Especially today, social media platforms are more than an entertaining way to pass time and to connect with family and friends.
Each social app or website launch has creative entrepreneurs searching for the best opportunities to monetize sites that have been so engaging.
Since the start of social media, sites like Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms have created features specifically designed to help small business owners like you use the sites to build your brand and sales.
The following guide will identify all of the e-commerce features available on the most popular social media sites, giving you a foundation for better marketing your brand on each one.
Although new features are added to these platforms on a regular basis, some e-commerce features are already bringing significant results to brands like yours, increasing both awareness and customer base.
Facebook: Shoppable Collection Ads & Marketplace Ads
If you have your Page template set to the Shopping option, you may already be taking advantage of one of Facebook's core e-commerce features, adding a Shop to your Facebook page.
This convenient way for customers to purchase products without leaving Facebook is just one of the social network's features for e-commerce brands.
Facebook's Shoppable Collection ads take interested visitors to a Facebook-hosted catalog of up to 50 items based on what that individual is most likely to purchase.
Clicking on an item takes the customer to the product page on your website or mobile app. Depending on your preference, you can pay for Collection Ads based on traffic (each time the initial ad is clicked) or conversions (targets those likely to click but charges based on the number of times displayed).
A few months ago, Facebook officially announced Marketplace Ads, which allow sellers to show Marketplace listings to a larger audience in their local area – making it a great tool if you focus on nearby customers.
For best results, Facebook recommends using your Page to promote your products, making them eligible to show in follower newsfeeds. Timely responses are also key to success with Facebook e-commerce.
Instagram: Shoppable Stories & Shopping Channel
Instagram is now expanding its retail functionality, which began with product tags in Instagram posts, through Instagram Stories. This full-screen highlight prioritizes video, making it the perfect opportunity to showcase your best products.
Stories with "product stickers" become Shoppable Stories that give new dimensions to Instagram advertising – while making it easy to access product information and ultimately make a purchase.
Instagram also recently released the Shopping Channel on Explore to all users after a limited test run this past summer.
Brands can add the shopping bag icon to their Instagram Stories, making the purchasable items available to display in this Explore feed. Each users Shopping channel will be customized to their preferences and Instagram information.
The fast-paced nature of Instagram makes it especially ideal for attracting consumer interest in limited edition products and offers, as well as launches and pre-sales.
Because Instagram is visual, it's important that Instagram Stories fit the overall aesthetic of your brand on the site, even if their purpose is more focused on making a sale.
Making e-commerce content a natural part of your businesses' Instagram narrative will ensure that your audience stays engaged.
Snapchat: Shoppable AR Lenses
With its vertical video design and disappearing content, Snapchat has been one of the more elusive sites for advertisers.
Newly-released ad products like the "Shop now" button have made it easier for creators and businesses like yours to monetize the one-of-a-kind social site while staying true to Snapchat's quirky style. This was followed up by sticker packs and Storytellers, an ad campaign program made for publishers.
Even more recently, Snapchat has been experimenting with a more engaging advertising product, Shoppable AR Lenses.
Combining buying features with Snapchat's most popular feature – its AR Lenses – the social app will let users shop while they play with different views. The feature is not yet widely available but appears to function like the standard AR lenses (which cost $10-14 per 1,000 plays), and the "shop now" button can be added to any Lens you create.
Twitter: Twitter Video Ads
Twitter is mainly used for sharing information and updates in real-time, but that doesn't mean it's without features that can be effective for your e-commerce brand.
Twitter Video Ads are one of those opportunities – and with 10x more engagement over standard ads, it's a social media advertising format your business should definitely consider.
Twitter provides several recommendations for effective video advertising on the platform, including focusing on organic content rather than the sale, keeping the copy accompanying your video ad short, and experimenting to find the video length that works best for your specific audience.
Pinterest: Buyable Pins
Pinterest's core e-commerce feature is another option that allows your customers to purchase products without leaving the social media platform.
With Pinterest mainly used as a source of inspiration and discovery, its Buyable Pins are a seamless way to get your products in front of the right customers. They look just like regular pins but have added features for a seamless purchase experience – and promoting these pins will put them in front of a wider audience.
All of these e-commerce features represent prime opportunities for your brand to promote your products on the social sites that your customers use all the time.
Following the best practices – particularly designing promotional content to fit the feel of each site and focusing on engagement rather than pure sales – will help you to make the most of the e-commerce tools on these social networks.