Social commerce: A storytelling revolution

Social media has become more than a place to connect with friends. It’s become a powerful engine for product discovery and purchase, fundamentally redefining how we shop. This trend, dubbed “social commerce”, has seen steady growth in recent years, especially in China - where 84% of consumers have purchased something through social media (Statista).

With that in mind, how can brands deliver a truly exceptional customer experience (CX)?  

This is where authentic storytelling comes into play: the one timeless tool that holds true. A compelling and authentic narrative can capture attention, tap into emotions, establish trust and showcase the real people behind the brand. Together, they create a memorable brand experience, the cornerstone of outstanding CX. Customers don’t only see the products. They connect with the story and the people behind them, fostering a loyalty that transcends monetary transactions.    

Short-form videos: A captivating canvas

Short-form videos have become a game-changer in social commerce. The lighthearted and bite-sized content provides a platform for brands to display their authenticity and craft captivating stories. Luxury brands, once reserved for glossy magazines and high-end boutiques, are now setting their sights on Douyin (China’s TikTok). By shedding their traditional image, luxury brands embrace a more casual tone to tap into the younger audience.

The proof is in the pudding. According to a Douyin-sponsored whitepaper, luxury brands’ short-form videos on Douyin raked up 11 billion views in the first half of 2023 alone. Similarly, the value of luxury goods sold through Douyin skyrocketed by 623% during that period.

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Loewe, the Spanish fashion house, redefines storytelling with a sensorial essence. Their mesmerizing ASMR videos transport viewers on a sensory journey, showcasing the meticulous craftsmanship behind their iconic fashion items. However, these aren’t just marketing pitches. By focusing on the sights and sounds of creation, audiences are pulled and immersed into the rich heritage and legacy of the Loewe brand.

KOCs: The authentic voice

Social commerce is more than big brands with big budgets. Enter Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) or micro-influencers – everyday consumers who seamlessly blend product promotion into their daily lives for an organic feel. Unlike celebrities, they have smaller but highly engaged followings – a few hundred loyal fans who trust their recommendations.

What makes KOCs special is their authenticity. They’re relatable – juggling careers, families, and everyday struggles just like us. This down-to-earth quality cultivates a sense of community and trust that traditional advertising can’t match.  

RED, the lifestyle platform boasting 200 million monthly active users, is setting the pace in this area. Unlike other platforms, RED empowers lesser-known creators by promoting their content. Thanks to its unique algorithm, even posts from users with a small following can go viral overnight, reaching millions.

Quiet selling: The power of emotional connection

Perhaps the most intriguing trend in social commerce is the rise of “quiet selling.” This approach moves away from the loud, fast-paced style of traditional live streaming and embraces a more contemplative, story-driven method.

A perfect example of quiet selling is singer Annie Yi’s debut live stream on RED. With a soothing demeanour, she captivated viewers for 9 hours by sharing personal stories of her struggles and triumphs, interwoven with gentle product recommendations. By sharing her vulnerabilities and experiences, she created a space where viewers felt not just like they were watching a commercial but connecting with a real person.  

For instance, she didn’t just talk about scents when introducing candles. She got personal. “Scented candles are more than just fragrance for me,” she said. “Every day, the sound of the match lighting creates a cozy haven for my daughter, just like the comfort I yearned for when my mom wasn’t there. It’s a strange sense of peace, that sound. It takes me back to when I was like the little match girl, helping my family pay off debts. But even then, there was a flicker of light within me, a hope that helped me rewrite my story.”

Throughout the 9-hour stream, she recommended 120 products, from cosmetics and skin care to nutritional supplements. Her heartfelt storytelling resonated with viewers – the livestream attracted over 1 million viewers and generated nearly $6.8 million in sales. She also topped the live-streaming sales chart on RED for the day.  

In a world overflowing with content, stories that tap into human emotion are the ones that will rise above the noise and truly connect with audiences. These stories don’t just sell products, they craft a memorable brand experience. Customers become invested in the narrative, forming a connection with the people and the purpose behind the brand. As social commerce continues to evolve, one thing remains certain – the power of storytelling is what truly moves the needle.