How Is the Line Being Blurred Between E-Commerce and Social Media?


Not everything in life is black and white. Life isn’t so binary; the grey areas expand, and the lines begin to blur. This is certainly the case when it comes to e-commerce and social media, two relatively new but increasingly important systems that shape the way we live our lives.


Every transaction we make online, whether it’s buying a new television or reordering dog food, falls under e-commerce. This could be done through a computer, smartphone, digital home assistant, or any other form of technology that supports online transactions.


Social media is comprised of the platforms that everyday people, corporate entities and brands, use to stay updated on the news and pop-culture. Growing up with social media, the younger generation will likely stay digitally connected to the people they care about for the rest of their lives. As something that’s become so central to our culture over such a short period of time, social media has naturally made its way into various aspects of our lives.


We’ve recently discovered that e-commerce and social media go hand in hand, but what exactly does that mean for modern businesses and consumers? Take a look ahead and see how the line is being blurred, and know how to lead your company into the future.


Screenshots of a bag in Instagram


How Social Media Is Integrating E-Commerce

It’s no secret that e-commerce and social media are in cahoots, and many of the larger social media platforms are embracing the crossover. These outlets are making it easier for e-commerce businesses to sell their wares through their social media apps, which comes with a host of benefits. Below is an overview of what the most famous social media giants are doing to facilitate e-commerce.

  • Facebook — Some might say Facebook spearheaded the social media revolution; to those people, it’s not surprising that the Facebook Marketplace has existed for so long. The Marketplace is where you can look for goods in your local area or through your networks, as well as sell your own through more personal transactions. This is one of the earlier examples of social media facilitating e-commerce, and it’s still going strong.

  • Instagram — Another household name, Instagram rivals Facebook in fanbase loyalty. Live videos give followers a peek behind the scenes and create a more direct link between brands and their supporters. Now businesses can sell the products featured in their uploads and on their Instagram pages using icons on their stories and posts.

  • Snapchat — Very similar to Instagram, Snapchat adopts similar selling features as well. Here you can also advertise and sell your items through stories and direct snaps. Snapchat is also a great tool for boosting consumer engagement and spreading your influence.


"It’s no secret that e-commerce and social media are in cahoots.  Many of the larger social media platforms are embracing the crossover."  -Click to Tweet-


What the Big Guys Are Doing

The overlap between social media and e-commerce can look just about however you want it to, as there are no real rules. If there were strict rules to social media marketing, they’d be rewritten every time a left-field idea found success. There are guidelines, however, and you can always look at the big guns to see what they’re doing.


Big name brands use social media to market themselves all the time, but it’s important to remember that they have tons of resources. You might not be able to pull off the same strategies they use, which is something to keep in mind when researching tactics for your own use.


Brands maximize their outreach by utilizing every tool that’s thrown their way. You won’t see an inactive Twitter page for Nike or a ghost-town Facebook page for Samsung. Successful brands have accounts on every social media outlet, and they keep them active by posting fresh content and engaging with users. Then they can use these outlets to leverage their marketing campaigns.


When you have a large network of subscribers, every post you publish on your social media accounts has the potential to reach anybody in the world. Build up your following by being present on all channels and linking up with others, which brings us to...


Brands and Influencers

The big brands also enlist the help of recognizable celebrities to attract even more attention. From Derek Jeter’s famous milk mustache to Sofia Vergara’s hair’s signature sheen (based on the advertisement, presumably due to Head & Shoulders products), you see the connections between celebrities and brands all the time in modern advertising. A company pays a famous icon to endorse its products, and the customers who follow those icons are exposed to the brand. This works wonders for some companies, but it’s probably not within reach of the typical SMB.


Another way big brands get even bigger is by linking up with influencers. This is similar to celebrity endorsements, but it comes about more organically and benefits both sides in the same ways. Businesses will find other sellers that specialize in complementary products and use each other’s networks for a mutual boost.


As a startup or an SMB, look for established sellers within your niche and ask them to share your blogs, infographics, or social media posts. You give the brand free content to show their viewers and the post links back to your page.


Line of people using smartphones


Using Social Media for Your Online SMB

Although the line between social media and e-commerce indeed continues to thin, this has different implications for businesses of different levels. That’s an important point to keep in mind if you’re trying to emulate McDonald’s strategies for your startup business. The tools are available and the leaders are clear, so take what you learn and adapt it to fit your brand’s needs.

  1. Learn from the pros. Don’t just look at what the big brands are doing now; look at what they’ve done in the past, find out what they’re doing in the future, and stay tuned as it all unfolds. You have access to the same social media platforms as anyone else, so you’re presented with a lot of the same opportunities.

  2. But scale accordingly. Some brands can get away with huge discounts via social media promotions, and some don’t have the money to make the initial investment. It’s important to avoid reaching too high. Plan reasonable goals for yourself, according to a timeline that leaves room to breathe. Acknowledge that you have to take steps in order to reach the big ones, and don’t rush into a large-scale campaign that you’re not ready for.

  3. Integrate your platforms. If social media is barely a step away from e-commerce (and we’ve established it is), then your online presence is massively important. The chance to sell is always now, and you have to be on top of every social media platform to take advantage. Keep all of your accounts updated, use different channels to cross-promote your content, and make sure you’re making it easy for customers to buy your products. You can also use your main website and mailing list to let fans and followers know how to connect with you.

  4. Optimize for Mobile. Regardless of the size or nature of your business, you need a high-quality website to act as headquarters. These days, your website must be optimized for a mobile layout. Everybody is on their phone these days, which is part of the reason why, according to BigCommerce, brands that utilize social media currently experience 32% more sales than their offline-only competitors. Many of the people who check out your website will do so on their phones, so optimize your pages accordingly.

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