Social Media Shopping: Why it works and is on the rise

December 16th, 2021 | Mili Patel

As Christmas quickly approaches, many shoppers are searching for last minute gifts – some in person, some online while others turn to their favorite social media influencer.

Social shopping is on the rise

According to Statista, nearly “80 million U.S. consumers purchased a product or service directly within a social media post in 2020, a 30% increase over 2019.” That number is projected to reach over 100 million by 2023.

Social media platforms are integrating new ways to facilitate shopping for brands, influencers, and their intended target audiences. Social platforms have spent the last few years introducing more purchasing features to finally bring social commerce to life. Their efforts have been paying off. Users are striving for an easy and hassle-free e-commerce experience when browsing on social media. Due to this, brands should maintain an active presence on social media to encourage and facilitate the transactional relationships users are seeking.

Future and emerging trends

Social media platforms are increasingly integrating formats and elements that support e-commerce.

  1. Branded content partnerships are on the rise. The inclusion of creators in a social commerce campaign can be a huge advantage for brands looking to reach niche audiences. Influencers build meaningful relationships with their followers and can make great progress in promoting a brand or product in a meaningful and authentic manner.
  2. Livestream shopping is becoming a commonality. Technology platforms are creating more channels for users to connect with video and livestream formats. As mentioned through the Mintel 2021 Global Consumer Trend ‘Virtual Lives,’ it is expected that ecommerce will become more prevalent as it aims to recreate in-store shopping experiences.
  3. ‘Try before you buy’ with the help of augmented reality (AR). Platforms like Snapchat have grasped the art of allowing customers to interact with a product with the help of AR filters, making the shopping process more experiential. Lenses provide a great way for brands to increase awareness and exposure by encouraging users to share branded lenses with friends, some of which contain buy links.

Platform Examples and Strategies

Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are all implementing new formats on their platforms, and as social commerce continues to grow, consumers will expect a seamless integration between social media and e-commerce.

Meta recently announced the rollout of new features for shopping within its Facebook Groups aimed at helping users find recommended products. Facebook encourages shopping through its groups. Facebook’s new ‘Shops in Groups’ feature lets users purchase products from within their Facebook groups. The feature creates a huge area of opportunity for collaboration during the purchase process.

Source: Facebook

Instagram’s new branded content features help creators get discovered by more brands while driving more purchases. Using Instagram’s new ‘Partner Discovery’ feature, creators can add active brands they’re interested in working with to their preferred brands list. This gives the creator more control when brands are searching for creators to partner with.

Reels take center stage. This update allows brands to use unique filters and data to source the right creators for their new campaigns. Additionally, they now have the ability to manage multiple campaigns at once through shortlists.

Source: Mintel social media monitoring as of 11/30/2021

Pinterest continues to shift its persona away from being a social media company to focus on being a resource for product discovery. With video content becoming increasingly popular with younger users, Pinterest is directly aiming to capture the attention of Gen Z with this new feature, while also likely including creators and brands that will resonate with Millennials.

Creators can demonstrate and tag products during their live shows, as well as offer special discounts — viewers can then select and purchase the product directly from the retailer’s website. For brands looking to increase product awareness, this is a great channel to facilitate relationship building with potential consumers with the support of influencers.

Source: Mintel social media monitoring as of 11/30/2021

What we think

Before launching a social commerce strategy with influencers, brands need to consider a multitude of topics:

  • Know your audience. Knowing where a brand’s target audience is viewing entertainment content is key to launching efforts surrounding a social commerce campaign. For example, if the target audience is mainly Millennials, Instagram remains a great platform to reach those individuals. 
  • Maintain authenticity. When selecting influencers for partnerships, it is imperative that the relationship is authentic. Brands such as Chime and Klarna have done a great job selecting influencers that have organically fit into their messaging and have captured the attention of their audiences.
  • Strive for brand awareness. State Farm prides itself on comedic marketing and advertising methods and maintains a presence across social media platforms. His persona has encouraged brand awareness and has led to audiences connecting with State Farm on a deeper, more meaningful level.
  • Product discovery is the ultimate goal. Social shopping allows consumers to bypass the marketing funnel by taking them directly to a product and video is oftentimes the best medium to truly showcase the benefits of a product. As social commerce continues to grow, consumers will expect a seamless integration between social media and e-commerce, with a greater emphasis on video.

For more social shopping platform analysis, brand examples and expert recommendations across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest, Mintel Comperemedia clients can log in to view the full report.  

If you’re not a Mintel Comperemedia client, check out the Mintel Little Conversation podcast episode on social commerce.


Mili Patel

Mili Patel

Mili is an Associate Research Analyst with Comperemedia, specializing in omni-channel marketing trends.