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How to Build Social Commerce into Your Influencer Program

September 28, 2021

We’re right around the corner from the holiday season which means it’s crunch time for marketers. 

Even though stores are open again, experts predict that online purchasing will continue to rise. And this year there is a new curveball for marketers. 

Current projections estimate that social commerce will account for $36 billion of sales in the US this year, representing 4.3% of all retail ecommerce sales.

It’s safe to say that building social commerce into your influencer program could help you win big this holiday season, so we’ve put together a checklist to help you be successful.

Step 1: find the right partners to drive product consideration and sales

A 6,000-respondent study found that approximately one third of shoppers turn to social media influencers to learn about products.

This suggests that influencers are a key strategic partner for building product awareness, consideration, and funneling traffic to your ecommerce site. However, finding the right partners is key - here are a few tips:

  • Work with influencers that already love your brand.
    Partners that genuinely like your products and align with your brand values will bring great content creativity, authentic enthusiasm, and audience engagement.

    During the holiday season you may experience surge pricing, in which case the best strategy is to have a roster of existing influencers (that you have long term relationships with) that you can fold into your social commerce program.

    If you don’t have existing relationships, or plan to expand your roster, the best strategy is to look for influencers who are organically mentioning your brand and your products. 
  • Use a performance-based compensation strategy.
    To make compensation results-oriented and transparent, avoid basing your partnerships solely on audience size. Instead focus on influencer performance tied to metrics such as engagement rate and / or sales.

    To hone in even further, base your offers on how past sponsored content performed. If you’re asking influencers to direct traffic to your online store, make sure your partners use unique links so you can track current performance and set a benchmark for next time!
  • Use data to find experienced social commerce influencers.
    To do this you typically need a tool that allows you to find influencers by searching content. Try running influencer searches using keywords that are tied to bottom-of-the-funnel call to actions like, “swipe up to shop”, “link in bio”, “use my code”, and “shop link”. You can pair these searches with other keywords related to your product category or even your competition to see who they might be working with. 

Step 2: get organized and set up a system of record for managing your affiliate partners and tracking links

Get your team organized with an influencer marketing platform that serves as a system of record - meaning all of your influencer partner data, communications, and reporting are managed and stored in one place. 

This type of investment is especially important once you start adding in the complexities of affiliate programs and social commerce! 

Make sure your system of record has unique link management, conversion tracking, attribution modeling, ecommerce integrations, and budget efficiency data.

Ultimately, you want a platform that will help you streamline the organization of your social commerce campaigns and give you insights to understand the impact of your strategies based on hard data.

Step 3: benchmark your performance and evolve your strategies with data

It’s possible that this is your first holiday social commerce campaign, so setting targets and defining success might be difficult because you don’t have historical data. 

Here are a few simple things that will make it easier to get started:

  • Track key performance indicators across the funnel. Implementing an influencer strategy for driving sales requires looking at the full funnel approach. While the sale is the ultimate goal, social media is still first and foremost a channel for product discovery and consideration. Set yourself up to measure the full impact of your influencer campaigns from awareness to consideration to sales. Over time, you will learn which types of content and which partners are the most effective for your objectives. 
  • Benchmark content performance. Sometimes success isn’t immediately apparent, or may be just one small adjustment away. This is why it’s important to keep a close eye on how your influencers’ content is performing. Maybe you don't see an immediate sales spike, but you see an increase in brand awareness or traffic from influencer generated content. 
  • Benchmark your competition: You can also track your performance compared to competitors and benchmark your share of voice over time. Competitive benchmarking can also help you uncover which strategies are working for others in your industry. 

Although there are high stakes during the holiday season, building an effective social commerce program could really help you win big. If you still have questions about how to be successful, check out this longer social commerce and influencer partnerships guide, this article about how to overcome measurement challenges, or subscribe to our newsletter to receive future articles.

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