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Social Shopping: How to Sell Products Directly on Social Media

Learn what social shopping is and why you should make it a cornerstone of your ecommerce strategy in 2023 and beyond.

Colleen Christison October 6, 2022
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Social shopping has been growing steadily since 2019. People want easy, accessible, and convenient shopping experiences on their mobile devices. They want to shop within the moment of discovery. Basically, they want to shop on social media.

But, have you ever asked yourself, what is social shopping? Why do I need it, and how do I do it?

In this article, you’ll learn what social shopping is and why you should make it a cornerstone of your ecommerce strategy. We’ll walk you through how your social shop works on different platforms and some tips to get you raking in sales.

Bonus: Find out what people really want from brands on social—including why they follow, engage, buy, and even unfollow them—in The Social Media Consumer Report.

What is social shopping?

Social shopping refers to the selling and buying of products directly on social media. With social shopping, complete transactions take place without leaving the social network app.

Why use social shopping?

There’s no doubt that the demand for easy and instant online shopping is growing. And, with that demand comes potential.

Statista reports that worldwide social commerce generated roughly 724 billion USD in revenue in 2022. They go on to say the expected annual growth is 30.8% from 2022 to 2030, so “revenues in this segment are forecast to reach approximately 6.2 trillion dollars in the latter year.”

Most companies have grabbed a piece of this pie. They’ve taken advantage of consumers’ willingness to buy online by growing their ecommerce offerings.

A 2021 survey saw 29% of global respondents who purchased something they saw on a social media platform from the platform itself. That’s a lot of potential sales you’re missing out on if you’re not engaging customers and using social media in your ecommerce strategy.

How does social shopping work on different networks?

Now, your social shops show up a little differently depending on the platform you’re using. Here’s what you need to know about the big four: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok.

Instagram Shopping

Instagram Shopping is an ecommerce feature on Instagram’s platform that lets people social shop. It allows people to discover and purchase products through photo and video posts.

How it works:

Setting up your Instagram shop is pretty easy. Once your storefront is live, and your product catalog is uploaded, you can add product tags to photos and videos.

Article Turoy Ivory chair shop

Source: Article

You can also engage with influencers and utilize user-generated content to promote your products for you. By allowing other people to tag your products, you can increase your reach and influence purchasing decisions.

True social shopping is only available to eligible US business and creator accounts. Right now, Instagram only allows certain accounts in the US to add in-app checkout features to their Instagram shops. Instagram Shops, however, is available across the globe, specifically for businesses in these markets.

Shopping features:

Instagram Shop has a ton of great ecommerce features for your digital store, like:

  • Shops: Your customizable storefront allows people to shop on your profile.
  • Shopping tags: These tags feature products from your catalog. They let customers purchase directly from your website or on Instagram (if you’re eligible).
  • Shop in Explore: People can now browse posts with Shopping tags in the Explore section.
  • Collections: You can curate products into collections to help your customers find what they’re looking for.
  • Product detail page: This page tells the consumer what they need to know about the product, like pricing or descriptions. Instagram pulls these details from your product catalog, so make sure you fill that out properly.
  • Ads with product tags: You can now create ads from your shoppable posts!

For businesses that are eligible to use Checkout, you also have access to:

  • Product launches: Announce your pending product launch on Instagram to build hype! Here, people can preview details about the launch and create purchase reminders.
  • Shopping partner permissions: You can give your Instagram partners permission to tag your products or link to your shop. This can help you to increase your reach.

Facebook Shopping

Facebook Shopping is an ecommerce feature on Facebook’s platform. It allows creators and businesses to engage in social shopping. It’s a lot like Instagram Shopping, which is no surprise since Meta owns both platforms.

How it works:

So long as you have a Facebook Page you want to sell from and a business account, you’re golden. Setting up your Facebook shop is simple. From there, you can update your product catalog and customize your Facebook shop.

Wairco Snap case for Apple AirTag

Source: Wairco

To use Facebook Shops, you need to comply with Facebook’s commerce eligibility requirements and be in a supported market. Luckily, these can be all over the globe; here’s a full list of Facebook-supported markets.

To make the most of your Facebook Shopping experience, you’ll want to look into how your Facebook Commerce Manager account can work for you.

Shopping features:

  • Collections: You can customize your product collections to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for.
  • Advertising: Add a Custom Audience to your ad campaigns to reach people who are already interested in your shop.
  • Insights: Commerce Manager will show you insight into your Facebook Shop’s performance. With it, you can better optimize your eCommerce offering.
  • Exposure: Your products may appear in popular shopping centers on Facebook like Marketplace.
  • Direct Messages across platforms: Shops can access Messenger, Instagram Direct, and soon WhatsApp. This way, your customers can access you in many different places.

Pinterest Shopping

Pinterest is the OG powerhouse of online shopping. It’s a visually-dominated, product-first platform. And, Pinterest’s organizational style and strong algorithm keep serving its fans. They report 80% more in sales per month compared to other social platforms.

