Social Media Continues Its Expansion Into Direct To Consumer
It is impossible to scroll through any social media platform without coming across ads for products you want, need, and everything in between. The growth of social media has been fuelled by the growth of these monetization channels too. Social media’s evolution into an all-inclusive platform where consumers are actively making purchases has been a blessing for Direct to Customer (D2C) brands.
In many ways, the growth of social media and the growth of modern e-commerce have been synergistic. Ecommerce is where social media platforms are earning an increasing chunk of ad revenue from.
Over the past years, online shopping’s increasingly turned into the default option. Brand images here are strongly influenced by the word-of-mouth communication enabled by social media. Direct to consumer brands today can reap major benefits if they leverage word-of-mouth the right way.
From earlier days, the synergy between social and e-commerce has steadily grown. Today, social media is the top source of customers for any direct-to-consumer brand. According to this report, 61% of respondents said social media is their top source of new customers. Social media today has evolved both in terms of numbers and formats. Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, and now Clubhouse. D2C brands have to navigate through a variety of media.
Depending on the target audience, brands need to vary their presence and strategy across these platforms. Engaging and unique content, strong visuals, communities – all of these are key to a D2C brand’s success on social media.
D2C + Social Media = Profit
There are several reasons we expect social media to keep growing in importance for D2C marketers.
D2C Is Made For Social Media
Social media platforms are often the online starting point for many local one-person businesses. They advertise their catalog across various groups and feeds as well as on their own pages. These businesses are abstracts of the D2C brands we have today. Social media gives them the platform to build authentic communities and sell their products.
Social buying is a phenomenon in and of itself. Consumers rely on those close to them to make purchase decisions. Product recommendations, virtual window shopping- all happen on social media. The sense of community and the rise in more social buying behavior are reasons behind the growth of many D2C brands.
Sustainable In The Long Term
Social media isn’t a passing fad. We see it as a sustainable long-term sales channel for emerging D2C brands.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat- all these platforms have shown incredible resilience and have remained sustainable in the long term. For D2C brands, this is important. If they rely on social media platforms to build their brand and play a major role, they have to be sure about social media itself being a sustainable channel.
Shopping Patterns & Attitudes Are Changing
There is a niche for everyone today, and these niches exist as active communities, groups, or individuals on social media platforms. Many D2C brands are large retailers selling on their e-commerce channels, but at the same time, several niche products have unique value propositions not commonly found on e-commerce sites.
Vegan ingredients, Cruelty-free products, green and organic consumer goods – many of these segments have managed to find loyal customers through social media. Some niches depend exclusively on social media platforms to spread awareness and generate revenue.
One of the other behavioral patterns that have changed is that consumers are more open to seeing new products and brands through ads on social media. The attitude change stems from the fact that social media is not just a place to keep in touch. It is also a place where digital living happens, shopping included.
We can’t talk about social media and digital living without touching on the COVID-19 pandemic. The seismic shift in buying patterns – from eCommerce playing a peripheral role to becoming the only shopping option in certain cases, was catalyzed by the pandemic. Many consumers around the world made their first online purchase in the past few months. D2C brands are likely to retain a big chunk of these new customers in the long run.
Marketing on social media is a very data-driven process. Built-in tools and add-ons for top social platforms offer users a very high level of data granularity. The ability to run various campaigns, target very specific demographics, and retarget visitors – all of these are powerful opportunities social media presents to D2C brands.
Over time, successful brands use data insights to optimize their campaigns. Data helps decisionmaker take critical calls on budgeting, brand messaging, and so much more.
What Are The Winning Strategies?
Social media provides D2C brands with a wealth of opportunities. But what are the key strategies they can leverage to maximize ROI and drive growth?
A sale made today isn’t necessarily going to be from a first-time user who’s only just heard about your brand or product.
It’s common to have as many as ten touchpoints along the marketing funnel before consumers make their purchase. This means that being omnichannel isn’t an option; it’s a necessity. You’ll need to be present on as many platforms as possible and keep those handles updated with fresh and unique content.
It is important not to use a one-size-fits-all approach across social media platforms. You need to consider each medium in isolation and devise a unique strategy. What works on Facebook may not work on Twitter and vice versa.
Create Original, Authentic, And Unique Content
Focusing on paid campaigns and ads is important. It’s just as important to create and share quality, original content on your social channels. Videos, vibrant images, customer reviews, and testimonials – all these are great ways to stay engaged with the audience and to retain mindshare.
D2C brands have a large canvas to work with for social media marketing. If you are willing to be innovative and creative, your brand can create a unique identity. There isn’t a fixed strategy. You can use memes, tweet about topical events, jump on viral trends, and much more, depending on how your brand is positioned.
Being authentic is an important factor in succeeding on social media, especially for a young D2C brand. Without the cover of a trusted third-party e-commerce platform, building trust with your consumers is of vital importance. Being authentic allows brands to do this.
Influencers are a great option for D2C brands. Many consumers on social media platforms rely on influencer recommendations to make important purchase decisions. Leveraging this will give D2C brands handsome returns. Influencers built their communities of followers through hard work. These followers actively and passively look out for product recommendations from influencers.
The rise in the number of influencers and the growth of micro-influencers is something D2C brands need to capitalize on. Influencers are, by definition, active parts of specific communities. Even if you have ultra-niche products, you can find influencers to support your campaign efforts.
Influencer endorsements don’t just matter in terms of raw sales revenue. Brand image is an important factor. A positive relationship with influencers can help build awareness, respect, and trust with your audience or community.
Work With Data
Social media marketing is very data-driven. There is a huge amount of data that is available to brands for each campaign. Using this data effectively is a sure-fire path to success. What works, and what doesn’t? Closely observe your analytics and social media data points to identify your top-performing content, your most engaged audiences, and your key revenue sources. All these data points can be used to optimize, iterate, and improve your campaigns.
Use Shoppable Posts
Shoppable posts are a great way to get customers to take action. All major social media platforms allow brands to create shoppable posts where the consumers can directly buy products from the image or the post content. This is a very effective way for D2C brands to drive sales on social media.
D2C is a growing domain. More and more brands realize the need for standalone e-commerce solutions which they can control better and also realize better margins from. Many new brands are taking shape every day too. By connecting audiences and brands through relevant content, social media is the scaffolding on top of l which today’s D2C grow.
Social media platforms themselves are evolving to enable users to do more and to maximize user engagement. E-commerce fits beautifully into this equation. As social media channels grow and evolve, more ways become available for D2C brands to sell their products and grow.
Looking ahead, we can see how this will be a trend that stays with us for a while. Social media certainly does not seem to have run out of steam in its growth trajectory, and neither has does e-commerce. What we see in today’s post-COVID world is perhaps a vision of a world to come, where most selling and buying happen on social media platforms and websites. Social media will continue its push into D2C marketing. We’re excited to see what innovations lie in store.