Social Commerce Needs a Data Strategy
Social commerce is an obvious marketing strategy for many brands; it’s where their consumers live, it’s where their competitors advertise, and when done right, it creates unparalleled engagement with consumers and an opportunity to drive commerce at any touchpoint. Still relatively new, it presents powerful potential for a growth trajectory. For companies all in on reaching their audiences where they spend the most time, selling on social media seems simple enough.
Social commerce also provides unique data and insights into consumers that we can’t obtain elsewhere. We can learn more about who they are, the brands they have an affinity for, and capture other data they’re providing through their public profiles.
But what some brands may not realize is that when they sell through social channels, they often walk away with less purchase data on the overall transaction. Brands lose visibility in these engagements, making it more challenging to accurately track performance across their full data ecosystem. While social commerce gives us a lot which is unique, the downfall is that we don’t have a clear picture of all the data.
One thing is clear: we can’t ignore social commerce. Even if the lack of data visibility seems scary, this is where the industry is headed, and social commerce is a critical growth driver. Research from Statista shows the global value of social commerce sales surpassed $990 billion in 2022, and is projected to nearly double by 2024. And with the continued rise of user-generated content (UGC) and influencer marketing, social purchasing isn’t going away anytime soon.
Still, this added complexity means brands leveraging social commerce need to establish a strong data strategy, understanding the data they’re getting, and recognizing the limitations, because with social commerce, it’s not a complete picture. Know what you’re getting into, set the right key performance indicators, understand the data that will be available and what won’t be available going into it.
Here are three questions marketers and brands alike should be asking themselves as they work to develop their data strategy for social commerce:
Question No. 1: What role is social commerce playing in your data ecosystem?
Who are your target audiences and what channels do they frequent? We know that Gen Z is all over social, so that’s a core destination for targeting this group. But is that always the case for all brands and all campaigns? Organizations should identify their target audiences as well as the channels they frequent the most based on the data they’re already capturing. Assessing how social commerce fits into the mix will give you a clearer picture of the benefits you’ll gain through the unique data social offers, while also recognizing the purchase data gaps that may result from transactions happening directly on the platforms.
Question No. 2: What are the right data points to track with social commerce, and how do they differ from other data points you’re tracking on other channels?
When it comes to tracking data on social commerce, focus on the unique differentiation. Purchase data may be lacking, but data is crucial to multiple other areas of social commerce, such as forecasting, personalization of experiences, and planning. To miss out on that data is to miss out on a key piece of information when you analyze consumer sentiment and behaviors towards your offering, including purchasing patterns. When forming this data strategy, recognize that the data you’re tracking on owned channels won’t be the same as what you’re capturing via social commerce.
Question No. 3: How do you measure the success of social commerce over time?
In addition to gaining an understanding of which direction your business currently leans, start envisioning where you see social commerce taking shape for your business in the years to come. This is still a very new space, but don’t be afraid to take a long view. Social platforms evolve quickly, and as they do, you need to be ready to adapt and evolve alongside them. Measuring social commerce success as part of your data strategy means moving at the same pace, while continuing to test, learn and progress.
Social commerce is the future, and we must embrace it. However, don’t be blind to its purchase data limitations. Instead, focus on answering these questions, and shifting your approach to align expectations toward what social commerce does uniquely well, and what you shouldn’t expect it to provide. The first step is understanding that with social commerce, marketing and media experts won’t know everything. But with the right data strategy, the overall ecosystem can capture the insights needed and close any gaps.
Rob Silver is executive vice president, head of media at Razorfish, an interactive media agency.
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Rob Silver is an accomplished Internet marketing and media professional with proven expertise in creating and managing interactive marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. He leads the Razorfish national media practice, which consists of more than 200 media professionals across media planning and buying, investment management, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, campaign management, ad operations, programmatic, commerce media and data sciences. He’s responsible for the development and delivery of Razorfish’s media capabilities for leading brands across a wide range of industries.
Prior to leading the media practice, Rob was a member of the Client Engagement community, leading cross-functional teams that delivered full-channel digital solutions encompassing ad creative, site design, media, social, CRM and technology development. Throughout his career, Rob has been instrumental in winning media clients and successfully leading long-term relationships.
Rob’s work has been recognized by the industry for Media Plan of the Year (Nike), AVA Digital Awards for SEO, US Search Awards, The Drum Search, and he has been a judge for the Campaign Media Awards.