Sixty percent of the time that people spend on social media is now facilitated by a mobile device. Social sites are dominating mobile, but they're good for more than just catching up with friends.
Many retailers are now engaging with customers and using social sites to showcase their products. With new ways to advertise and more call to action options now available, social media's going commercial in a big way. Here's some notes on how each of the major platforms are approaching social ecommerce.
Millions of brands are already active on Facebook, and now it's easier for smaller, more local businesses to make the most of their advertising budgets by targeting the most qualified users. Like Twitter, Facebook has also added more features to make in-app purchases easier.
Facebook's Canvas is a new shopping experience that works similarly to its Instant Articles. Instead of being taken out of the app to the company's site (which may not be optimized for mobile), when a user clicks on the call to action within a Canvas ad they're taken to a fast-loading microsite that's still within Facebook's app.
More Calls to Action
Now, Facebook has Lead Ads and Local Awareness Ads. Users can choose to call, get directions, learn more, or send a message, all by simply selecting the call to action at the bottom of the advertisement.
These two advertising options allow for brands to take advantage of the user data collected to show more targeted ads by sorting out the most qualified users, and also to people who are geographically close to their business.
Similar to Twitter, Facebook has also added a buy or shop now call to action option for the ads that are seen in users' News Feeds - the difference on Facebook is that companies can also add these buttons to their organic posts.
To do this, you simply need to be the admin for a group, open Facebook's Power Editor, and create a post with a call to action relevant to the content.
Payments Through Messenger
Facebook's Messenger app now offers "Peer-to-Peer" payments. If you're one who rarely carries cash, you can now use Messenger to send a payment directly to another user without having to write a check or count exact change.
Thirty seven percent of Twitter users will buy from a brand they also follow. Now Twitter's making it even easier to buy without ever leaving the app.
"Buy Now" Button
Promoted tweets and ads can now include a "Buy Now" button. When selected, it opens a page that allows the user to make a purchase without having to leave the app and find the product on the retailer's website.
You do have to wait for shoppable tweets to appear, though - there's currently no way to search for them.
More Interactive Ads
Twitter's also introduced additional call to action buttons that include "Call Now," "Read More," "Install," or "Learn More." Brands can also post polls and tweetable ads to encourage follower engagement.
The average price of a purchase made through Pinterest is $50 - the highest of any social platform. Since a pinned image gets an average of 11 repins, that can lead to a huge audience seeing a product. As a result, Pinterest has introduced new ways users can buy what they see.
Certain pins now feature the new "Buy It" button right next to the traditional "Pin It" button. The new option allows for easier check out and doubles the conversion rate of regular pins.
Tapping on the "Buy It" button takes you to a secure checkout within the app. You can also search for and browse only buyable pins, a feature the other socials sites still lack.
As an added bonus, you can also save the buyable pins to a board, and if the price drops, you'll receive an alert.
Probably the most unique new feature in the app, the visual search allows you to select an item in an image and then search Pinterest for visually similar items you can then buy.
Marketers have been looking for ways to advertise on Instagram since its launch, and consumers have grown frustrated with the ban of links in image captions, leaving them unable to buy what they see. Finally, Instagram is making shopping easier.
"Shop Now" Button
Previously, if users wanted to browse shoppable Instagram images, they had to use an outside site. Now Instagram has introduced new call to action buttons that allow users to not only shop straight from an ad, but also 'install', 'sign up', or 'learn more'.
Improved Ad Targeting
Since Facebook owns Instagram, advertisers can use Facebook's ad interface to develop Instagram campaigns.
The connection also allows Instagram advertisers to glean information on users' demographics and interests from Facebook for more targeted advertising.
Shopping on Social Is Growing
Although a lot of the features to shop on social media are still fairly new, buy buttons are predicted to be one of the dominant trends in social media in 2016.
Along with the four sites mentioned, YouTube has also started adding click to shop ads to its videos, and Google has introduced Google Purchases, which involves a buy button added directly to shopping search results.
Ultimately, the goal is to lessen online cart abandonment by making mobile shopping flow more smoothly from start to finish.