Beginners Guide to Live Shopping for Marketers

Image showing a red dress with black polkadots inside a phone, on a bright green background. Blog post on live shopping for brands.
Image showing a red dress with black polkadots inside a phone, on a bright green background. Blog post on live shopping for brands.

In 2022 we, along with many others, predicted that live shopping would be a major marketing trend. While livestream shopping didn’t take off the way a lot of people thought it would, it’s not something to discount as a marketing channel just yet — not by a long shot. In fact, it’s just getting started.

In 2022, Statista reported that live commerce sales reached an estimated 17 billion. That may sound modest, but remember, 2022 was basically the starter year for live shopping reaching a wider audience. Statista predicts that by the year 2026, sales will skyrocket to 55 billion. A 223% increase!

But what exactly is live shopping and why should brands care? We’ll cover everything you need to know in today’s blog!

Contents

What is Live Shopping?

Camera set up for a live shopping stream in a living room set

Live shopping, or social live shopping, is a form of social commerce where creators or companies host livestreams on social media to promote products. Viewers of these livestreams can purchase in real time, while having their questions answered and seeing the product in use before making that final credit card entry. It’s essentially a new, and far less hokey, form of QVC and other at-home shopping programs.

Why Use Live Streaming Shopping?

Woman holding several shopping bags. Real time purchases is a top reason to use livestream shopping.

Although it hasn’t been as explosive an adoption from consumers as marketers may have expected, there are plenty of reasons to jump on the livestream shopping bandwagon.

Here are some key reasons that marketers should consider it:

Immersive & immediate experience

Live streaming is immersive and immediate — you can provide your audience with a 360 degree kind of experience. Demonstrating products, providing behind-the-scenes glimpses of a workspace or how things come together, inspiring interest in consumers. They can, in turn, ask questions or leave comments, generating conversation around the products.

And the cherry on top of this brand equity you’re building is that it’s not the bottom line. Instead of having to depend on viewers to jot down what they like for purchasing later, you can tap into their immediate enthusiasm and encourage purchases in the moment.

Smaller audiences

It may seem like a negative, but you can use the fact that live shopping hasn’t taken off to establish a cohort of super fans.

You might even get to know the screen-names of people who show up regularly in your lives. When you recognize them you can give them a special shoutout. This recognition may in turn encourage others to tune in more often — and share how much they love your brand with their friends and family.

New customers

A live shopping event can help you attract new customers, who might not be familiar with your brand if you typically only sell through a website, or in-store. This is especially key for more established businesses who are perhaps trying to break into younger markets.

What Social Media Platforms Offer Live Streaming Shopping?

Person looking at a phone with a cup of coffee and books. You can tune-in to live shopping streams from multiple different social media platforms.

Shopping live on social media could be the future of e-commerce and should therefore be a part of your social media marketing efforts. Almost every major social media platform offers some form of live shopping, and we’re sure to see them continue to hone these features in the coming months, let alone years.

1. Instagram live shopping

Live shopping has been available on Instagram since 2022.

Influencers and brands can host a livestream on Instagram that includes direct purchase links. These live shopping streams are often used to demonstrate products or make announcements such as ticket pre-sale. To encourage Instagram live shopping, promoters may offer a discount code or early access — rewarding those who tune in.

Multiple hosts can run a live shopping stream on Instagram, making this an ideal avenue for influencer partnerships.

Instagram live shopping allows hosts to intercut the video with still photos and pre-shot video, which can be a great way to keep people engaged instead of dropping off. Like posting to your Instagram Stories, you can also save lives to your Highlights row.

Tip: These resources will help you become successful on Instagram: The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Marketing (Download), How To Be Successful With Instagram Marketing, How to Use Instagram Ads — A Guide for Marketers, How to Get Verified on Instagram, Guide to Instagram Profile Pictures, Current Instagram Trends to Watch, How To Get More Instagram Followers, How to Use Instagram for Business

2. Pinterest live shopping

Pinterest approaches live shopping a bit differently.

In 2021 they launched “Pinterest TV”, which showcases a wide range of brands and influencers, one at a time — essentially giving them each their own TV spot.

There is a schedule posted for when each spot will air and viewers can tune in for deals, new releases, and of course demonstrations of certain products

Viewers who miss the lives have the opportunity to watch episodes after they’ve aired, and can still purchase the products featured.

