Here we go again - another digital media catchphrase is entering our social lexicon. “Community commerce” is the newest term being slung by Gen Z-fuelled platforms (cough...TikTok), and while it calls to mind the idea of influencer marketing, it carries connotations that differentiate it from the mid-to-late-2010s Instagram #sponsoredpost craze. Gone are the days where all the purchasing power lies in a single Kardashian-Jenner post - now, with the rise of micro-influencers, not to mention the growing audiences consuming their content, it’s the power of the many that sway consumer behaviour. Often everyday people, as opposed to aspirational and increasingly out-of-touch internet celebrities, TikTok users all around the world are capturing hearts and minds with their relatability, frank attitudes and transparency. It’s a new age of social media marketing.
With consumers also savvier than ever when it comes to advertising tactics, the authenticity and native integration of our marketing efforts have never been so important. Community Commerce is, in essence, all about digitally translating what we would traditionally consider being word-of-mouth. Perhaps social video platform TikTok themselves put it best, saying that “Community Commerce specifically speaks to the notion of entertaining, compelling content that just happens to feature brands”. It’s not just an ad - it’s a story-driven piece of content that fits comfortably within its context, and makes sense in its environment. It plays by the rules of TikTok’s favoured approaches and blends in easily with regular posts. It just also happens to favourably feature a brand in a way that doesn’t feel obvious or forced - just genuinely reflective of the creator’s experience.
So, why is this important, and why should you care? 2022 will no doubt bring with it a slew of new social media trends and tools, but the power of authenticity in marketing will never go out of style. As consumers have matured over the course of the pandemic, so have their buying behaviours and expectations for brands, and it’s up to businesses to keep up as well. This is inclusive, of course, of the way they communicate to their customers.
The fast-paced nature of TikTok’s user behaviour means that the marketing funnel we all know and love is commonly replaced by what TikTok refers to as the “flywheel” - “a continuous loop of awareness, consideration, and conversion that happens in the TikTok environment.” Due to the constant nature of TikTok’s interface feeding users with engaging content, audiences are able to tap, make purchases or sign ups, and re-enter their feed seamlessly in a way that ensures their buying experience is native to their experience of the app itself. The conversation continues after the purchase as users continue to view and engage with more content, allowing brand communities to grow and customer loyalty to flourish.
This new style of social video content is one that brings with it much higher engagement rates, crucial for growing brand awareness and online conversation around your products or services - not to mention much more effortless and time-effective for creators to produce (remember, the authenticity of Community Commerce means no extra hours airbrushing, copywriting and perfectly planning a meticulously-produced post).
If there’s one thing to take away from the emergence of Community Commerce, it’s to rethink the way we position our brands through social media and what relationship we have with influencer marketing. Is it enough just to pay out one Instagram star an absurd amount of money to make a single post that a fraction of their followers will see, or will 2022 be the year a more nuanced approach in seeding our marketing into social media proves to be the new way forward?