See you later search, social commerce is taking over

Cemented by the death of telephone customer service, and driven by younger generations, how can brands get ahead of the uptick in social media shopping?

A whopping four in five (82%) businesses believe that consumers will find brands using social media rather than traditional search engines, said HubSpot's recent Social Media Report.

With 70% of brands selling products directly via social media, and nearly 80% buying advertising on the big four platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok), it's clear that businesses are seeing the value in reaching consumers on these channels. 

But it's not just about shopping. 74% of organisations stated that social media will become consumers' preferred means of customer service this year. This means that people are turning to the direct messages of a company over spending potentially hours on hold for a telephone conversation.

“The future of marketing is no longer about interrupting what people are interested in, it's about being what people are interested in,” said Julie Lock, Marketing Director UK&I, HubSpot. “With social media shopping on the rise, and customer service increasingly moving online, it's clear that brands need to have a strong presence on these platforms in order to succeed. 

“It's more important than ever for organisations to truly understand where their customers are and adapt their engagement strategies to meet them on their preferred channels as attracting and retaining key audiences will ultimately grow their business.”  

And it’s not just any social media channel that is taking over – it’s TikTok. In fact, over half (55%) of businesses believe that the new kid on the block has the most potential for growth, compared to just 8% who think Instagram is the way to go. It seems like the younger generation's love for TikTok is driving this trend, and businesses are ready to ride the wave.

So, internet browsers, it's time to step aside and let social media take the wheel, as the next generation decides how to search, shop and spend. 

SEO X social media 

“TikTok's visual, bite-sized content requires marketers to innovate and devise fresh approaches to storytelling. But crafting catchy videos is only part of the equation,” said Lock to PMW. “This platform is also merging social and search, requiring strategic planning to present brand messaging effectively.

“Sure, we may need to shift our focus and adapt strategies to align with different channels. But isn't that what we've been doing all along? The key is to stay flexible and up-to-date with customer preferences, and, as always, continue to test and learn. It's all about strategic experimentation: hire creative talent, embrace new platforms, and take a more focused approach to social media marketing.

“And what about SEO versus social media? Are we going to see a battle to retain customers between the two disciplines? Let's be real – it's time to stop thinking in silos and start integrating our efforts across channels. This way may open doors for more synergies that we never knew existed.

“With TikTok leading the charge, SEO marketers may need to become social media gurus and vice versa.” 

Tactics may differ based on the platform, but the fundamentals of good content creation and audience engagement remain the same.

“As search habits and platforms evolve, marketers need to stay agile, embracing voice search and AI-driven tools. With information overload on the rise, search is more important than ever,” Lock stated.

“If your organisation hasn't embraced TikTok yet, it's time to pay attention to the powerful algorithm driving this social media phenomenon. TikTok's authentic content captivates users from every generation, making it a game changer for marketers, especially those targeting older, pre-millennial demographics. Embracing this new platform, however, isn't out of the ordinary for those laser-focused on customer engagement. Although TikTok appeals primarily to younger users, older generations are also making their mark on the app, like my 13-year-old son and his 72-year-old grandmother!”