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  • Ishbel Macleod

Social shopping: TikTok made me buy it and beyond

A woman is holding a smartphone. She is opening up the TikTok app

Social shopping has seen a huge growth over the past few years: from buying through Facebook ads to ‘TikTok made me buy it’ recommendations. So what actually IS social shopping and should you be using it?

What is social shopping?

Social shopping is the name given to shopping involving social media – this could be directly buying on social media or getting sales recommendations (either from influencers or friends).

Sometimes called ‘social commerce’, it basically means that products or services are bought through social media. In 2021, the global social commerce market was worth $492 billion…and that is only set to grow.

TikTok made me buy it: Little Moons, L’Oreal and BookTok

Since 2020, TikTok has been a huge source of inspiration for shoppers – in fact, 67% of TikTok users say the platform inspires them to shop, even when they weren't planning to purchase.

The short video format allows influencers and fans to share quick reviews and recommendations of products, and is particularly booming in the areas of make-up, fashion, books, and even cleaning products. At the time of writing, there were over 17billion video views of TikToks using the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt…showing it’s a huge sensation.

One such example was mochi ice cream brand Little Moons. Customers trying and reviewing the snack had a huge boost for the brand – leading to a whopping 1100% increase in brand recognition, with Tesco noting a 700% increase in sales of the sweet treat. You can read more about the Little Moons TikTok success in our blog.

Screenshot of three different TikToks, each showing someone trying Little Moons

Beauty brands are also jumping on the TikTok social shopping bandwagon – in fact, in March 2022 L’Oreal announced a partnership with TikTok – which gives UK consumers the chance to purchase creator-endorsed product selection boxes through the TikTok UK shop as well as other retailers.

This was a great move from L’Oreal which has seen several products (including L’Oreal powder foundation and Maybelline eraser eye concealer) endorsed on the platform, leading to them selling out. The boxes will include products from a range of L’Oreal brands including Garnier, Maybelline, L’Oréal Paris, NYX Professional Make-Up and Essie.

L'Oreal's #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt box - from left to right the photo shows: a L'oreal Wonder water conditioner in an orange bottle, a mascara in a white tube, a NYX lipgloss in a bronze tube, a cardboard box with #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt written on it, a L'oreal face serum and a Garnier banana scented hair mask

TikTok has also been a huge success for booksellers – for big name publishers like Bloomsbury, bookshops such as Waterstones, and for independent authors. BookTok, as it is known, has become a giant arena on TikTok, where fans share their favourite reads by genre. At the time of writing, there has been over 66billion views of videos with the #BookTok tag. Publishers use TikTok to find influential creators and give them preview copies of books, getting a pre-launch buzz, as well as users sharing classic favourites. In 2021, UK’s total publishing income was up 5%, with many believing that TikTok had a large part to play in this.

A screenshot on TikTok showing the #BookTok hashtag. It shows that there has been 66.2bn views. Underneath you can see the thumbnails for 16 TikToks (2 rows of 8) which use the #BookTok hashtag

Social shopping on other platforms

But social shopping isn’t just a TikTok phenomenon: Instagram and Facebook both also allow for in-app shopping and are great ways to drive sales. Businesses who have a Facebook and/or Instagram shop can tag products, allowing viewers to click to find more information and buy, right in the app.

In 2019, Instagram, said that every month, over 130 million users engage with Instagram shopping posts.

Pinterest is also a fantastic place for social shopping – after all, it is a great place for people to research and buy products, whether that is for interior design, clothes, or hobbies. In October 2021, research showed that 85% of Pinterest shoppers have more in their basket than shoppers on other platforms.

Twitter is also in the process of testing its own shopping feature to make it easier to purchase in-app. Currently only in the US, this will allow brands to sell right from their feed.

A Twitter branded image, featuring two screenshots of Twitter pages. One is for Arden Cove's Twitter page, and the other is for Gamestop. Underneath the usual Twitter bio for each, you can see a small carousel showing the different products that people can buy from the brand via Twitter.

Should I be considering social shopping for my business?

If you sell a physical (or digital) product, it is worth considering social shopping.

Recently, a Google exec revealed that 40% of the 18-24 market turn to TikTok and Instagram to search for things like lunch spots before they go to Google. While this isn’t the same as social shopping per se, it is an indicator that research and shopping trends are changing: people are going to social platforms to get reviews and ideas, much like many people would go straight to Amazon to search for a specific product instead of looking on the wider internet.

If your product or service is something that can be sold via social media, here are some things to consider:

  • How can you show/explain it in under 30 seconds? You only have a short time to get your point across, so it needs to be elevator pitch style

  • What is your price point? A lot of ‘TikTok made me buy it’ trends have a fairly low price point, so if your product retails for over £50 or £100, you’ll be less likely to have people willing to try it, unless you can really justify it

  • Do you have people to vouch for it? Some social shopping trends don’t come from the brands themselves, but from members of the public or social media creators/influencers. You could try offering fans a discount for posting using a certain hashtag, or look to partner with an influencer in your space for content

  • How can you make it stand out? Show your USP so people know why they should buy from you and not someone else

Social selling is set to stay, so it is worth considering as part of your social media strategy.

Looking to sell your product through social media? Get in touch with us today.


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