The Evolution of Social Commerce and Why It’s Here to Stay

Shopify saw a rush of new businesses using its platform. The increase in users resulted in net income soaring to US$1.12 billion for the period that ended March 31, 2021. 

A lot of Shopify’s success is partly due to Instagram’s rapid rise in Social Commerce. Instagram’s use as a primary tool for sharing photos to shopping – is an indication of how e-commerce is evolving. With one billion users, Instagram has presented itself as a new kind of digital mall. But it’s not the only platform using Social Commerce.

See it, click it, buy it – all from your phone. Meet your buyer where they are. 

In this post, we will cover the evolution of Social Commerce. 

What is Social Commerce? 

Social commerce is the ability to sell products and services directly through social media. 

While Instagram is the most popular, it is not the only platform you can use to reach your customers. 

At the time of writing this post, the social commerce market is expected to grow worldwide to over USD 3 trillion, according to Statista

Social commerce is already here and plays a part in a brand’s revenue. It’s a good idea to look at each platform’s opportunities. 

How did social commerce start?

Social commerce began on Facebook and has expanded to other platforms. In 2007, Facebook opened its marketplace, which allowed users to sell items within their networks. Seven years later, Facebook began testing its buy button, which allowed brands to sell directly on the platform. Marketplace was launched in 2018. 

In 2015, Instagram implemented a buy button. In 2016, Instagram introduced an excellent strategy for brands. They introduced an option for brands to tag products with a price. This allowed users on the platform to reasonably see a product they liked or loved, its cost, and purchase it. 

In 2018, Instagram launched its Shoppable posts for brands, elevating the social commerce conversation to another level by introducing a user-friendly check-out feature. 

Gen Z and Other Digital Spaces 

Soon, other digital spaces such as Pinterest, Snapchat and Tiktok would see opportunities in Social Commerce. 

Presently, teens are (as always) one of the most influential groups to influence culture and commerce-setting and resetting standards every few decades.

For Gen Zers, video is key. In 2020, video consumption across the board skyrocketed because of the pandemic. 

Short-form video content is essential to succeed. It’s how Instagram’s Stories and then Reels and TikTok have become important formats to present information or products to potential buyers. Gen Z-ers are two to three times more likely to shop on social channels, especially when they see peers or influencers or celebrities who they trust vet a product or service. 

Social Commerce and Influencers

Video is a vital part of social commerce, as are Influencers. Influencers can be an individual with a large following on social channels who can influence an audience. 

People spend more time on social media. Usage has increased to over 65 minutes in 2020. This has helped brands tap into influencer marketing to sell their products or services. 

Social Commerce and Trust

An audience of potential buyers is a significant component of social commerce; this tied into live peer review seems to be more effective than putting trust just on a brand. Buyers can interact with brand ambassadors who seem like regular people. Ambassadors host Q&As with brand representatives on Instagram Live or live shopping channels to engage buyers. 

Affiliate program on Instagram 

Instagram announced, in June 2021, that as part of its ongoing commitment to help creators turn their passion into a living, they were launching a native affiliate program on Instagram in the coming months. Since then, affiliate links have been available for some time for influencers with “swipe up” or link in bio” CTAs with a portion of the profit going to the influencer. 

Where is social commerce right now? 

Everywhere! It’s not just Facebook or Instagram; Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok are making the social commerce move. 


Once thought of as an app for filters and photos and sending messages that disappear in 24 hours, Snapchat is evolving into something else.  

The company is looking at its value in the current crowded social media space. Earlier this year, in May, it announced plans for a Creator Marketplace to allow its influencers to create product-centric AR (Augmented Reality) content and experiences for those on the platform. Snapchat also acquired Screenshop, which will refer users to the retailers of products posted in the app. 

By embracing AR, Snapchat is trying to place itself as a future-forward company. The hope is that users will want to “try on” clothes before purchasing and will do so through this technology. 


While still in its infancy as an ecommerce source, TikTok has proven to be triumphant. Last year, Shopify partnered with TikTok to help stars and creators turn into brands and launch their businesses.  


The mood and interior design setting app is best known for its boards and pinning visuals for weddings to fashing to interior design. Pinterest now has Shoppable Pins that allow users to pin items and then go back to that list and purchase any items they have saved.  

Live Shopping 

Live Shopping comes as the latest commerce trend to combine technological advances and social media channels with the familiar, quaintly nostalgic concept of at-home shopping. 

Facebook and Instagram each have their own versions of live shopping. Live shopping provides real-time feedback to brands selling products and the selling methods by its influencers. China is the largest market to adopt the trend. In North America, Live Shopping is positioned to make around $11 billion in 2021. 

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, it’s clear that ecommerce is evolving, and it’s not going anywhere. 

What is vital to brands or creators who go the social commerce way for revenue is not simply meeting buyers where they are but also making these spaces places where buyers want to get their products. 

Are you interested in exploring how Social Commerce can help your brand?

Social Know How can help you navigate your journey into this ever-evolving and exciting new age of social commerce. 

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