About 66% of 424 brands analyzed by research firm Gartner have adopted social commerce features within the last year, as brands focus on using social media to create awareness, drive transactions and provide customer service, according to the GartnerL2 report "Social Platforms and Influencers 2018."
As social networks have started to offer more commerce features, about 41% of brands studied have adopted shoppable content options from Instagram, while 17% make use of Facebook's similar-minded shoppable brand pages, the report stated.
Meanwhile, more than half of the brands studied have adopted Facebook's Shop Now button, which links out to brand websites where users can shop and make purchases. This option may favor direct-to-consumer brands over those that distribute through e-commerce retailers, Gartner said, but both types are leveraging the capability.
"Social commerce" is an exciting, enticing phrase, suggesting the potential to tap massive social networks to unlock spending by younger demographics of consumers whose wallets have proven so elusive via other marketing channels.
For all the excitement, however, social commerce is not generating a vast amount of revenue for brands just yet. According to an eMarketer study from the end of last year, about 34% of shoppers at that time had never bought anything on social media.
Perhaps that’s about to change. At the very least, the notion that more brands are adopting social commerce features suggests that more consumers will become aware of these features and become more comfortable using them. Success stories will help, too. For example, Nike's recent highly successful shoe sale via Facebook Messenger chatbot probably turned a few heads.
Will consumers ultimately prefer shoppable content or "link-out" features like buy buttons? The jury of consumers is still out on that one. Gartner observed that while adoption of Facebook’s shoppable brand pages is well behind adoption of Instagram’s shoppable content features, Facebook’s brand pages are lagging its Shop menu link and not as visible as the Shop Now button.
At least Facebook can find solace in the knowledge that it owns Instagram, which The Motley Fool last week called Facebook’s "best investment — by far." Instagram has steadily expanded the availability of shoppable posts to more countries after launching the capability in the U.S. last year. Also, as Gartner noted, among Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, Instagram garners more than 90% of total social media interactions. All of this sets the stage for social commerce to really take off. Now we just need to see it happen.