Social Media Shopping How It Works & 5 Trends

Many modern businesses have already transitioned to online retail to spread brand awareness to new markets and reach consumers they otherwise wouldn't have the means to. Lately, many companies have also ventured to social media platforms, which allow them to interact with customers.

The rise of social media shopping has enabled businesses to marry customer engagement and marketing, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

What is Social Media Shopping?

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Social media shopping, also referred to as social commerce, is when businesses sell products and services via social media platforms. While often used synonymously, social commerce is different from social media marketing, which only promotes content on the platforms to drive users to the brand's external website.

With social media shopping, users can browse, share, and purchase products from a retailer without having to leave the app. However, some businesses use it to redirect consumers to their branded websites, boosting traffic and engagement.

This form of commerce also enables retailers to merge customer relationship and sales management, as social media allows brands to directly connect with their shoppers. In fact, studies show that 62% of retail businesses that already use social commerce reported that it improved their customer communication.

How Does Social Media Shopping Work?

While many platforms use social media shopping, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are among the most popular outlets.

Instagram and Facebook

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Instagram is currently the most used social commerce platform, as 70% of shoppers visit Instagram to discover new products.

The social platform developed Instagram Checkout as an addition to their already popular Shopping feature, which allows users to finalize transactions within the app. With this function, consumers can avoid opening up additional windows and repeating steps on the brand's website.

Similarly, Facebook has its own Marketplace and allows brands to create their own Page Shops to showcase their products and services. Page managers can change product lists and sell within their page. Facebook also offers additional marketing features that allow companies to publish advertisements.

The Facebook Messenger, brands can use automated chatbots to assist customers along their shopping journey. Chatbots can answer questions, offer exclusive deals, and direct shoppers to various products.


Pinterest has used their buyable pins feature, which allows users to purchase items they click on, for years. However, they recently developed Shop the Look, a tool that emphasizes items within a post that are available for purchase.

For brands, Pinterest allows coordinators to update their catalogs at any time.

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Social media shopping is showing no signs of slowing down. Therefore, businesses should consider emerging trends to determine if extending their sales channels is worth the investment.


As new social media platforms enter the market and gain popularity, they are slowly integrated shopping capabilities. For example, TikTok was introduced as an entertainment app where users can post short videos of their interest. Now, the company is experimenting with e-commerce, allowing brands to link their products in posts.

This allows businesses to reach their target market worldwide, as there are videos on TikTok that appeal to many interests, such as comedy, cooking, shopping, and decorating.

User-Generated Content

Social media platforms have recognized that consumers tend to trust user-generated content more than traditional marketing campaigns. This is especially true for younger generations who have grown up with social media and understand the value of honest product reviews.

Some businesses have started integrating positive customer reviews into their social media ads and posts to boost their engagement and conversion rates. Brands that are just starting should consider offering various incentives, such as discounts, to customers in exchange for product reviews.

Customer Experience

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The customer experience is often what determines if a consumer will repeat purchases and become a loyal patron. In order to provide the best customer service, businesses need access to data that explains shoppers' preferences, interests, and dislikes.

Social media provides another way that brands can monitor customers in real-time. In fact, many platforms have a built-in analytics system that measures customer engagement, likes, conversions, and demographics.

Through data collection and analysis, companies can optimize the shopping journey by eliminating pain points and improving convenience.

Data Security and Privacy

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The main concerns among social media users and online shoppers, in general, are privacy and data security. Once users make a purchase, their personal and billing information are at risk of identity theft.

To combat fraudulent activity, many platforms and states have implemented data policies that impact how businesses collect, retain, and use customer information. Some companies go a step further and review their own security policies with shoppers to give them peace of mind.

B2B Marketing

While most social media shopping is catered to consumers, some companies are using social commerce as business-to-business (B2B) marketing. Much like business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, B2B markets products and services to an entity. However, some brands find it difficult to publicly sell to other companies.

While many businesses are exploring the different ways they can market to other organizations, social commerce has already proven to work well for those that sell subscriptions and applications.