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Social media will continue to have an impressive impact on the United States and the global economy in the years to come. In 2020, Statista estimated U.S. social commerce sales alone at $27 billion and projects an increase to nearly $80 billion for this sector by 2025. If your audience isn't yet purchasing your products or services as they scroll and swipe on social media, you're missing countless opportunities to drive incremental sales. Join us as we dive into the difference between shopping on TikTok or Instagram to inform your brand's social shopping strategy.

Let's talk about TikTok

TikTok surged to the top of the social commerce competition earlier this year by partnering with Shopify, an e-commerce giant that powers more than 1.7 million online stores. In September 2021, TechCrunch reported that TikTok users are 1.7 times more likely to make purchases through the app than users of other social media platforms. More than 4.6 billion people have viewed the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag, which showcases products available for direct purchase.

If your brand already runs on Shopify, you can create a dedicated storefront where TikTok users in the U.S., UK, and Canada can make purchases directly through their profiles on the app. You can highlight products for sale within videos using the Product Links feature, which brings users directly to your online store. 

TikTok also has a LIVE shopping feature that facilitates real-time engagement with browsers. Users can interact with your live stream and receive dynamic links to products and services. For example, you can demonstrate a new product line, and your prospects can simply click through to buy their favorite items. 

The app also has a Collections feature with product cards users can swipe through and select. In one case study reported by TechCrunch, TikTok cited a 50% increase in product page visits and a 600% ROI in ad spending with this technique, which works well for new product launches, special sales, and time-limited promotions.

Another new TikTok shopping feature, dynamic showcase ads, lets you advertise millions of products through video ads that target users based on products they have viewed, browsed, or added to their online cart in the past. Choose from intuitive templates with engaging music and text features. While TikTok told TechCrunch that dynamic showcase ads improve both clickthrough and conversion rates, the app has not yet shared hard numbers. 

Clicking on ads is still the main way users discover and purchase products within TikTok. Currently, only business profiles can use TikTok shopping features. Unlike Instagram, the app does not offer a centralized location within the app for users to search and shop. 

In September 2021, TechCrunch reported on additional upcoming partnerships that will bolster TikTok's social commerce capabilities. Look for new integrations with BASE, Ecwid, OpenCart, SHOPLINE, Square, PrestaShop, and Wix in the coming months. The app is also testing partnerships overseas that use TikTok for everything from point of purchase to fulfillment, streamlining the social commerce process even further. 

The lowdown on Instagram

The suite of Instagram shopping tools lets users make purchases directly from the photos and videos your brand posts to the app. As they scroll their feeds, your content blends seamlessly with posts from family members, friends, followers, and favorite pages, removing the friction from the purchase process. At the same time, your stories and posts build your brand story in an authentic way that creates a sense of trust and engagement among prospective customers who connect with you on Instagram.

Collections let you customize your shop by curating products into themes, like new arrivals, gifts, seasonal trends, and other inspiring categories. Product detail pages (PDPs) pull all the relevant info directly from your existing website product catalog so users can see photos, prices, and descriptions as they browse. When a prospect clicks on your Instagram PDP, the app redirects them to your website to complete the transaction.

You can also facilitate in-feed purchases with Instagram checkout, available to some U.S. businesses and creator accounts. Through the checkout feature, you can create exclusive announcements and promotions for Instagram users so they can preview details and set reminder alerts to purchase as soon as your product drops.

Use Product Tags to highlight catalog images right in your Instagram photos and videos. With this strategy, interested browsers can easily learn more about your offerings with a single tap. Within Ad Manager, you can even add Product Tags to boost the reach of your shoppable posts. To see an example, check out our work with Chipotle for a special Instagram Stories campaign.

Instagram has a personalized shopping tab where users can explore editor's picks along with new brands and products targeted to their interests. While originally only business profiles could take advantage of the Instagram shopping tab, now all users can find this feature on their navigation bar. 

The bottom line for your brand

If you’re an avid reader of the Code3 blog, you understand your brand needs to be everywhere in today’s landscape. However, each channel is unique and resonates with users in different ways that may be better served for certain products and objectives. 

Because organic reach and engagement are so much higher on TikTok compared to Instagram, you will get a much better average return on investment for both your time and money on TikTok. On the other hand, Instagram boasts a larger audience, as well as a dedicated social commerce section for both business and individual users. 

If you're ready to elevate your social commerce strategy for TikTok or Instagram or both, partner with Code3 for a path to online marketing success. Our team can set up your brand to scale success with social shopping on the sites your prospects prefer.


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