There is increasing awareness among business owners regarding the significance of marketing through social media platforms. Using Instagram as a marketing medium effectively requires dedication, time and other resources. It is necessary for business owners to broaden their focus and strategize when they are marketing to young people by placing their businesses on Instagram.
As social media and ecommerce become increasingly enmeshed in our lives, the opportunities for them to interact with and bolster each other are innumerable, considering that the average person spends around an hour and 40 minutes browsing social media every day.
Back in the old days, a business’s presence would be signified by advertisements in the paper and a physical storefront. Now, in the digital age, business reputations live and die by their social media standing. Right now, social media is used by brands as a way to advertise, increase their online presence, and deliver high-quality customer service. In 2018, we can expect those trends to continue, as some new ones emerge. Let’s take a look at the growing role of social media in ecommerce.
With the almost absurd level of customization you can put on a Facebook ad (age, geography, preferences and more) and the detail with which Facebook can report your results, it’s a no-brainer for brands to keep using Facebook and other social media advertising. It’s also a win for Facebook, which raked in more than $7 billion in advertising in 2017.
The most successful brands in 2018 will be those able to maximize their reach and effectiveness on paid social media advertising. William Harris, an ecommerce growth consultant for elumynt.com, says, “I see ecommerce brands investing a lot more in paid social, and I think that trend will continue into 2018…it’s not enough to simply pay for ads on Google Shopping. You’ve got to find a good audience on Facebook ads, Instagram ads and more and more, on Pinterest and other paid social media accounts. It’s getting easier to set these up and track the return on advertising, which means more brands will start doing it.”
Over the past few years, analysts have noticed an interesting, unexpected trend. While the use of public social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter is starting to decline, private messaging services are exploding in popularity. WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are all app juggernauts with colossal engagement numbers running into the billions.
Where the people go, the businesses must follow, and brands are edging their way into private messaging through chatbots. Chatbots, AI personalities that can simulate real conversations, can answer questions on products, offer recommendations, and resolve customer complaints.
Consumers are slowly warming to the idea. According to Venturebeat.com, 49.4 percent of customers would rather contact a business through a 24/7 messaging service than through the phone. Brands would be prescient to start looking into catboat services as a supplementary channel to reach customers.
Additionally, many private messaging services now offer financial integration. Opening up WeChat, chatting with a brand AI representative, and purchasing a product without closing the app once, is entirely within the realm of possibility in 2018.
However, due to the rapid growth of artificial intelligence, chatbots are expected to be getting more and more sophisticated over time. In particular, they can successfully replace live chat operators or offload a significant amount of the work from them. Chatbots turned out to perfectly fit in e-commerce as customer support option.
Chatbots are beneficial for e-commerce businesses in many ways, and can be used to do the following:
- improve shopping experience by reducing wait time (chatbots can provide instant answers to many of the common questions customers may have when examining products);
- retain and re-engage customers by sending messages;
- provide 24/7 support;
- avert shopping carts from abandonment by reminding visitors about the unfinished orders and providing answers to common questions;
- reduce expenses by reducing the number of chat operators or even eliminating the need for them.
Though, to work for online stores and be able to run functions outlined above, сhatbots need to be integrated with shopping carts.
Shopping Cart Integration for Chatbots
Brands build their stores on shopping carts, and that is where all the information from the online shops is stored. Once a chatbot system is integrated with one of the shopping carts, it can work with all of the stores based on that platform. The more shopping carts the chatbot application supports, the more potential clients it has.
Also, such systems need shopping cart integration to retrieve product details, quantities, shipping terms and other information that chatbots may use to provide visitors with accurate answers.
Shopping Cart Integration as It Is
Integration with shopping carts is absolutely necessary for chatbot systems to get its market share in the e-commerce industry, which is very powerful today. However, along with the profits, the integrations process brings many challenges to overcome. Shopping cart integration is among the biggest pain points for enterprises, due to the high technological complexity. Setting up a real-time data exchange and synchronization between two different systems involves tons of tech work, and so does their maintenance. That is why many companies choose to entrust shopping cart integration to professionals. Thus, they save time, money, efforts and get more qualitative and secure connection with shopping carts.
API2Cart is a proven solution for an easy, fast and secure shopping cart integration. It provides a unified API to connect with over 30 shopping carts at once. The API2Cart API helps chatbots and other B2B e-commerce software vendors to avoid practically all integrational difficulties. API2Cart has a detailed documentation that makes API utilizing easy and a tech-savvy 24/7 support team, which is always ready to help with any matters.
