Social Commerce Is Still Growing: Facebook, Pinterest and Polyvore Case Study

Silvio Porcellana

Jun 27, 20166 min read
Facebook, Pinterest and Polyvore Case Study

The future of e-commerce is social. In 2015, social networks have generated sales of over 30 billion dollars, with an increase of $10 billion from the previous year.

This is a positive trend that will continue, as confirmed by different signs. On the one hand, it is met with enthusiasm by the brand’s marketing department: according to 52% of marketers, social commerce is one of the most important areas of investment this year. On the other hand, many of the recent implementations adopted by the most popular social networks have to do with Social Commerce. Here are three prime examples: Facebook, Pinterest and Polyvore.

Facebook Creates an Internal F-Commerce

There is a high probability of generating traffic from social media. It is a potential which grew by 200% between 2014 and 2015 and is still growing, thanks to the features that social networks continues to implement in order to ease the user’s path to purchase. Facebook has long provided the possibility to insert the “buy now” button on the brand’s page and to use paid advertising, with a direct link to its e-commerce.

Recently, it has also activated a native function allowing brands to sell their products directly on Facebook. Articles with photos and prices can be inserted in a section, just like an e-commerce.

Users can explore F-commerce and buy the product of their interest without leaving the platform.


Pinterest Enhances the “Buy” Button

Despite having fewer users than other social media, Pinterest is one of the major players in social commerce, generating 16% of the revenue related to this channel.

At the end of 2015, there were over 60 million purchasable products on Pinterest, thanks to the “Buy” button that brands can add to their products. It is a simple and effective feature, considering that 73% of Pinterest users have bought at least one product viewed on this platform. Pinterest has recently enhanced this feature: every e-commerce site that uses IBM Commerce, Magento or Bigcommerce can use the purchase button. Pinterest has also enabled integration with Shopify, Demandware and major retailers such as Macy's, Nordstroms and Bloomingdale's.


And Then There’s Polyvore: A Short Story of Success

Created in 2012 and recently acquired by Yahoo, Polyvore is one of the largest community related to style. Social and e-commerce are the two factors that make up this channel and that led to its success. Most of the content is generated by users, who can choose the products within an index and use them to create collages, published as a set and shared with other users.

Polyvore has also recently created a “My Brands” section, where you can add your favorite brands and always keep an eye on the latest items. The platform also offers brands the opportunity to sponsor their products in order to gain more visibility and be used by its users in their sets.

A community where even the small ones can become great

Polyvore is not a channel reserved only for big brands. Any brand in the fashion industry and design can exhibit their products in this online square and interact with potential customers, through comments, likes and follows. Users who show great interest in their brands become real testimonials that voluntarily promote the brand on Polyvore and other social media.

For some brands, Polyvore is an important channel where to test new trends and markets, as proved by the case of the brand Neiman Marcus. In addition to sponsoring their products on Polyvore, the brand uses the platform to study user behavior, items that are trending and then it turns them into marketing strategies. Last summer, for example, Neiman Marcus decided to focus its collection on total white looks and decided to monitor Polyvore: sets created by users with the total-white look were indeed very popular. The brand has thus doubled up the number of all-white clothing it proposed in its advertising campaigns.

Neiman Marcus White Dress CampaignNeiman Marcus White Dress Campaign

Why Does Polyvore Work So Well?

Its strength lies in the type of target that frequents the website, who are highly profiled based on the products shown on its platform (related to fashion, home decor, lifestyle) and are strongly interested in purchasing, much more than other social networks. On average, its users generate a shopping basket that is worth $200.

They are more likely than customers in other social networks to make a purchase, according to data provided by the site itself.

A second reason that makes Polyvore a unique success story is the idea behind its creation. Unlike Pinterest, which was created to collect beautiful and inspiring pictures and only subsequently took the opportunity to sell products, in Polyvore the commercial and social aspects were conceived and developed together. This can also be noted visually: sponsored content by brands do not interrupt browsing experience, rather it blends harmoniously with the unsponsored ones.

3 Things to Learn from Polyvore's Success

1. Create a perfect outfit for mobile

Polyvore is aware that mobile has an increasingly important role in social commerce.


Its interface is perfectly optimized for this type of device. By accessing the website from your smartphone, you can easily interact with all its content, save its most interesting products and buy them in a few clicks. After a few seconds of navigation, users are asked if they want to download the app to further enhance their experience. Once the download is completed, the app proposes a quiz to the users, through which they can choose the items they prefer. In this way, Polyvore has an idea of which products to propose in the future, thus creating an even more personalized experience.

How can apply these ideas to your e-commerce?

  • Think mobile by choosing images that well represent your products even in a small-screen smartphone
  • Simplify the paths that lead to purchase
  • If you have an app, try to offer added value to the site, in terms of content or services, so as to encourage people to use it more frequently

2. Support user engagement

What distinguishes social commerce from traditional e-commerce is the possibility of interaction with and between users. Polyvore fully enhanced this feature by creating a virtual studio where people can create their own style, express their personality by interacting with the products and combining them to create new outfits. For this reason, it has an engagement rate which is 3-4 times higher than that on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Think about how your customers might interact on your e-commerce store: any ideas?

  • Offer the possibility to access a reserved area where they can save their favorite products. This is also useful to collect data for future campaigns.
  • Invite people to comment and to review new products on your website or on social networks
  • If your product is suitable to be photographed, suggest customers to take pictures showing how they use it daily and to post them on social networks. Promote a hashtag to monitor this kind of content.

3. Focus on Your Target

One of the strengths of Polyvore is having types of products that are focused on fashion and on home decor and a very specific target audience, made up of women under 34 years old, lovers of fashion and style.

The site is entirely designed to attract and meet their interest. Polyvore’s audience is highly interested in buying and this is why conversions on the platform are higher compared to other social commerce.

A starting point: whatever it is you are selling, try to customize your offer for your main target. 74% of users are disappointed when the content of a site does not have anything to do with their interests.

  • Customize the site interface according to the users’ needs. Trace their paths, observe their habits and diversify the featured products based on their previous visits, as Polyvore, Amazon and many others do.
  • Create targeted offers that are able to hit very specific target segments. Customized emails have a conversion rate that is 6 times higher than the traditional ones. Mobile, the personal device par excellence, keeps growing and that is why customization strategies will also continue to be successful.

Social Commerce: Conclusions About Polyvore

The social factor will be increasingly important in online sales. Even if it has not been helping you boost your sales, it is only a matter of time: be among the first ones to grab this opportunity. Polyvore succeeded because it sensed a trend before anyone else.

What ideas do you have for social commerce? Let us know in the comments.

Author Photo
Silvio Porcellana Silvio Porcellana is the CEO and Founder of, the online tool over 1,000 agencies and professionals use to build mobile websites and native apps for customers worldwide. From his retreat in the Monferrato Hills in North West Italy, he bootstraps companies, writes about web and mobile marketing, and helps customers succeed online. Find out more about him at Twitter: @silvioporcellan
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