great methods of engaging users. But they’re not specifically focused on eCommerce sales.

Sure, you can bend some of them to help out, but without that native functionality, you’re going to waste more time figuring it out. And as a busy store owner, you don’t have that time.

You need results and you need them ASAP.

So today, I’m going to run you through the only conversational marketing method that’s specifically focused on making ecommerce sales.  

I’m going to run you through the awesome power of social commerce.

What is Social Commerce?

Quite simply, it’s the sales of products directly through social media. It differs from regular social media marketing because you don’t need to redirect users to your store or product page.

They’re able to purchase directly from your social post or even Instagram stories. 

You’ll have seen this in action already.  Facebook Marketplace is a good example. And then you’ve got the recent (limited rollout) introduction of Instagram Checkouts that take this to the next level.

These solutions are great, but they’re limited in a number of ways:

  • Facebook Marketplace isn’t really great for brands operating a professional business. It’s geared more towards individuals selling single items.
  • Instagram checkout is currently only available to select brands and influencers.
  • All similar solutions are available only on their parent network.

In short, they might help make a couple more sales, but they’re not great for brands wanting to roll out an integrated, omnichannel approach.

Fortunately, there are a few services out there that will help you achieve this.

But first, let’s look at why you should care beyond the hype.

Why You Should Care About Social Commerce

Picture this. You’re out at the mall with friends.  

You stumble across a small store. In the window is a pair of shoes you’d love to buy so you go in and ask for a little more detail. The assistant runs you through the shoes’ features and really highlights those benefits.

You’re ready to buy.

But, as you reach for your wallet, the assistant stops you and says “if you want to buy these, head to our store”. This is only a display model. To buy them you’ve got to drive 15 minutes away to their primary storefront.

Would you go?

No, right?

It sounds stupid, but this is the purchase journey most brands offer with their social marketing. They’re engaging consumers on social, but to actually buy something, you’d have to switch to a browser window and search again for the shoes, or navigate their webpage. Consumers who aren’t on the platform to shop, but to connect with friends. And yet they still try and force a lengthy purchase journey on people who aren’t actively looking to buy.

Here’s an example from a recent ad targeted at me from the business card printer Moo.

customer buying journey from facebook to website - social commerce ecommerce

That’s just a portion of the purchase journey/customer life cycle. There’s still more steps after that.

Now, I am in the market for some new business cards. But when I saw that ad I was narcissistically looking for pics of myself at a friend’s recent wedding.

The offer in the ad might re-engage me. But after going through 3+ steps I’m going to lose interest and revert back to looking for images of me looking suave.

Imagine if after engaging with that ad I could choose the product I wanted without leaving Facebook. If the ad led to an in-app conversation. One that asked me what I wanted, discovered the features and designs I hoped to buy, and then allowed me to check out, would I be more likely to complete the purchase right then and there?

Probably, yes.

It’s a simpler, more streamlined purchase journey. My intent as a social media user is not serious research, but fun procrastination. So the conversational approach is more likely to align with my current mindset and lead me through to the end goal of a purchase.

But I’m just one man, right?

My opinion counts for little when you’re staking the future of your business on the effectiveness of this new methodology. So, don’t take it from me. Let these results be your guide.

What are some of the Results from Social Commerce ?

With its streamlined path to purchase conversational connection, and of course its smart leveraging of social channels it’s easy to think social commerce is the solution to all your sales woes.

And, well, you’re kinda right. It is a great method of increasing sales.  

In the last year or three, I’ve personally seen it generate huge levels of engagement and sales.

When trialing messenger marketing against email for transactional emails (cart abandonment) Recart saw a huge increase in opens, clicks, and sales.

abandoned car emails vs messenger click rate revenue recovered - social commerce ecommerce

When working with Marvel, Jumper used social commerce to achieve a 58% conversion rate from their fans, raising it to a 68% conversion rate thanks to retargeting. That’s 68% sale conversion rate which is definitely worthy of note.

marvel singapore advertising - social commerce ecommerce

Neil Patel recently experienced an 88% open and 56% CTR from a Messenger campaign. Massively outperforming the control of email.

Look, I could spend another couple of minutes Googling and presenting stats that confirm this really is a better way to engage your suers.

But when you look at this logically it’s hardly surprising that social commerce is driving these results.

The big networks have been experimenting with this method since 2007. That’s 12 years.

social media commerce timing pinterest selling - social commerce ecommerce

It’s been a bumpy road with more than a few mistakes, but the big brands have finally figured it out. They’ve finally settled on a process that’s making them real money and are ready to promote it to the world.

Between the results brands are experiencing and the recent push to promote social commerce methodologies, now is the best time to start your social commerce campaign.

Let’s take a quick look at a. Couple of real-life examples and how they work.

Examples of Social Commerce in the Real World

Up until this point, everything I’ve mentioned has been sort of intangible. I’ve quoted studies, talked about the concept at a high level, and used a healthy amount of speculation.

So let’s put social commerce in real terms and look at a few real-life campaigns that drove great results.

Marvel’s 68% Conversion Rate for their Infinity War/Ant-Man and the Wasp movie

As one of the biggest entertainment brands in the world, Marvel doesn’t really need to do much to promote their movies.

