Headline article image How Gen Z is Leveraging Social as a Shopping Tool

How Gen Z is Leveraging Social as a Shopping Tool

If Millennials led the shift from shopping brick-and-mortar stores to online, Gen Z is driving the change from shopping websites to social media. 

This shift is twofold: first, Gen Z is discovering new brands on social media, either via word-of-mouth from friends or influencers, or through ads on Instagram, Snapchat and other popular platforms. (Sixty percent of U.S. Gen Z shoppers use Instagram to discover new brands, found a Composed study, and 80% of Instagram users say the app helped them make a purchasing decision). Second, this generation is actually shopping and buying products directly on social media channels--sometimes cutting out the online storefront altogether. 

That’s not to say that retailers should ditch online shops or list their entire line on social media. Think of this as a tactic to promote top-selling items, move your brand’s basics/essentials, or offer special promos. Just keep in mind that Gen Z has a very short attention span — it's only eight seconds long — so it’s important to keep your tactics engaging and concise. 

Essentially, selling on social media is an acquisition tactic. By making it easy to purchase mid-scroll, you’re bringing that user into your funnel with just a few taps. You can then send push notifications or emails driving them to your full online store--boosting visits and lifting your conversion rate over time. 

Not convinced? As of January 2020, 130 million Instagram users tap a product tag every month, according to the platform. Here are our tips to better leverage this social shopping phenomenon (to keep things simple, we’ll explore through the lens of Instagram’s shopping capabilities):

1. Get to know your options

Social shopping is still an evolving channel, so expect features to change over the next few months. Instagram has big plans for its shopping functionality. Over the next year, the company is predicted to roll out features like in-app checkout and shopping for creators. While the checkout feature is currently limited to a handful of partner brands, any company can currently tag specific items in a post. Tapping that item redirects users to the product page on your website, where shoppers can easily complete their purchase (and select Afterpay). It’s a good time to test the waters before going all-in on in-app checkout.

2. Be creative with your shoppable ads

While you can certainly post a product photo and call it a day, many brands are getting creative with their ads. On Instagram, users might scroll past a post that’s obviously an ad (think: a model wearing a t-shirt against a white background). They might pause and explore a flat lay shot or candid of people hiking a gorgeous trail. They can then tap your products (nestled in the flat lay or on the back of a hiker) to learn more and purchase. All to say: Social ads are an amazing opportunity to make the shopping experience more interactive and memorable, while pushing your marketing team to be creative (and have fun!).

3. Go beyond the static post

Now that you’ve nailed the creative product shot, try more dynamic mediums like videos and Snapchat or Instagram stories. This is an amazing opportunity to show your products in motion, demonstrate how they’re used, or simply show off cool features. 

4. Serve up products to the shoppers most likely to buy

Social ads have a superpower that traditional online storefronts don’t: the ability to target ads to specific shoppers. With smart targeting, you can put the right products in front of the right people--making your ad campaigns more efficient to save you money in the long run. A large outdoor retailer, which sells thousands of products for different climates and activities, would do well to push wetsuit ads to people who live near the coast (and not in Florida, where the water might be too warm!). If your brand is collaborating with an artist for a special-edition shirt, you’d want to target it to shoppers that love art. And so on. 

Online shops also provide limited opportunities for collecting analytics. Sure, you can A/B test different product photos and see which pages get the most traffic, but ad platforms like Instagram offer robust backend analytics tools. Use these to test, adjust, and grow.

5. Know when to expand

Some Gen Z shoppers buy on social platforms simply because it saves them time. If you could buy your favorite lip gloss while scrolling through your feed instead of navigating a full website on mobile, wouldn’t you? Once you have a better sense of how your shoppers interact with your ads, consider expanding the number of products offered on social channels. Again, be sure to test, learn, and keep content balanced. If you find that you’re losing followers, you might ask if your content is coming off as too promotional. And, don’t be afraid to ask your followers directly using a more informal medium like Stories: a simple “Do you want us to add more shoppable posts on IG?” can help you get the answers you need, while coming off as approachable and human.

Shopping as we know it has changed dramatically--and it will continue to do so. We’re here to help you keep up with trends and ahead of the competition.

Does your business want to leverage Afterpay’s social media reach? Launch with Afterpay in as little as under three business days. Contact [email protected] today!


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Afterpay Marketing
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