How to choose the right platforms for your social

Social commerce offers potentially the biggest new online commercial opportunity since the launch of Amazon, but what functions does each platform have to offer?

Dominic Murray, Director of Digital, Initials, dives deeper into the main platforms’ key commercial features…

Consumers are catching on: according to Bazaarvoice’s annual Shopper Experience Index almost a quarter (23 per cent) of UK shoppers are already using social platforms to discover new products, making it apparent that social commerce, rich visual content and virtual storefronts are the future of any e-commerce strategy.

For that reason, smart businesses are taking a step back from their current ecommerce operations to consider how to implement a winning social commerce strategy that’s fit for the future.

A key part of planning your organisation’s approach to social commerce is understanding available platforms, and the opportunities to harness them to ensure your campaigns are appropriately targeted to relevant audiences – maximising ROI and sales.

To that end, here’s a snapshot of what the main platforms offer (you can find a full version of the guide here):


Facebook Marketplace added Facebook Shops in 2020, allowing businesses to create a closed-loop shopping experience via their Facebook page.

It also has a native checkout function to streamline purchasing, enabling customers to save payment/delivery details. You can also use product tags on adverts, which can directly link to your Facebook shop’s product page to simplify buying.


Snapchat has launched scannable barcodes and logos, meaning brands must create good content to drive strong performance. It also unveiled Brand Profiles in 2020 – currently in beta. Verified influencers can link to it, allowing users to directly purchase products.

Snap has also filed a patent for a platform where users can dress an online avatar and purchase latest apparel from brands.


Brands can utilise Instagram’s checkout feature – which it shares with Facebook – to improve customer journeys.

You can tag photo products to smoothly move from advert, to product page, to purchase. These tags, alongside shopping stickers in Instagram stories, have made it easier to connect to influencer marketing, harnessing highly effective Instagram posts and stories.


Cost Per Click (CPC) is low due to being a recent entrant into the social commerce arena. You can pin images on product pages and link directly from social to landing pages.

Pinterest is a visual search engine so it’s vital to focus on SEO and specific keywords. Growth of image searches, and use of meta data and alt text, is essential.


‘Conversational commerce’ can be used to create a personalised experience and drive sales; although this requires agents on the brand side to be highly competent and knowledgeable in sales and customer service. 

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, so firms with Facebook shop pages can import and connect them to WhatsApp.


Its recent global partnership with Shopify has made it easier for the latter’s one million-plus merchants to reach TikTok users. By connecting TikTok Pixel, merchants can track user actions following clicks on their marketing campaigns.

Ads on TikTok are natively integrated into the platform; the user’s full attention is focused when one is playing. TikTok owns its own data and advertising eco-system, and can therefore rely on real rather than inferred data.


The platform now asks creators to tag and track products featured in clips.

This data will be linked to Google’s commerce and analytics tools. The goal is to create a catalogue of products for users to browse and buy. 

An integration with Shopify to sell through YouTube is being tested, and videos can be tagged with shopping links. In future, users may search product reviews on YouTube and make a purchase there and then, streamlining the journey.

YouTube is also testing a feature that will automatically detect products used in videos, a move that will open up new opportunities to advertisers.


B2B social commerce cannot be overlooked. LinkedIn’s users are primed to see posts and messages with a commercial focus, making them more amenable and responsive to content.

Entrepreneurs, professionals and business leaders can utilise LinkedIn to stimulate organic growth through greater messaging reach on their social commerce platforms and build credibility.

With almost half (45 percent) of UK consumers saying they would choose in-store shopping over online if they could only choose one method of shopping for the next year, putting in place a social commerce strategy now is vital. A sound, timely social commerce plan will help your brand take advantage of untapped online shopping opportunities, protect and build your sales, and maintain and grow market share.


By Dominic Murray

Director of Digital