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You’re going to buy a car on social media this decade

No seriously! So says the latest analysis of spending patterns based on recent advancements in technology and Covid19-induced changes in consumer behaviour.

Social media platforms provide the shortest pathway from inspiration to purchase. The big platforms have already evolved to ensure purchases are not only frictionless but also safe and reliable. As the algorithms and safety measures continue to improve, there really is nothing stopping it from becoming so commonplace that you really could realistically use social media to buy your next car.

During the pandemic, our consumption of social media has dramatically increased. And social commerce increased by nearly 40% in 2020, compared with an average of 1-2% growth in previous years. This shift in user behaviour cannot be dismissed as temporary pandemic behaviour, as influencer marketing has been on the rise for a while now, experiencing a 282% growth from 2016 to 2019.

We are always shopping.

The brands that will win the social commerce battle will be those that develop strategies that prioritise enabling consumers to move through the funnel with as little friction as possible. To do that, it’s important to think about why people go to social platforms in the first place — for inspiration.

People are constantly scrolling their feeds. A few people browse with a specific purpose in mind, like finding home decor tips, but most just want to stay in touch with family and friends, and just stumble across things they didn’t even know they wanted and now simply have to have it. And how do they do that? Influencers.

Consumers have undeniably strong relationships with influencers — so much so that people trust influencers 94% more than friends and family when making shopping decisions. When you combine this strong trust relationship with increased time spent online, social media becoming the dominant space of discovery is a certainty.

Select your influencers wisely!

Implementing an influencer marketing campaign will be vital to support your digital efforts. Showing how your products work in different contexts and settings across various age groups and cultures opens your brand up to a much wider audience. Now your customer can experience your product in a much more immersive way, through someone they trust and relate to. This is a much stronger visual and emotional storytelling through which the consumer can experience your brand.

Choosing the right creator and the right channel to impart the right message at the right time will result in e-purchases large and small. No matter which creator you work with, it’s essential to trust them. Creators have traction because they understand their audience and create content their audiences love. Give the influencer the brief, and let them create the content their audience will love.

It’s getting even easier to buy in-app.

Behind the scenes, the technology supporting this shift is already in place on most platforms.

Instagram swipe-ups that take you directly to the product are nothing new, but the inclusion of the Shopping tab within Instagram’s main navigation since November 2020 offers brands significantly more visibility and the chance to promote their products to an even wider audience. Facebook and Instagram also recently announced a partnership with Shopify, which allows fast and secure payments without requiring users to share their financial information.

The Covid-19 pandemic gave many of us a nudge in this area: even the most reluctant technophobes were driven online as bricks-and-mortar retailers were forced to close. From Apple Pay to Amazon, those who resisted making digital purchases are the very same people who now say they couldn’t live without it anymore!

You may well buy a car on social media before 2030. And when you do, it probably won’t even feel particularly unusual.