How TikTok, Facebook and Pinterest's social commerce strategies are performing –

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Social shopping has hit some speed bumps. With Facebook recently announcing it would sunset its live shopping feature and TikTok pulling back live shopping in the U.K., brands are grappling with how to best drive sales.
The platforms are looking to claim a share of the $36.6 billion that’s up for grabs in retail social commerce, according to Insider Intelligence, up from $27 billion in 2020. It’s estimated that social commerce will reach $56 billion by 2023.
As brands gear up for back-to-school shopping and keep an eye on the holidays, here’s a look at some of the social shopping features that were introduced, and walked back, so far in 2022.
Instagram has been undergoing an identity crisis as the platform looks to compete with TikTok and attract creators. In March, the platform expanded product tagging to all users in an effort to help smaller creators. But in July, Instagram announced that it would sunset its native affiliate marketing program, which allowed creators to earn a commission from sales driven by tagged products on Instagram posts. The app instead wants brands and creators to connect via Instagram’s Creator Marketplace, perhaps as a way to streamline and formalize the creator/brand connection process.
“We want to make Instagram the best place for creators to earn a living by partnering with brands,” a spokesperson for Meta, Instagram’s parent company, wrote in an email. “To do this, we are focusing on Instagram’s Creator Marketplace.”
Businesses can still use Instagram to host live shopping events if they also use Instagram’s native checkout. During live shopping events, a host can see when someone purchases an item in real time. And tagged products now disclose more information, such as if the item is an Instagram exclusive, on sale, low in stock, or includes free shipping.
Facebook has introduced few shopping updates this year. On Oct. 1, Facebook users and businesses will no longer be able to host any new or scheduled Live Shopping events. While they will be able to use Facebook Live to host live events, there won’t be any more product tags. Instead, Facebook is pushing businesses to tag products in Reels.
Overall, Facebook seems to have defaulted to using Instagram to answer TikTok. 
“[Reels monetization] is growing quickly, and we see it as an area where there is significant potential for growth in the future,” Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said during the company’s second-quarter results. “It’s going to take time, but we have a playbook from our experience with Stories. Our focus right now with Reels is ramping up ad load, improving performance and making sure the ads are easy for advertisers to create.”
Meta seems to have its eye on Twitch these days instead. A leaked pitch deck shows the company is testing Super, a livestream platform.
Not to miss out on the social shopping bandwagon, Twitter in March introduced Twitter Shops, which gave merchants a “View Shop” tab that lets them upload up to 50 products. The platform also rolled out product drops, which lets users hit a “Remind Me” button for when that latest Fossil bag, for example, will be released.
In June, Twitter announced an integration with Shopify, allowing merchants to connect their Twitter account to their Shopify store, automatically updating products and inventory.

Of course, Twitter currently has its hands full with the Elon Musk saga.
TikTok hasn’t released many new shopping features in the U.S. since its TikTok World summit last year, where it announced merchant partner integrations, dynamic ads, product links, and live shopping. However, the app is rethinking its live shopping pilot in the U.K., after reports that creators dropped out of the program, according to the Financial Times. The app has also been testing a Shop tab pilot in Indonesia.
Snapchat has been looking to make it easier for other platforms to get into augmented reality. During its Snap Partner Summit in April, the camera company released an AR creation suite. Brands can upload products to become 3D or AR filters in the suite’s asset manager, even using existing product photography. Snap also allows other brands to use its AR tech on their own apps. For example, customers can virtually try-on a pair of shoes in the Puma app.
Snap also has its own shopping discovery with the Dress Up feature, a feed of try-on lenses from brands and creators that lets users save and buy clothes they like. Sticking with the fashion trend, Snap also lets users find similar outfits from their screenshots using the Screenshot feature. Snap acquired Screenshot last year, but as of April, the feature is now available to U.S. iOS users.

Snap recently reported that its average daily active users rose 18.4% to 347 million, but its average revenue per user declined 4.5% to $3.20. CEO Evan Spiegel said that the company’s second-quarter results “do not reflect [Snap’s] ambition.”
In July, YouTube rolled out a couple of new shopping features for creators and merchants. For one, the platform partnered with Shopify to allow creators and merchants to link their Shopify store and YouTube channel. Viewers buying from creators in the U.S. can complete an onsite checkout, without leaving YouTube. Eligible creators can also access live shopping features, like the ability to tag products to a live stream, and manage how products are tagged and appear on their channel.

“On the direct response side, we still think there’s a lot of runway to address commercial intent on YouTube, between video action campaigns and app campaigns and product feeds and new Live Commerce features,” said Philipp Schindler, senior VP and chief business officer at Google said during the company’s recent second quarter results. “We’re testing a number of different things across Live Commerce. We’re excited about the opportunities here, especially to connect brands with creators.”
It’s worth keeping an eye on Pinterest because of two features mentioned at Pinterest Presents in March: Your Shop, a personalized shopping page, and native checkout. Both features are currently in beta for U.S. users and select U.S. Shopify merchants.

During its recent second quarter call, Pinterest reported slower total revenue growth and a declining user base. And yet, revenue from its shoppable ads is growing twice as fast as overall revenue, and average revenue per user is up 17% globally.
In this article:
Erika Wheless is a technology reporter covering social media platforms, influencers, and esports. She was previously the e-commerce reporter for Digiday, and is a graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.


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