However, there’s also a reason Disney (Marvel’s parent company) has grown to their current level.

They’re always experimenting with new technologies and methodologies to increase user engagement.

In the promotion of Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, they ran a successful social commerce campaign.

In short, they ran organic posts to their huge audience and added an automated chatbot checkout to the end.

If users wanted to buy a ticket, they just had to engage with their post. That engagement opened a chat where they could pick their preferred cinema, movie time, and seats.

The gif above shows one of the ads they used in promoting the movie.

Users swipe up to start the checkout. Once they do, they receive messages through either Messenger that lead them through the purchase process.  

Here’s what it looked like when promoting Ant-Man and the Wasp.

messenger sales marvel ant man movie promotion - social commerce ecommerce

These gif laden conversations are more in line with the user’s mindset on social. They’re there for fun, not to buy anything. Aligning with that intent is what led to the impressive success stats:

  • A 58% conversion rate
  • Rising to 68% when retargeting was taken into account
  • 18X more comments than any other in-season content

It’s an incredible success, but what helped them achieve these rates?

Key Actions Marvel used to Achieve this Success:

  1. They first and foremost understood user intent. People are on social for fun. So they created highly engaging posts and kept the fun level high through the chatbot checkout.
  2. They targeted their best potential target audience, their active fans on social.
  3. They also used smart retargeting thanks to their Facebook pixel to pick up any people who didn’t convert.

Ben and Jerry got audiences excited to try samples of Pint Slices

Samples are one of the best ways to drive excitement for a new store or new product range.

People love getting something for free. And if you’ve got something like a paid promotion or referral ready on the back end, that excitement can turn into dollars in your bank.

This is the approach Ben and Jerry’s took when launching pint slices.

They ran a Facebook and Instagram ad campaign to engage users with the promise of a free sample. Those who engaged would see a similar social commerce checkout to Marvel.   

ben jerry sample launch pint slices promotion facebook - social commerce ecommerce

The chat sequence would find out the users preferred location for pickup and their favorite flavor. After finishing the chat, they’d get a QR code which could be redeemed at a vending machine for the actual product.  

ben jerry sample launch pint slices offline to online activation - social commerce ecommerce

Again, this drove massive engagement and provided a number of benefits for B&J. They managed to:

  • Move 5000 samples within 72 hours
  • Gain 2.2X the customer insights of other campaigns allowing for smart retargeting of paid promotions

So what made this a success?

Key Actions Ben and Jerry’s Used to Succeed:

  1. They created highly visual ads to focus on the Facebook and Instagram markets.
  2. They set the price at a level everyone enjoys, free!
  3. Despite not making money from this campaign, they had a plan to monetize those who engaged. The insights and details gained could translate into thousands for the brand.

Nike Using Social to Sell in Person

A lot of brands use social commerce to push products digitally. However, Nike flipped the whole approach on its head. They targeted people at a physical event with one of the key benefits of social media: location interaction.

In an effort to promote a new pair of Jordans, they left a number of scannable codes at the NBA All-Star after party. Once scanned, users would be able to buy a pair of the yet to be released shoes. 

nike air force one qr code snapchat scan activation - social commerce ecommerce

This was a partnership with Snapchat. Once scanned, the users would see something like the below to complete the purchase.

nike air jordan qr code snapchat scan activation - social commerce ecommerce

Nike sold out of the shoes in a matter of hours, demonstrating that even physical events are a great way for you to leverage social media for sales. But what was it that made this one such a success?

How Nike Ran this Successful Campaign

  1. Targeting was key. The product is an ideal purchase for basketball fans, and you’re not going to get more targeted with that than at an NBA All-Star game.
  2. They gasified the process. Again, social is about fun for many people. By hiding scannable codes around the after party there’s a natural gasified element.
  3. Leveraging the sharing potential of social. People would have been sharing the codes across their Snapchat stories thanks to the event specific filter. That’s going to whip anyone at the event into a frenzy and make anyone who’s not super jealous. Both actions that lead to more shares and better reach.

How to Double Your Profit With Social Commerce

Social commerce is one of the best ways to engage your users. It’s simple, easy, and streamlined.

The above three examples show you that you can quickly sell out of your products because of the massively high engagement rates.

However, it’s still not all you can do. Smart ecommerce professionals don’t just try to throw people at the top of their funnel. They make most of their money on the back end.

That could be through repeat purchases, upsells, cross-sells, or referrals.

It’s that last action I want to focus on here.

The smart marketers of tomorrow will use social commerce in conjunction with a smart referral program.

They’ll use social commerce to turn more browsers into buyers. Then, they’ll couple it with a referral program to turn one buyer into 2 or more.

And here’s the most exciting thing. Referral Candy is working on an integration with Jumper.ai to give you exactly this functionality.

That means you’ll be able to run the kind of campaigns that engage and convert at a never before seen scale, AND run smart referral programs to turn more of those people into multiple customers.  

If you want to test Jumper out and see how social commerce could help you increase your profits, click right here to sign up for a free account.


Pete Boyle is the founder of Have-a-Word and is the head of content for Jumper.ai. Jumper.ai is the easiest way for brands of all sizes to implement social commerce solutions and start selling more through social media.

Raúl Galera

Raúl Galera

Raúl is ReferralCandy's partner manager.