The format for Pinterest TV is great for influencers who are looking to expand their networks, given that they can advertise their appearances in advance, encouraging people to tune in.

3. YouTube live shopping

While most livestreaming features have a max time limit, on YouTube you can stream for up to 10 hours.

Institutions and public figures often use this capability to host fundraisers, or allow viewers to send donations — like this Live Otter Cam from the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

In 2022, YouTube partnered with Shopify to facilitate a smoother experience for viewers when live shopping on YouTube. The integration also expands live shopping functionality to more creators, so keep an eye out for new ‘merch drops from your favorite YouTubers!

Like Pinterest, YouTube is also experimenting with live shopping events in partnership with influencers on the platform. In 2022, they launched their 2nd annual BeautyFest, a live shopping extravaganza where popular beauty influencers provide tutorials and product promotions, in partnership with several top-tier beauty brands. Celebrities like Tracee Ellis Ross, Gwen Stefani, and others also joined in the festivities.

Tip: These resources will help you become successful on YouTube: The Ultimate Guide to YouTube Marketing (Download), Getting Started With YouTube Marketing, How to Create and Manage a YouTube Channel, YouTube SEO Tips: How to Optimize Your Videos for Search, A Starter Guide to Advertising on YouTube, 10 Tips to Grow Subscribers on YouTube (The Organic Way)

4. TikTok live shopping

Live shopping has taken off with considerably more oomph in countries outside the US. This has created a unique problem for TikTok, whose parent company Douyin is gaining great traction with live shopping in China and other Asian countries

TikTok is currently testing live shopping in western markets, with moderate success. As of October 2022, they are still in the early stages of implementation, partnering with TalkShopLive to help develop the functionality.

It puts TikTok in an unfamiliar position, as the entertainment platform has dominated in so many other areas — with Instagram basically copying its every move in 2022. So the fact that Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and others have live shopping means the platform has stiff competition.

Tip: These resources will help you become successful on TikTok: What Is TikTok And How Did It Become So Successful?, How To Use TikTok For Business, The Best TikTok Scheduling Tools, How To Get Verified on TikTok — Get the Blue Tick

5. Facebook live shopping

Facebook premiered live shopping in 2018, making it an early innovator in this niche.

The nice thing about setting up a live shopping stream on Facebook is that you can shoot in a mobile view or a desktop view. So if you know your audience is mostly mobile users or desktop users you can cater your live shopping content to them.  

It is important to note that in August 2022, it was reported that Facebook would be shutting down their live shopping functionality and features by October 1st (The live shopping education site for Facebook is still active, however).

Tip: These resources will help you become successful on Facebook: Facebook Marketing Tips To Make Your Brand Successful, A Guide to Creating a Facebook Business Page, How to Leverage Facebook Recommendations for Your Business, How to Use Facebook Lead Generation Ads, How To Sell on Facebook Marketplace

Live Shopping Best Practices

Closeup of a tablet and a smartphone on a table near an external microphone.

Ready to get your live shopping channels up and running? Follow these best practices for a smooth livestream and to increase conversions!

Invite questions

Part of the joy of livestreaming is the ability to answer questions on the spot.

Announce your livestream in advance so that your followers can submit questions.

This is useful in two ways:

  1. You can prep answers beforehand.
  2. You’ll be able to understand consumer pain points at-a-glance, especially if numerous people ask the same question.

Use teasers & incentives

Entice people to join your live shopping stream with teasers and incentives. These can take many forms, but here’s some suggestions:

  • A special guest
  • Discount codes
  • Steam-only gifts (ie swag or freebies, first-come, first-serve)
  • An announcement at the end of the stream (to encourage people to stay until the end)
  • Product unveiling

Troubleshoot before going live

Nothing slows down a livestream like lagging internet and bad lighting or sound.

Do a test run wherever you’re planning to have your stream to get most errors and glitches solved.

Because live is live, there will always be things that happen on the day — it’s just the nature of live video — but if you have a plan in place to address unexpected issues, your live stream will go much smoother.

Have a loose structure planned

Have a general idea of the format for your live shopping event. Particularly if you’re demonstrating products, make sure you have a script and all the camera angles you want planned out ahead of time. If you’re planning on inserting any pre-shot content make sure you have this queued up and ready to go.

Curious how Meltwater can help you with your social media engagement, live streaming, and influencer partnerships? Fill out the form below to schedule a 15-minute demo.

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