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Social Commerce: How to Sell on Social Media in 2019-20

Social Commerce: How to Sell on Social Media

15 min read

According to a recent survey, social media is the fave marketing channel for Ecwid merchants. Some use their social media pages for customer care, some build private groups for loyal customers — some just wanna share a juicy meme from time-to-time (ya know, if that’s what their audience is into).

But some merchants have gone the extra mile. Rather than just being on social media, they’re embracing the latest tools and selling on social media, turning their followers into paying customers right on their favorite platforms.

The zealous call it “social commerce”: you can just call it your new favorite way to sell. In this post, we’ll illustrate social media’s sales potential and offer an effective strategy to get the most out of your channels over the coming months.

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The Numbers Don’t Lie: People Love Social Media

First, a confession. To better understand social media’s popularity, I looked into how many hours per day I was spending on my favorite channels (you’ll see these stats below). Using iPhone’s screen time calculator, I was able to see how much time I spent scrolling the internet and what percentage of that was dedicated to social media. Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised.

social media statistics

Eleven hours a week on social media! At least I was having a good time?

Now, in all honesty, 11 hours isn’t all that much when compared to the average for an adult age 25-34, which rests at 2 hours and 37 minutes per day and 17.5 hours per week.

the use of social media

Daily time spent on social media, Digital Information World

Based on the graph above, it’s clear that social media isn’t just for kids anymore. Internet journeymen of all ages are now liking, commenting, and sharing on their favorite channels.

With over 3 billion users worldwide, social media reaches about 40% of the world’s population. Yep, you read that right. Literally billions of people are glued to social media.

And the owners of these social networking sites don’t plan on changing that any time soon, implementing new features every couple of months (like the cryptic Facebook algorithm) to keep users coming back for more.

Instagram alone has grown from a basic photo-sharing platform in it’s early days to a full-blown digital media juggernaut, complete with business tools (ads, analytics, and networking tools) and the support of various content formats (looped video, live stream, Stories, photos and photo galleries, IGTV, etc.).

So, what are users actually doing with all this time they’re spending on social media?

While the main function of social media is still connecting with people and entertainment, about 1 in 3 users are looking for new products to buy. In the next section, we’ll define social commerce, and discuss what makes shoppers move from social media users to social media shoppers.

Social Shopping: Why It’s So Great

If you’ve ever shopped online (which, who are we kidding, of course you have), you know the benefits of e-commerce well. A few clicks here, a tap or a swipe there, and next thing you know, your package is on your doorstep. It’s idyllic, to say the least.

But why has social shopping in particular become so popular? Why not leave the browsing and buying to sites like Amazon and eBay or directly from a brand’s website?

With how much time people spend on social media, it’s no surprise that they’d rather not be redirected to another website. Afterall, who’s spending 17.5 hours on Amazon each week? And with 67% of social media users accessing their accounts from mobile devices, being able to easily complete a purchase on the go is critical. Social e-commerce enables customers to shop right where they are without clicking off to another site or app, allowing them to move seamlessly between discovering and purchasing, right from their mobile devices.

What is social commerce? Social commerce is a form of e-commerce that involves the use of social media platforms to promote and sell products and services.

For businesses, social commerce has lots of benefits too. Rather than building a website and driving new traffic to it, you can list your products where your customers are already spending their time — whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or even Snapchat.

Social media audiences are substantial, to say the least — Facebook’s total user-base is roughly the size of four European Unions. So, selling on these platforms open doors to billions of potential customers. Look how many monthly active users are on some of the top social platforms:

  • Facebook — 2.9 billion
  • Instagram — 2 billion
  • Pinterest — 444 million
  • YouTube — 2.5 billion
  • Snapchat — 557 million
  • Twitter — 436 million.

Advertising on social media is like getting a billboard in Times Square at a fraction of the cost.

And social media works: young people discover more brands through social media than TV, newspapers, and blogs combined.

social shopping

Sources of brand discovery for Generation Z, Statista

While social media allows you to reach massive audiences, it’s also not just a random crowd on a town square. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and YouTube have built in e-commerce tools to help brands target the right people for social shopping. For example, Facebook tracks your customer data and allows you to serve ads to users who share similarities with your existing customers — like similar interests or geographic locations.

And once you find the right people, they can easily buy your products thanks to built in social commerce features like:

  • Facebook Shop and Product Catalog
  • Instagram shoppable posts
  • Buyable pins and more.

Despite the significant role of social media in our lives and an abundance of social commerce tools, only 40% of businesses are using social media to generate sales.

While that’s a pretty astounding statistic, it’s great news for you! By being early to the social commerce party, you’ll have an advantage over competitors who haven’t yet realized the power of selling on social. In the next chapter, you’ll learn how to enter social e-commerce on some of the most popular platforms.

