insights | 14.02.2023

How social media impacts customer behaviour

Cat images on a mobile screen
Article topics
  1. Social commerce
  2. Brand building and product awareness
  3. Social proof
  4. Social as customer service

Social media has changed a lot since its creation at the start of the new millennium.

Initially just a place to chat with friends, share photos, and throw sheep at each other, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have evolved. People now use social media to converse with brands, share their experiences, and even buy from their favourite eCommerce stores.

However, some businesses aren’t taking advantage of the benefits social media can bring. 19% of large companies and 47% of SMEs admit to not using social media at all.

If you’re considering social media for your eCommerce store, this article will show you how social media impacts customer behaviour and how you can use this to your advantage.

1. Social commerce

Social commerce is now big business, with the global market expected to hit a staggering $1.3 trillion this year.

What is social commerce? It’s the process of selling products and services directly through social media. For example, let’s say you’re scrolling through Instagram or TikTok and see an item you like. Rather than clicking a link, visiting the relevant website and buying the product there, you can shop for it without leaving the platform.

Social commerce is older than you might think. Facebook first implemented a ‘buy’ button in 2014, and today, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok all offer social commerce functionality.

29% of all online purchases are made directly through social media, with most items bought by Gen Z and Millennials.

So, why do social media users like social commerce so much? It makes the buying process simple, fun, and friction-free. Customers can buy items they like in a few clicks and then get back to watching videos and connecting with their friends. Plus, social commerce is highly targeted. If people are already browsing your profile or searching for a specific keyword, they are likely in a significant position to buy.

It’s free to add your product catalogue to your social media platform of choice. For example, to get started in Instagram Shopping, all you need to do is add the products you want to sell and select a checkout method. If you use an eCommerce platform like Shopify, you can import your product catalogue directly, saving you time and meaning you can get started straight away.

Discover more about social commerce and why it’s the future of eCommerce

Searching through products advertised on Instagram
2. Brand building and product awareness

If you sell similar products or services to other eCommerce businesses, your brand can help you stand out. Social media is a powerful way of telling your brand’s story and ensuring your identity resonates with prospective shoppers.

Social media is one of the best ways of building brand awareness. Firstly, it’s free to use, so even the most budget-conscious businesses can take advantage. Secondly, with 84% of the UK population using at least one social media channel, it’s an easy way to reach a captive target audience. Finally, it’s fast-moving and easy to be responsive, meaning you can capitalise on news stories and trends.

If you’re looking for a brand that uses social media to make itself stand out, take Duolingo, a language learning tool. While there are several language learning apps available, Duolingo posts quirky videos on TikTok, featuring its big green owl mascot, Duo. This makes the brand memorable and ties in with its premise of making language learning fun.

Being authentic, consistent, and responsive is essential when it comes to building your brand through social media. Know your target audience, your brand voice and tone, and choose the right social media platform for your needs – you don’t need to be on all of them.

3. Social proof

It’s all very well and good telling your customers how amazing your products are. However, they’re more likely to be convinced by friends and family telling them the same thing!

Nearly a third of people say they use social media to find items to buy, with two-thirds saying they have been inspired to purchase after seeing social media images from other customers.

Social proof, either in the form of user reviews or user-generated content, builds trust and credibility. It’s the ‘bandwagon’ effect in action, where people are more likely to do something if they see others doing it too. And since social media is built on images and videos, it makes it the perfect place to show off the positive feedback you receive.

For an example of social proof in action, take Snag, a clothing and tights manufacturer. The company has a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, using photos of happy customers. Plus, as the customer photos are very inclusive, shoppers are happy that the products will look good on them.

Did you know you can integrate social media into your website? Some eCommerce platforms allow you to add social reviews and user-generated content to your store, meaning you can take advantage of social proof wherever your shoppers are browsing.

4. Social as customer service

Thirty years ago, if you had an issue with a product or service you bought, you didn’t have many options. You could spend hours on the phone trying to get through to a customer service rep, or wait for someone to reply to a strongly worded letter.

In 2023, all you need to do is send a message on social media.

Asking for help and support on social media is now the norm, with nearly half of people admitting to using social media to complain about a business. Why do people do this? It’s easy, it typically generates a speedy response, and it makes companies accountable – the complaint is out in the open for everyone to see.

As an eCommerce business, the last thing you might want to do is spend your time responding to issues and replying to questions that your website can answer. However, there are benefits to offering two-way engagement. Answering a customer query on social media can boost customer advocacy by up to 25%, meaning you can easily turn a negative interaction into a positive one.

You can even use ‘social listening’ on social media to track mentions of your brand and the products you sell. This means you can respond to questions and queries without people mentioning you directly.

Find out more about why eCommerce social media engagement is so important

Ready to take your social media platforms to the next level?

We hope this article has provided insight into how people use social media and the benefits this can bring to your business. On a final note, consumers that are influenced by social media typically have an average order value four times higher than those that aren’t.

At Xigen, we provide services that elevate your social media presence, leading to enhanced engagement, more leads, and, most importantly, increased revenue.

From impactful videos that make you stand out to stunning images that stop the scroll, we help you leave your mark on the social media platform of your choice.

Contact us today to get social media working for your eCommerce business.

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