Christmas is upon us, but so is Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the end of season sales and a host of other opportunities to capture consumers within your sales funnel.
But one of the biggest changes in 2020 is a vast rise in the rate of people shopping online, with Salesforce estimating 30% of all retail sales will happen online this year.
And yet online has come to mean more than websites lately, with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok vying for a greater share of social commerce.
Here are my six tips for preparing your brand for this winter’s consumer rush…
1. Get your Shop in order
If you haven’t already, make starting a Shop on Facebook or Instagram your priority.
Both platforms are pushing Shops as much as any other product this year, having launched the free-to-use commerce tool to businesses in May.
Instagram’s Season of Shops guide explains more, but essentially Shops allow brands to create a digital storefront to promote through Stories and platform ads.
As well as integrating with existing ecommerce services like Shopify, Shops boasts opportunities for customisation, seamless messaging and straightforward payments.
2. Begin taking your branded content seriously
In addition to Shops, Instagram recently unveiled shoppable IGTV videos, which means yet another opportunity for brands to get their products and services seen.
But create a cut and paste ad for IGTV at your peril. If you want to engage consumers, an effective branded content strategy is a must – but make it native.
Some of the most successful videos on IGTV are episodic and take cues from creators that are entertaining, educational and reactive, so bear this in mind.
IGTV also provides a perfect space and format for brand storytelling, so channel your inner Burberry or John Lewis to open your brand to new audiences this year.
As for a strategy, research what works in your space and create mobile videos that nod to your products without pushing the hard sell. Think. placement not takeover.
3. Revisit your influencer marketing strategy
Cuts to marketing budgets and a lack of faith in the power of influencers has led to knee-jerking among some brands, but leaving influencers out altogether isn’t wise.
Better attribution and accountability has enabled the influencer marketing space to stabilise, resulting in almost three-quarters of marketers upping their spend this year.
One of the key reasons for trusting influencer marketing is the authenticity, trust and cut through influencers provide at a time when brands are at their most competitive.
But don’t rule the creative. If recent learnings on TikTok and the engagement influencers afford have proven anything, it’s that creators should be left to create.
4. Create a seamless messaging experience
Many of the most recent social media features to break in 2020 have been messaging-focussed, and most of these concern brands as much as users.
Among the biggest has been Messenger’s merger with Instagram, which enables users on both platforms to message one another more easily.
Given that over 56% of global messaging app users will message a brand to find out more about a product or service in all stages of the consumer journey, it’s in your best interest to provide a seamless messaging experience.
With call centres and help desks closed, the onus is on brands to provide answers 24/7. But beyond customer service, use instant messaging to serve product recommendations and exclusive content using AI-powered bots.
5. Tap into the education and utility space
Not all branded content requires you to partner with creators and big name influencers. Likewise, don’t underestimate the power of ‘how to’ videos.
What I mean by this is the pandemic has created a world of first-time hobbyists who are looking for everything from gardening tips to baking ideas.
Think ahead and you can combine social activity with your SEO strategy to identify FAQs and provide content that’s educational and useful to shoppers.
With uncertainty high it’s likely consumers will be at their most discerning this year, so anything you can do to build trust and authority is recommended.
6. Identify AR creators to partner with
It would be hard to write a social commerce guide for 2020 without mentioning augmented reality, which is a perfect antidote to store closures.
WhAt’s more, Facebook has recently taken steps to make SparkAR more compatible with Messenger, meaning AR experiences can be shared in chats.
If you haven’t got the resources available to make AR versions of your product catalogue, there is a whole community of SparkAR creators that can help.
Identify these creators to give consumers the opportunity to try before they buy this winter by creating interactive filters that can be used on various apps.
Kunal Pattany is a public speaker, technology commentator and the founder and CEO of Digital Human. With 15 years’ experience in marketing for leading companies like Kantar, a WPP data and insights company, he has turned his attention to the impact of digital and AI on humans and society’s response to innovation. To find out more about Digital Human, click here. To talk with Kunal about speaking opportunities, email email@example.com 👋