The harder it is to buy or access something, the less likely we are to follow through. This explains why ecommerce sites that take a long time to load have higher bounce rates, and online stores with clunky interfaces sell less. One can already buy products through Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Once Apple Pay experiences widespread adoption, it’s almost scary to think about how easy impulse buys will be — if you see something you like on social media, one swipe will get it delivered to your door. Brands should immediately start evaluating how they can sell their products through social networks, coupling a strong advertising presence with an easy purchasing process.
In our days Instagram is the most popular social network in the world. Thus, all ecommerce trends appear here. Just one year ago some business owners could say “But you can’t put links in your Instagram posts. How are you supposed to drive any sales at all?” It’s true. Instagram is pretty locked down when it comes to what you can and can’t do on their platform.
But change is coming… Well, actually, it’s kinda already here. A few recent, strategic updates could result in a tumultuous shift for the platform. These new features, along with Instagram’s existing design, could mold the platform into the strongest selling tool for ecommerce we have seen since over two decades. Period. Here’s why…
1. The Shop Now Button
In early November 2016, Instagram announced it would be adding a Shop Now button (article here), where brands can link checkout carts to their products displayed in posts.
2. Instagram Stories
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Selling stuff takes time. It takes explanation. It takes contemplation. Why do you think infomercials are so damn long? Because it takes hard work for a consumer to gain trust in you as the seller.
Yet, the most important factor in selling is context, that’s why “content is king, but context is God”. When it comes to social media however, context is exactly what is missing. Previously, YouTube, Snapchat, and blogs were some of the only mediums that enabled users to nurture an intimate, authentic relationship with their audience. That changed when Instagram Stories hit the market. Now, Instagram has the potential to hold the same power, the same authenticity and intimacy Snapchat gives users. Thus with the addition of Stories, Instagrammers now are able to connect with audiences on a much deeper level in a Snapchat-esque fashion.
3. Links within Instagram Stories
Not only will Instagrammers be able to create Snapchat-like intimacy with their followers, they’ll also be able to promote and share content via a recent update to Stories: link sharing.
While this may not seem like a huge deal, it comes from a company that has lasted 6 years with only allowing one link per user at a time, so the update marks a shift from it’s original design to one eager to monetize. An Instagram product manager, said the company added links in Stories in response to the large number of brands using the feature to promote content there. Now, imagine if you are an entrepreneur promoting your newest product on Instagram. Using Stories, you would be able to showcase your product, explain the reasons to buy it, then link up the checkout page so your users can purchase it right then and there. Essentially, you’ll be able to host your own mini-webinar using only your smartphone.
In addition to all of the other new features, Instagram has also announced Stories will now be displayed on Explore.
The success of Google and proliferation of SEO proved how much brands will shovel money into increasing the likelihood of being “discovered” by consumers. On Instagram, if all goes according to plan, brands will eventually invest in securing high spots on the Explore tab. In this sense, brands with similar products and services will now be able to capitalize on audience’s similar interests, making Instagram an even more enticing platform to throw money at than ever before.
While the other points made in this article are either features or implications of those features, this point is more high-level. More than likely though, it is the most important aspect of Instagram when it comes to molding it into the most powerful eCommerce tool we have seen in a decade: concision.
Instagram is completely visual. It is free of clutter. With only 87 characters before the Read More option appears in the caption, it is also free of over-explaining. Thus, it is up to the user to interpret the highly-visual content for themselves. Instagram is a platform completely focused on mobile. On your smartphone, you can’t have 20 tabs open at once. On your smartphone, you can’t split-screen with two monitors. On your smartphone, it is just you alone with a single screen. It’s a much less distracting, almost intimate experience when compared to desktop.
Based on these factors, Instagram has forced creators to do what they do best: be creative. It has forced them to be succinct and tell stories through pictures, not words.
This year, social media will not only play a big part in ecommerce, but also in all aspects of our social life, just as it has been, arguably, for the last several years. Moreover, several new social network technologies, including powerful advertising tools, chatbots and in-app purchasing, as well as improved design, will make ecommerce easier, and bigger, than ever. So, does it also seems to you that If Instagram continues on this trajectory, it will have the opportunity to become the biggest selling tool we have seen in the last 20 years. And what other tools you would add in this article? Will be happy to read your comments.
Business Development Manager