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Editor's Comment: Selling on social media – the next steps

Keely Stocker

Social media has become a daily obsession for many consumers, and savvy brands have embraced these channels to maximise engagement and – until now indirectly – drive sales. 

However, the social media landscape is constantly evolving, and this week brought surprise news that could put Pinterest back on the fashion retail radar. Following in the footsteps of Instagram and Snapchat, Pinterest is launching a shopping feature that links pins directly to product pages on retailers’ sites.

Historically, retailers were told to build a brand identity on social media platforms, but it was thought to be a cardinal sin to overtly attempt to sell product. Users would immediately disengage. But today, social media channels are increasingly becoming a place to shop, and users seem to be embracing the shift. 

Pinterest has gained a reputation as the place to build mood boards for wedding planning, creative projects and home-decor inspiration

There is still a fine balance to be struck, of course, and it would be naive to think any community platform could or should be used solely to sell. However, if brands can build a personality and an identity, and reflect their understanding of their customers’ interests and lifestyles on these platforms, they can also directly drive sales without putting people off.

Screen shot 2018 10 26 at 11.56.42

Pinterest has gained a reputation as the place to build mood boards for wedding planning, creative projects and home-decor inspiration, rather than fashion. However, Asos currently has 670,000 followers on the site, Next 70,000, River Island 56,000 and Boohoo 40,000. While these are nowhere near the numbers they have on other social media channels, such as Instagram, they are not to be sniffed at – and the addition of a shopping function could boost their Pinterest followers significantly. 

Coincidently, in the same week as Pinterest made this announcement, Asos has launched a “Boards” feature on its app, which allows customers to categorise saved items by groups.

If Pinterest is right, and its users want to shop through the platform, it could reflect a wider change in behavioural trends on social media. Faced with the fleeting nature of Instagram Stories and Snapchat, perhaps some social media users are looking to slow down the pace and are seeking a more leisurely experience – for example, by collating and editing a collection of images. If so, it presents an interesting shift in social media usage and an equally interesting opportunity for retailers. 

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