Social commerce is on the rise, with traditional and direct-to-consumer brands alike embracing the opportunity to sell their products in a new way. In fact, 66 percent of brands analyzed in a 2018 Gartner study had started using a social commerce feature within the last year. 

But it's a fairly new trend, and many marketers are still deciphering how it fits into their brands' growth strategies. Since co-founding my content marketing company, I've seen how quickly trends like social commerce can catch on--it's no secret that social-media platforms are rapidly evolving, and can even feel a little volatile! 

If your brand is considering a move into social commerce, here's a quick rundown of the basics, and a little inspiration from other companies that have cracked the code for brilliant social-commerce campaigns. 

What is social commerce anyway?

Social commerce describes the behavior of buying and selling something on social platforms. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are some of the major players in the space, as they've invested heavily in launching features to drive social commerce. 

Facebook has a "Shop Now" button, for example, and Instagram introduced shoppable posts, stories, and its Checkout feature, which lets customers buy from brands from within the app. According to Instagram, roughly 130 million people interact with product tags in shoppable posts every month.

Pinterest also uses shoppable posts and recently unveiled its "Try On" feature, which leverages AR technology to let users virtually test out makeup and beauty products before they purchase.

Newer platforms are starting to lay the foundation for social commerce, too. TikTok added in-app purchasing features and  "link in bio" functionality, so select users could add links to any destination, including e-commerce sites, to their profiles.

Which brands are leading the charge?

Social commerce is a strategic channel for many lifestyle brands in the retail space--think clothing, beauty, home goods, and luxury items.

Allbirds, a direct-to-consumer shoe brand, executed a creative campaign for its second birthday that was totally built around social commerce. The brand launched a limited-edition shoe collection that was only available to purchase via Instagram, creating a sense of exclusivity and rewarding its followers. 

Allbirds isn't the only footwear brand to take advantage of all that social commerce has to offer. Nike's Jordan brand partnered with Snapchat to pre-release the Air Jordan III "Tinker" sneaker via the app. The result? The shoe sold out within 23 minutes!

Beauty brands like Estée Lauder, Sephora, and Lancôme are embracing Pinterest's Try On feature to empower consumers to "test" their products via the app. For example, users can test out different shades of lipstick to find their perfect shade, and then easily purchase it through the app.

Beloved clothing brands are wisely taking advantage of Instagram's shoppable posts and stories. J. Crew and Madewell often use shoppable product stickers in their stories and posts, while highlighting outfit ideas and inspiration for consumers. 

These examples are just scratching the surface. It's exciting to see how even more brands are putting these tools to use to drive purchases through social-media platforms.

Make it your own

As tools continue to evolve, the possibilities for brands to incorporate social commerce into their overall growth strategies are seemingly endless. Think about it: If your audience is already engaged with your brand on social, there's a good chance they'll have high intent to buy something from you.

In fact, many of them are probably using social media to research their next purchase. Sixty percent of people say they discover new products on Instagram. By investing in a social-commerce plan now (while it's still in its early days!), you can test and learn to develop a winning strategy that will reward your customers' loyalty and drive meaningful growth.