The case for social commerce grows stronger every day: Social media usage is at an all-time high with no indication of slowing. In 2019, Brandwatch reported that people spend an average of 142 minutes a day on social media. With billions of active social media users across the globe, social media networks are only becoming more powerful, adding as many as 10 users every second and branching into social video and audio content like never before.
Massive market potential exists where consumers build their personal online presence— instead of following folks around with cookie-based advertising, brands can establish more meaningful relationships with their customers using their existing social circle. In other words, you must develop deeper individual connections rather than increasing ad impressions per person or competing on price alone (See Part 1: Social Commerce: Where Tech, Influencers, and Brand Loyalty Intersect). Those deeper connections build loyalty to increase customer long-term value and reduce the potential for future brand switching.
New Ways To Market
Platforms like Instagram and Facebook changed the way we communicate and consume. Some of the more popular features of late, like Stories and Reels on Instagram, offer previously unachievable authenticity via social media. When compared to traditional posts, these newer formats infuse more personality to the messages being shared.
Another fascinating case study in creativity is TikTok. There’s no denying that this platform’s popularity has sky-rocketed over the last year, and it seems it will only grow more popular in spite of recent (now resolved) regulatory concerns. This kind of social video app reaches unprecedented quantities of eyeballs with its proprietary algorithm, turning everyday content creators into mega influencers overnight. The age distribution on TikTok skews younger than most other social media platforms, but trends like TikTok Made Me Buy It illustrate the immense influence of individuals on the platform.
The future will bring even more importance to social selling as more and more brands use social selling methods to personalize the way they sell their products. Today’s market requires you to meet your customers where they are to engage them, otherwise you risk lower sales and the stagnation of your business.
Micro and Nano Influencers as Gig Workers
Of course, a social selling strategy requires buy-in from the folks who will connect with your end customers. That means compensation, but as we learned in part one of this series, compensation for folks with smaller following doesn’t have to be expensive: it can come in the form of free or discounted product.
Companies who leverage gig workers enjoy immense scalability while conserving the effort that typically surrounds managing full-time employees. This doesn’t mean ignoring other marketing efforts, it just shifts the strategy to reflect the shrinking digital world. In fact, DirecTech Labs suggests that companies must leverage technology to “increase the quality of the communication” and “make sure they are getting more personalized experiences to keep [gig workers] loyal.” Building better relationships with customers through their existing, real-life social network inspires lasting brand loyalty. Gig work is inherently flexible, providing meaningful opportunities for folks who might need additional income and who interact with customers that aren’t reached by your other market efforts. Indeed, micro and nano influencers combine the scalability enjoyed by companies like Uber and Lyft with brand evangelism based on niche interests.
Case study: Levi’s
Traditional influencer marketing is reaching its third, “mature,” phase according to Euromonitor International. Now that platforms for communication are established and macro influencers have successfully monetized their reach, new types of influencers (like micro and nano, which we mentioned above) are emerging along with new tactics for influence.
Savvy brands like Levi’s have already leveraged these evolving trends in social commerce. The iconic denim brand employed influencers as gig workers earlier this year on TikTok, where they documented the design of limited-release printed denim customized by fashion influencers like Gabby Morrison and Everett Williams. The campaign created a product that had ownership for the influencers- instead of an outdated and impersonal product promotion, Levi’s shifted the responsibility for enthusiasm to the creator of the denim designs. Videos featuring the bespoke designs included “Shop Now” calls-to-action that generated twice as many product views on Levis.com and doubled the average video view time on TikTok.
In the months since Levi’s successful partnership with TikTok, the video platform has launched a new partnership with Shopify, which signals the industry’s trend toward social commerce at scale. Shopify powers startup to enterprise businesses worldwide, and this new partnership opens the door for a massive new opportunity with gig workers, like Levi’s fashion influencers, who have a palpable passion for what they’re doing. (And Shopify’s growth won’t slow down anytime soon.)
Successful gig workers in social commerce are more than just good salespeople: they believe in what they are selling because, in many cases, it has changed their own life. Think about the busy mom who has clear skin for the first time in her life, the athlete making performance breakthroughs, or the chronic pain sufferer who has found relief, all because of a unique product. These folks are doing more than advertising– they’re truly benefitting from a product outside any compensation they might receive for the stories that they share.
Brands must leverage this flexible workforce addition to their advantage, but doing so successfully requires a deliberate approach. Social media platforms have become places where brands need to nurture trust if they aim at success, and using a trusted source of truth in a consumer’s existing circle of friends is the natural path to modern digital selling. Scalable technology that enables social selling, particularly for nano and micro influencers, is essential to success in the world of social commerce. But when deployed successfully, technology can provide the resources and training that gig workers need to be rewarded for their brand evangelism.
Read Part 2 for more on the different breeds of influencers and how to pick the right model for your brand.
About DirectScale, Inc.
Based in Orem, Utah, DirectScale has been setting the standard for direct, social and influencer selling industry software platforms since 2013. DirectScale’s powerful SaaS platform boasts fully configurable management tools that are vital to not only running, but also to efficiently tracking and growing an ecommerce business.
With its focus on providing an intuitive and impactful customer experience to corporate clients, influencers, affiliates and independent sellers, DirectScale has revolutionized the way these businesses can be launched and managed. To learn more or request a demo, visit directscale.com.