There is no mistaking just how much the last year has shaped all of us and we have had no choice but to adapt and evolve at speed. For brands, connecting with their audience has never been so important, especially in what has been a predominantly virtual world. This is why being a disruptor brand is crucial amongst all the noise but understanding just how to be one is key. Social commerce has dominated the last year and for the brands that are not utilising this space to the best of its abilities, there is a high chance they will find themselves getting left behind.
We got to interview one of the co- founders of Deft, Niran Vinod. Deft is a creative consultancy for social commerce that is committed to unlocking new revenue from social commerce, by supercharging creative and media, using machine learning. Niran and Ian, made the bold decisions to leave Instagram and Facebook and launch Deft in October 2020 in the thick of the pandemic. Niran was confident that he and his co-founder had found a gap in the market that was too good to ignore. We were lucky to interview Niran and pick his brains on the power of social commerce and uncover just why it is so important.
Hi Niran, great to have you join us today. Social commerce has been a huge topic of conversation amongst brands as they look towards maximising their strategy. Can you tell us about the importance of social commerce and why it is so powerful in consolidating future success?
Social platforms are ultimately becoming the digital shopping mall. With that in mind, all brands need to learn the strategies and tactics for how people can discover their brands, interact with them and most importantly directly purchase their products on social media.
Lockdown certainly accelerated the importance of social commerce within businesses, with businesses fast tracking their pivot to ecommerce to ensure that they would survive. Whilst we were in lockdown people started missing the in-store experiences and brands certainly missed implementing those more bespoke activations, which you could do offline, but were trying to understand how that experience could exist online. A big question was, how do brands drive consideration to purchase? We started seeing brands experimenting in new ways to create these experiences online and social commerce is that avenue into that world. It is essentially a way of driving more sales but also building brand experience into it. If you look at the ecommerce increase, specifically the UK there has been a 48% increase in ecommerce sales in 2020 alone. I think it is fair to say that that number is only going to get higher.
One way to look at it, is social commerce is the shop window and your website is the shop itself. The goal is to get your consumers' attention and drive them to your website, or better yet, finish the transaction directly through a social platform as end-to-end purchasing becomes available.
Very interesting, so how do Deft work with brands to drive their business results?
We have collaborative workshop sessions with our clients, especially the ones with inhouse marketing and creative teams. We have a whole range of products and approaches subject to the clients business need and priorities. For example we work with Snug, aD2C disruptor brand; they sell sofas. They were keen to do a live commerce activation for the launch of their new corner unit back in March.
We brainstormed with their team understanding what their needs were and came up with a concept. This then manifested into an Instagram live which lasted an hour. There was a gamified mechanic where you could win a prize at the end of it. What we did was come up with what the pre live looked like, during and post the event. Pre was building the excitement through email, organic social and paid media. We had talent in the form of creatives, such as Troy the Magician and Stewart Sandeman to ensure it was experiential. We had 10,000 registrations and 3,000+ people watching the live. We ensured that the Instagram live was super engaging, with Stewart and Troy interacting throughout the Instagram live to ensure viewers were engaged. At the end of the live, we gave away a free corner unit at the end. Post live we took content from the live and remarketed it. It led to Snug’s biggest sale day and their biggest website traffic day.
There is a lot of buzz around creator led campaigns. Why do audiences connect with creator led campaigns?
Creators and influencers have such an engaged audience. Brands love using creators, primarily because when you engage with a creator that has a similar viewpoint and shares the same values and there is a level of authenticity in the partnership you can reach their audience organically without it feeling like it is an ad. Where creators have a unique viewpoint is they can bring their own creativity to their campaign. I don’t think creators should be the sole form of outreach but I do think that a part of each campaign, there should be a creator led aspect to it.
Also if you think of social commerce, in the last few months Instagram has announced that creators can have their own shops within their Instagram profiles. This allows creators to incentivise on the platform. I think in the future what will happen instead of having affiliate codes to drive sales, creators will be able to tag products from brands they are associated with. This will allow brands to get more revenue but also enabling the creator to make more income too.
What will happen to brands that don't implement a social commerce strategy?
If I wanted to scare marketers I’d say you’ll get left behind! I guess it’s almost the same way that we thought about digital when it came onto the scene for online shopping. There was a lot of arrogance back then, from your traditional corporates who didn’t want to adapt to the digital landscape. We can now see over ten years later that some of the most iconic high street brands have died and then been bought out by a new age disruptor such as ASOS or Boohoo. Within social commerce, the brands that are being bold and ambitious in this space and are showing that they aren’t afraid to experiment are the ones that are being rewarded.
What are three tip/things that brands should be doing in this space if they aren’t utilising
Have a Tik Tok strategy: Launch your Tik Tok channel and work with creators to define that strategy. It is such an exciting platform and it is the fasted growing platform in the world. To not have a presence there in 2021, is a sure way of getting left behind.
Experiment with social commerce: Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok have all launched shop pages in the last 6 months. They are all driving towards end to end commerce on platform. Keep up to date with these platforms and the innovation and the changes that are coming.
Have a creator strategy: more and more with paid media being affected by the lack of signals and iOs14, changing the way privacy and our targeting is done, expanding and diversifying how you do advertising on platforms. Test a chunk of your ad spend to creators, trial it and see if its effective.
Niran also co-authored "How To: Build It" with Damola Timeyin for Merky Books.