The Role Of Influencers Within Social Commerce

By Sarah Penny, Content & Research Director at Influencer Intelligence

Influencers have played an evolving role in brands’ marketing strategies, facilitating discovery, growing brand awareness, creating content and becoming advocates. Now, the emergence of social commerce is setting the scene for a new dawn of influencer marketing; an opportunity forecast by Accenture to triple by 2025 to reach $1.2 trillion.

Influencer Intelligence interviewed over 150 global marketers for its latest whitepaper, exploring the role of influencers in social commerce. It found that 62% of survey respondents “agree” that social commerce will be the most popular objective for influencer marketing campaigns within the next year. In fact, the experts interviewed agreed that influencers have the potential to become the most important medium in social commerce.

The #tiktokmademebuyit meme has clocked up 14.1bn views and Influencer Intelligence reports that about half of all social media users in the US aged 18-34 have made at least one purchase via social media.

The potential for innovation in technology to reshape social commerce is exciting and could reinvent the world of influencer marketing as we know it. Those brands that experiment now, will reap the rewards by getting ahead of the curve and benefitting from established audiences and favourable algorithms.

The current state of social commerce

Social commerce can be defined as the convergence of social media and ecommerce, allowing users to browse and make purchases in-app or via third party, in the moment.  This presents a huge opportunity for brands to convert sales influenced by social media. Dwell time is reduced and there are fewer clicks to make purchases, allowing for quick-decision purchases.

Influencer content has already proven impactful at driving sales and this new, shorter purchasing journey could boost the effectiveness of sales-led campaigns. Influencers can now tag products directly, creating more chances for brands to target consumers who are engaging with their content with a direct link to buy. Essentially, this is how social commerce has come to exist, with consumers no longer needing to create a separate purchase journey to seek products they are finding on social or disrupt their engagement with content, to shop.

Add to that the ability to better track ROI via social commerce, marketers can strengthen the proposition of influencer marketing as part of the marketing mix by demonstrating its huge value to brands.

With the development of better platform shopping functionality, influencers could play a bigger role in brands’ ecommerce strategies. Paired with social media being the place consumers are spending significant chunks of time, they have the potential to become the most important form of social commerce.

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How and where are marketers spending their budgets?

Marketers are increasingly integrating social commerce objectives into their influencer campaigns, with more than a third (36%) of respondents in our survey saying they have been including the sale of products or services as a measurable objective for the past two to four years.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of the marketers we surveyed told us they are spending 20-30 per cent of their influencer marketing budget on social commerce and a further 23 per cent are allocating 30-50 per cent of their budget.

This suggests that despite social commerce being nascent in the influencer marketing industry, it’s receiving a healthy share of marketers’ budgets to experiment.

As social commerce emerges, it is interesting to see the techniques that marketers are adopting as they strive for success.

What does the future of social commerce look like?

A lively conversation within the industry is which platform will win the social commerce race.

Arguably, Instagram currently takes the lead. More than two-thirds of marketers (68 per cent) in our report cited Instagram as the most successful platform for social commerce campaigns, followed by TikTok (40 per cent) and Facebook (35 per cent), which trail behind by comparison.

When it comes to choosing influencers to work with it’s, perhaps surprisingly, the micro-influencers that 43 per cent of the experts we spoke with are having the greatest success with in their social commerce strategies. However, top-tier influencers (38 per cent), celebrities (33 per cent) and middle-tier influencers (30 per cent) are found to be driving success, too.

In terms of social commerce tactics, almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of respondents said they plan to include videos with shoppable links in their strategies. Shoppable live streaming is also firmly on the agenda, with 51 per cent saying they “agree” this will become ‘must-do’ practice for all brands within the next year.

However, technological innovation is also noticeably changing the game, with Augmented Reality becoming a growing trend. A third (36 per cent) of the experts in our report predict influencer marketing campaigns using Augmented Reality (AR) will dominate social commerce strategies by 2024, and (30 per cent) believe AI powered conversation and personalisation within influencer marketing campaigns will also be a leading trend.

Whilst marketers are adapting and experimenting with their influencer marketing strategies, Influencer Intelligence’s whitepaper highlights the traction social commerce will only continue to gain.  With the seamless shopping experience, making a purchase has never been easier. It is no surprise that marketers are planning on spending more of their budget on social commerce, after seeing the success it has already gained and the exciting future it could hold.

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