Truly, Pinterest has some impressive stats. As an online seller, you don’t want to sleep on this app.

How it works:

You’ll want to set up your Pinterest shopping account by joining the verified Merchant Program. From there, it’s a matter of uploading your products, setting up your Product Pins, and customizing your shop.

Pinterest shopping is available in many countries; see the full list here.

One thing to note, Pinterest’s social shopping is not available to most merchants and buyers. There are certain eligible US-based merchants that can check out in the Pinterest app. US buyers can find the Buy Button below a Pin (it’s blue!) if they’re eligible. For the most part, however, Pinterest will send you to the merchant’s ecommerce site to complete the purchase.

Pinterest Pinch long sleeved striped shirt

Source: Pinterest

Shopping features:

  • Product Pins: These pins stand out from regular, unshoppable pins because they have a price listed in the corner. They show off your product details, including a special title and description, price, and stock availability.
  • Shoppable Lens: This feature is a bit like Googling images. You take a photo of a physical product, then Pinterest shows you similar products.
  • Shopping List: When people save products to their boards, they are automatically added to that person’s Shopping List.
  • Shop in Search: Some eligible regions allow users to search in a Shop-specific category. Your shoppable products will automatically show up here.
  • Shop Spotlights: Spotlights can feature your product prominently, getting it in front of more viewers. Spotlights are chosen by fashion bloggers, writers, and editors, so keep optimizing your product page and hope for the best.
  • Shoppable ads: You can make shoppable ads and ads that feature an entire collection of your products.

TikTok Shopping

A TikTok Shop is an ecommerce feature integrated into TikTok’s platform. This feature makes selling products on TikTok possible. And, with 24 billion views and counting, the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt alone makes for a pretty good argument to get sellin’ on the app.

How it works:

You can set up your own TikTok shop if you meet the app’s requirements. Once that’s done, it’s as easy as optimizing your product catalog and promoting your products.

TikTok shopping features:

  • Shopify integrated advertising: If you’re a Shopify merchant, you can run shoppable ads on TikTok all from your Shopify Dashboard
  • Video ads: You can create shoppable video ads that appear on users’ For You Page
  • TikTok Shopping API (coming soon!)
  • Third-party partner integration like Shopify, Square, Ecwid, and PrestaShop
  • You can include your product links on videos

8 quick tips for selling products with social shopping

Now that you’re a social shopping pro, it’s time to create or refresh and refine your social shopping strategy. Here are eight quick tips for selling your products!

Image is everything

Use high-quality images. People are visually oriented, so make sure your product photos are clear and attractive. Be sure to use bright, well-lit images that showcase your products in the best possible light.

Answer ‘what is this and why do I want it?’ in your product description

Use engaging descriptions. In addition to listing the facts about your product, use language that will capture people’s attention and make them want to learn more. Clear and concise product descriptions with benefits over features should do the trick.

Don’t try to pack too much information into each description. Instead, focus on making it easy for potential customers to know what your product is and why they need it.

Discounts and deals

Offer discounts and deals. Deals and discounts were a top motivation for online shoppers in 2021. 37% of people said discounts and deals were their deciding factors. Be sure to promote your deal on your page!

Make it easy to buy

Social shopping has a huge advantage with ease of use because users don’t have to leave the app to convert. Include links to your product pages on your posts and make sure buying is as streamlined as possible. You’ll want to test out your user journey yourself to see if there are any pain points your users may have.

Have competitive pricing

Make sure your pricing is in-line with the industry standards. Take a look at prices on similar social shopping sellers’ pages. Then, price your products accordingly.

Promote, promote, promote!

Stay active on social media. The more you post about your products, the more likely people are to see them and make a purchase. Keep your social media pages updated regularly for the best results.

If a customer posts a great review of your product or store, don’t miss reposting that social proof. You can schedule posts in advance with Hootsuite, making this step a breeze.

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Use social media marketing tools for a leg up

Take advantage of social media marketing tools to reach a wider audience. Utilize hashtags, post updates regularly, and run promotional campaigns on social channels like Instagram and Facebook. Your analytics tools (try Hootsuite’s!) will help you to understand what’s working and what’s not.

Use a social media chatbot

Provide excellent customer service. Respond quickly to questions and concerns, and do everything you can to ensure that your customers are happy during the buying process. One life-saving hack for impeccable customer service? Get a social media chatbot like Heyday.

Heyday is a conversational ai chatbot, that can automatically answer all your customer’s FAQs and queries, saving your team time and money.

Heyday order tracking support conversational AI

Source: Heyday

Engage with shoppers on social media and turn customer conversations into sales with Heyday, our dedicated conversational AI chatbot for social commerce retailers. Deliver 5-star customer experiences — at scale.

Get a free Heyday Demo

Turn customer service conversations into sales with Heyday. Improve response times and sell more products. See it in action.

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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