For the past few years, I have caught myself shopping seamlessly from the comfort of my home, car and even a restaurant! All thanks to the convenience of the smartphone, I no longer have the patience to visit crowded malls, browse through each product, wait for the shop assistant to provide information and worst of all standing in long lines to pay. Mobile phones have created a shopping revolution! It's not only about the medium through which we shop, such as social media, but they have created a huge change in the consumer behavior and mindset.
Gone are the days when we used to make a long list of items to be purchased, earmark a weekend dedicated to buying them and allocating budgets. Now, the feeling is “I like what I see and I want it NOW.” You may call it instant gratification, quick retail therapy or impulse shopping.
This rising trend is recognized by social media platforms and retailers alike. Good or bad, it is here to stay and grow.
New features bridge the gap
Every other month we see new features added on to online platforms to make advertising and brand promotion easier for businesses (small or big) — and to make shopping experiences, check out and payment methods relevant and, most importantly, convenient for consumers.
Just recently, Instagram, the world's largest photo sharing app, announced a bunch of enhancements and market trials to make selling easier for businesses.
One of the key missing links for a consumer was that most shopping experiences simply took them directly from the product shop window to check out without giving any additional information, and hence only 21% of customers completed their purchase after viewing the product.
Instagram is now trying to bridge this gap by giving abilities to 20 retailers such as Kate Spade, Jack Threads, etc., in a trial run to provide tags in each picture to convey a variety of information such as pricing, size, etc.
Thus, a consumer can see further information about the product by simply tapping on the ‘tap to view' button. When tapped, the tags pop up showing the prices, and you can also tap the tag for detailed information like size, description, etc. If you like what you see, you’ll simply click the ‘shop now' button to buy it.
The best part is that the consumer does not have to leave the application, go back and forth to complete the transaction. This is a very important feature, which Pinterest also added to allow buying of products with its ‘Buyable pin’ feature.
Instagram, which has a huge user base, expects to learn a lot about the businesses and consumer behavior. There will be more features added to the test run — like product recommendations, how to make their content globally appealing, saving content for later viewing, etc. once the initial test run is implemented smoothly.
The new announcements simply go to show 3 things:
- Customize content. With an ever burgeoning user base on social media, apps like Instagram, Facebook, etc. have realized it is even more important to engage the user with realistic, customized content so users do not leave the app and give in to distractions. How to keep the interest alive in this increasing clutter is the key and hence their effort to make their apps end to end features for its users.
- Attractive ads and targeted feeds. Instagram and Facebook are very heavy on graphics, images, videos, etc. and, apart from traditional advertising options, they need to bring in new features to allow businesses to showcase more in-depth information about the product, perhaps customize it according to user’s preference and allow for a seamless shopping experience all on their mobiles. This is a win-win situation for brands and social media platforms
- Agile marketing and testing. It is a first-of-- kind test run with a handful of brands which just shows that working closely with a brand to roll out different advertising features and testing them is a great strategy to improve both the business’s brand equity as well as revenue generation if the test is a success.
Storytelling is the key to B2B
Advertising is all about storytelling and has been marketed well by Instagram and Snapchat, through their visual stories feature. Creating a short pictorial or video story with text, colors and filters make it easier and quicker for companies to keep their follower’s engaged.
Best of all is that both Instagram and Snapchat have a 24-hour self-destructing mechanism for these stories. Thereby, reminding the consumers that 'Hey, we are right here and don't forget us’ and also invoke the fear of unknown and targets the inquisitive human nature on what they might be missing.
Unlike Instagram, Facebook or Twitter; Snapchat is relatively new in the B2B space and has a limited analytics feature. However, it still has some unique features like facial filters (where you can add funny expressions/props to pictures) and geo filters which communicate the ‘where and when’ of a brand in a fun way.
All you need to do is create a filter or image to highlight the event, place or thing, and encourage people to use the filter in their Snapchat stories. Brand promotion and customer engagement have never been more exciting.
Businesses, small or big, have plenty to gain from these popular networks because that is where their target audience is.
As per a recent survey, 53% of businesses are active on Instagram and similar platforms.
Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are now the main stages for showcasing your brand, company culture and products in a fun way.
Most importantly, decision makers and consumers are hanging out on these networks, so it is definitely worth having an active presence on these networks. By doing some homework on your target audience, budgets and goals, one can decide which network or a combination of networks work for you.
What social media platforms do you currently use for B2B marketing or where is your current audience for your brand?