iPhone view of a shoppable post on Instagram

Scroll, Tap and Buy: The Rise of Shoppable Social Posts

January 5, 2021by Liesel Olson

Ecommerce has been trending upward for a couple of years, including shoppable social, which enables a digital purchase with a simple swipe or nearly effortless tap. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the momentum behind all things social turned meteoric.

But unlike many other pandemic-induced shifts, the uptick in shoppable social is more about the acceleration of a trend versus the start of something new. In recent months, shoppable social has become a habit and hobby for more and more people, and it’s likely to be one that has a strong and likely lasting grip. Not only do today’s customers expect this path to purchase to be available to them, social platforms like Instagram are releasing features that make it even easier for marketers and brands to woo customers and tap into this billion-dollar growth market.

Shoppable Social Sales to Hit $70B by 2023

That’s billion with a capital B. While exact estimates vary, most predict sales from shoppable social commerce will hit the $70B mark by 2023. That makes now the perfect time for brands to start living up to consumer expectations for shoppable social. But how? Taking the time to develop a thoughtful strategy is the first step.

Why Strategy is Key for Planning Shoppable Social Campaigns

The “gotta have it, can’t live without it” moment so often dwindles as buyers move through the buying journey, simply because there are so many steps they have to take along the way – and each step required makes cart abandonment all the more likely. But with shoppable social commerce tactics in place, marketers can harness that initial awareness, emotion and inspiration – and quickly pivot them into a sale with just a couple clicks, all but erasing the risk of cart abandonment.

For marketers looking to make the path to purchase more convenient and actionable via shoppable social, here are a few questions to ask when setting up your strategy:

  • What is our current customer journey?
  • What social channels are customers using and where are they most engaged with our content (and content like ours)?
  • How can we harness those preferred channels to make sure they’re built into that journey?
  • Do we have the bandwidth and capacity to apply shoppable social to our entire product line, or would it be best to test the waters with a few popular items first and apply those learnings to internal and external processes? (After all, you want to make sure you not only have the ability to incent sales, but fulfill orders according to customer expectations.)

Once you have laid the foundation, it’s time to think through what a great execution looks like.

Exceptional Execution Helps Sales Excel

As consumers get increasingly used to making purchases digitally, their expectations for that experience evolve. Every tap asked of them is crucial to get right, otherwise they become frustrated and confused – and ultimately abandon their pursuit.

That’s why it’s important to take the time to understand the channels your target intends to use and do everything you can to make the experience as flawless as possible. Here are some questions that will help you design and execute a new shoppable social program – or evaluate one you may already have underway.

Social Channels:

  • Instagram is the frontrunner in shoppable social, offering shoppable posts with tags for items for sale, Stories with shoppable stickers that can be overlaid on creative – and even Live broadcasts with “shop now” calls to action.
  • Facebook offers Shops where a brand can feature full collections as well as posts that have tags calling out items that are for sale.
  • Pinterest takes a similar approach, enabling product tagging via a “Shop the Look” feature.
  • Snapchat and TikTok also offer “Shop Now” buttons that drive consumers to mobile-friendly websites to make purchases – a feature available across channels.

Creative and Messaging:

  • Does it align with the aesthetic and recommended specifications on each channel?
  • Are you harnessing sound and motion appropriately (e.g., featuring live demonstrations or including intriguing calls to action)?
  • How are you working with influencers? Can they promote on their channels or help create content for you?
  • Bonus points for exploring augmented reality where you can try on pieces or see an item in a space before purchasing!


  • Are you tapping into paid features on your Instagram, Facebook or other social channels to get promotional details in front of your customers?
  • Have you built a comprehensive and strategic target audience for your ads?
  • Are you employing a retargeting strategy?

Measurement and Testing:

  • Do you have tagging links set up to track activity?
  • Are you looking at sales data to optimize your campaign in real time?
  • What can you test that would allow you to learn and update your campaign on a continual basis?

As click and mortar-less retail becomes increasingly prevalent and pandemic trends morph into permanent behaviors, now’s the time for marketers to lean into shoppable social – i.e., building that always-open social storefront so your customers can shop from the comfort of their couch, bed or kitchen. And given there are literally billions at stake, can you really afford to miss out?

Looking for a partner to help you harness the power of social media to spark sales? Email Dana at darnold@hiebing.com to set up a call.

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