Social Commerce: How to Sell on Social Media

Once upon a time, many social commerce features were locked away from small businesses. But today, limitations are the exception. Essential social shopping tools are available to businesses of all sizes, right from day one.

Ecwid E-commerce helps businesses of any size list and sell their products across multiple platforms at once from a single product catalog. Create your Ecwid account once to sell your products on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Snapchat (plus Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, WordPress, Wix… you get the idea). Keep reading to find out how you can tap into social shopping on some of the top platforms.

Thanks to its audience size and powerful business tools, Facebook wins the award for biggest social commerce platform:

How you can sell on Facebook:

  • Upload your product catalog to your FB business page
  • Show your products in a separate Shop tab
  • Tag your products in pictures you post on Facebook
  • Advertise your products to highly targeted audiences (e.g. store visitors or people similar to your customers)

Facebook shop

All that functionality is offered through three main Facebook business products: Facebook Shop (to let customers buy your products from the Shop section on FB), Facebook Product Catalog (to build effortless ad campaigns that display your products with titles, prices, and pictures), and the Facebook Pixel (to let you build custom audiences for advertising.)

Learn more in our blog post: Blow Up Your Sales With Ecwid’s New Social Selling Tools on Facebook


The most popular visual photo-sharing platform is a perfect spot for showcasing products. But it’s not just a gallery of your favorite product pics. Instagram Shoppable posts allow followers to purchase tagged products within the app in just a couple taps.

Also read: Trending Products to Sell on Instagram

Here are a few facts about Instagram social shopping:

  • Instagram Shoppable posts are available in 45+ countries.
  • For Ecwid store CakeSafe (33,000 Instagram followers), shoppable links are clicked an average of 40 times per post.
  • Instagram is testing Shoppable posts in Creator accounts, which could offer an opportunity to sell products through more than 500,000 active Instagram influencers.

Instagram shoppable posts

To use Instagram’s social commerce features, you’ll need to switch to a Business account. Once that’s done, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Tag your products in photos
  • Tag products in your Stories
  • Get your shoppable posts to the Explore section to expand your reach
  • Receive a special tab for your tagged products (if you’ve tagged more than nine)
  • Boost posts (with the exception of shoppable posts)
  • Tag products on influencers’ posts (beta)
  • Let your customers make purchases right from their Instagram app.

Learn how to get started with Instagram social commerce: Sell on Instagram: How Ecwid Merchants Can Reach 1 Billion Shoppers


If you sell home decor, beauty products, food, drinks, or e-goods, Pinterest could hold huge social shopping potential for your business. While Pinterest traditionally appeals to women, 50% of new signups in 2018 were actually men, signaling a shift in the platform.

What we know about social shopping on Pinterest:

Pinterest ad format

How you can sell on Pinterest:

  • Serve Pinterest ads to your store visitors
  • Build and advertise to audiences who are similar to your customers
  • Sync your product catalog to display the actual prices and descriptions of your products (Rich Pins)
  • Set up Buyable Pins to let customers purchase from Pinterest.

Learn more about this platform with our in-depth look at Pinterest advertising: Run More Effective Ads With Pinterest Tag for Your Ecwid Store


While there’s no official e-commerce functionality that allows users to complete purchases in the app (yet), Snapchat is widely embraced by brands of all sizes. Snapchat is especially popular amongst the younger crowd, so if that’s your target audience, its advertising tools are definitely worth a closer look.

  • Snapchat’s advertising audience had jumped an astounding 19% in July 2019.
  • Snapchat ads now reach 369 million users on the platform.
  • Only 36% of marketers currently use Snapchat, so there’s less competition for top spots compared to rivals Instagram and Facebook.

Snapchat Phone Social Media Icon Smartphone

On Snapchat, you can:

  • Advertise your products
  • Collect data about who’s buying from your ads
  • Reach more Snapchat users like your existing customers.

For a detailed review of social commerce on Snapchat, jump over to our guide: Sell on Snapchat with the Snapchat Pixel for Ecwid

Social Commerce: A Strong Trend

The future of retail is in selling where your customers are, and businesses that engage across channels (web, mobile, social media, in-store, etc.) retain more than twice as many customers as those without effective cross-channel strategies.

And social shopping is at the top of that cross-channel list. With business and social commerce tools, buying products in-app from any device is fast and convenient.

There’s no doubt, social media has integrated with our daily lives. And now, with Ecwid E-commerce, your store can be just as integrated with the most popular social platforms. As you’re thinking through your marketing and sales strategies for the upcoming year, consider testing one-to-two social channels. It might be just the thing you need to take your business to a whole new level.

Not selling online just yet? Join our e-commerce crew by creating a free Ecwid account, and sell anywhere, from web to social media to marketplaces. And don’t forget to subscribe to the Ecwid blog to learn more about social commerce and other e-commerce and marketing trends.


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About the author

Kristen is a сontent creator at Ecwid. She finds inspiration in sci-fi books, jazz music, and home-cooked food.

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