Social Support Commerce 101

Maria Spanicciati

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Gladly

Read Time

7 minute read

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In case you didn’t already know: social media is a big deal. This is particularly true for companies that earn money through online commerce.

Shoppers spend a lot of time on social media—over an hour per day. Social channels are how they explore trends and products, shop, seek out customer service, and tell their friends about exciting new products and brands.

This means that companies that are intentional about using social media can generate huge returns. Allow us to explain.

Beyond social marketing

By now, most companies are familiar with marketing over Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Social marketing is great, but only using these channels for marketing is a huge missed opportunity. Why? Although most businesses don’t think of social channels as customer engagement and support platforms, their customers do. 

In fact, nearly 70% of consumers have reached out to customer service via social platforms at some point.

As Lindsay Patton-Carson, the social media supervisor at Evoke KYNE, noted: “If your brand has social media profiles, you are absolutely going to have to perform customer service on social media. There isn’t a way to get around it.”

Allow us to introduce you to social support commerce: the practice of leveraging social media channels to provide a superior, seamless customer support experience that generates increased revenue.

By engaging in support situations, social support commerce identifies opportunities for building brand loyalty, resolving customer issues that could have resulted in an abandoned cart, or upselling to dedicated customers.

Building on social commerce

Social support commerce builds on the growing trend of deploying marketing and sales efforts across social platforms to maximize customer engagement and profit. Defined as purchases that take place within social network apps, social commerce is a rapidly growing sub-segment of e-commerce.

There’s a reason that brands sell on social. Selling through social media provides a unique opportunity to reach customers who might otherwise not hear of you. Instagram has proven a particularly useful platform for this, with 70% of consumers discovering new products on the platform.

Positioning content in front of audiences on social media , allowing you to engage people in shopping for exploration or entertainment.


Using Instagram to Drive Customer Service-Attributed Revenue


Post-purchase customer support

Because social media channels are built for ongoing engagement, they are tailor-made for the kind of relationship-building that brands should make a part of the purchasing experience.

For example, not only do customers explore products on social media, but they also post about their products after the package arrives in the mail.

Did they love it? Great! They’ll post a positive message, and, if you’re lucky, tag you.

This is an opportunity for one type of social support commerce. Customers love the recognition and response, and they’ll become your loyal advocates.

The same is true if a customer hates a purchase. You might see posts like “Wrong size,” “Where’s my package?” and “The color isn’t what was pictured.” Brands that respond quickly can salvage the relationship, turning a negative into a positive.

Brands that engage proactively with customer posts and comments earn 20-40% more than companies that only post marketing content. In other words, failing to engage in social support commerce leaves easy profits on the table. 

The struggle of integrated support

Social media channels have greatly improved the tools available to sellers over the years. For example, Facebook offers Shop pages with messaging options, and Instagram invites customers with glossy, magazine-like spreads and integrated Instagram Checkout.

Customer support technology, however, is way behind.

If your customers are buying across multiple platforms and reaching out to customer service through messaging, how do you keep track of the interactions?

Many companies designate one team for phone service, one team for email resolutions, and a separate team for social media marketing. Unfortunately, this creates difficulties when the marketing posts receive comments from curious or dissatisfied customers.

In the past, tech integration has also presented challenges, and third-party software hasn’t always worked smoothly when applied to multiple social channels.

This means that too often, instead of utilizing the instant, friendly interactions that social networks provide, companies either ignore the feedback (yikes!), or comment with instructions to take the interaction off the platform. The problem with this is that “Call our customer service number” or “Reach out to this email address” frequently doesn’t elicit a response—and when it does, customers can be frustrated by the need to reach out on a different channel instead of from right where they already are..

Many customers prefer to resolve the entire interaction on the social platform. Your team can be prepared to make this possible.

As a company, look for social support options that are intuitive and streamlined so that your customer service heroes can keep up with loyal customers no matter where they are.

Social support commerce is on track for growth

Online sales grew massively in 2020, and social commerce sales, in particular, are expected to see continued growth to exceed $36 billion in 2021.

Take your game to the next level to make the most of this. Empower your agents to see potential customers’ comments in their interaction history, answer questions they post on promotional posts, and solve customer problems in the app.

Using social media to build relationships with your customers is a great way to be radically personal. Embrace social support commerce to boost your company’s online reputation and revenue.

Learn more about how Gladly can help drive revenue through personal conversations with Instagram.


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