What Is Social Commerce?



May 13th, 2024

Over the past 15 years, we have seen the social media revolution. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok have grown massively, boasting billions of monthly users. Designed to share user-generated content, they have continued to evolve and expand their reach.

A natural extension of this growth has arrived in the form of social commerce. This refers to selling products or services directly through social media platforms or utilizing social media networks to facilitate and enhance the online shopping experience.

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What is it?

Social Commerce integrates elements of social media and ecommerce, allowing users to discover, research, and purchase products without leaving the social media platform. This helps create a more native and unified shopping experience and can be another revenue stream for the company.

This can be done through direct user-to-user transactions like Facebook Marketplace and by brands and retailers integrating their social platforms as part of an omnichannel selling strategy.

Recent global events have, of course, been one of the primary drivers for the social commerce revolution. The events of 2020 and beyond led to a large shutdown of traditional brick-and-mortar retails due to lockdowns. Naturally, this provided an enormous opportunity for ecommerce. As more and more people began to use social media during this time, again due to the restrictions around physical encounters, a chain began to emerge between the two concepts.

Companies and brands that may have previously used social media as a revenue source saw the enormous opportunity to merge the two as consumers spent longer online due to the global situation. Combined with their usual dropshipping operations, Retailers were able to see great returns on their investments in this area.

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The Key Aspects

Social Commerce, or Social Media Commerce as it is sometimes called, operates upon a few core concepts. Understanding these can help ensure a coherent strategy is maintained throughout all touchpoints.

Social Shopping

Social media platforms can allow users to browse and shop for products directly from the platform itself. Product ads can appear natively on the platform, appearing like regular posts on a users timeline, which may come across as less “salesy,” possibly increasing their overall reception by an audience and conversion rates.

Customer Marketing

Reviews, recommendations, and ratings are all core aspects of social media commerce. These can be used as a form of customer marketing by the brand in question and by unsatisfied customers who may want to deter others from buying. Brands and retailers should manage this process, as negative reviews often carry more weight than positive ones.

Brand Ambassadors

Influencers and brand advocates play a significant role in social commerce. They promote products to their followers and drive sales through endorsements and sponsored content. Celebrities may use their own social channels to promote products, tagging the brand in a post or story.

Data & Analytics

Like any other online platform, Social media platforms can provide valuable data and analytics to businesses, enabling them to understand their customers' behavior, preferences, and trends and optimize their marketing strategies accordingly to target these segments more effectively.

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Advantages of Social Commerce

There are numerous reasons why brands and retailers should prioritize a strong and coherent social strategy. These include:

Large Potential Customer Base

Social media has an enormous user base, including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Social shopping presents significant opportunities for customer engagement and sales growth. The crucial strategy is to harness this buying behavior by directly ensuring a seamless checkout process within their social media platforms, minimizing interruptions.

Shortened Buying Funnel

A key advantage of this model is that it can help shorten the overall buying process—brand awareness campaigns can directly tie into conversion because the entire process occurs on one platform. Leveraging potential impulse buying can greatly increase the likelihood of conversion.

Brand Awareness

Social commerce offers excellent opportunities for brand awareness in the sense that it combines both social media and ecommerce. This huge branding opportunity allows retailers to create brand awareness and stay top-of-mind to potential customers through daily content updates.

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Social Commerce Is Here To Stay

Social commerce manages to commercialize online interactions to create a more immersive and interactive shopping experience, driving engagement, conversions, and revenue for brands and retailers.

The channel will only grow in the overall market share of ecommerce as consumers spend more time on social media platforms. As AI becomes increasingly integrated into these platforms, this, too, will feed continued growth in this area.

Overall, retailers should devote an increasing amount of their time and resources to developing coherent and iterative social commerce strategies.


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