What to Expect in 2020: Influencers Could Help Drive Social Commerce

NEW YORK—It’s become apparent that social networks have greater aspirations than connecting people. Indeed, social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok have ramped up their social commerce efforts in the past year, shifting toward “an ecosystem where users can discover, shop and purchase products in one place,” according to a recent eMarketer analysis. “Initially, these social commerce features were only offered to brands, but now social networks are experimenting by bringing the same tools to influencers.”

Instagram in 2019 gave some influencers the ability to create shoppable posts using Checkout on Instagram, a feature that allows users to buy products within the app, according to the report. Snapchat gave select top-tier influencers a “shop” button, where the likes of Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian West are set up to sell products from their respective brands. TikTok doesn’t have in-app checkout, but the popular short-form video app has begun testing features that lets influencers link out to ecommerce sites from their videos and profile pages, according to eMarketer.

“We’ve seen influencers enriching the social commerce experience in a number of ways, and we predict even more innovation in the coming year,” Adam Williams, chief executive of influencer agency Takumi said in the report. Williams said he believes the Instagram platform is positioning itself to become a “one-stop-shop” where brands can solicit influencers for every stage of the customer journey.

eMarketer noted that an October 2019 survey conducted by Bizrate Insights found that 31 percent of U.S. internet users have purchased a product through social media at some point, up from 23 percent who engaged in December 2018.

Recent platform advancements have helped bridge “the gap between influencers and checkout carts, but it may not be an immediate solution for turning social networks into full-fledged shopping platforms,” according to eMarketer.

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