The year 2015 saw major developments in the realm of social media, including e-commerce improvements (via the addition of new buy buttons and expanded ad programs) on such sites as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Although social media still drives only a small fraction of retail sales, it still continues to have a major impact on business, with social shopping earning $3.3 billion for the top 500 retailers in 2014, a 26 percent increase over 2013 (according to the Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500 report). In fact, to date social commerce generates bigger increases in retail traffic than any other online channel. And analysts are predicting an even bigger jump for 2016. Here are some platforms small businesses should keep an eye on for the coming year.


Instagram continues to be one of the most popular social media platforms around, and its ads and tools offer a great opportunity for small businesses to connect with a highly engaged audience and direct them to relevant product pages. The new Instagram partner program for business and the Instagram store allow businesses to integrate their content with images and inspirational posts, and gives the consumer an opportunity to purchase the products seen in those posts. Even those businesses without products can benefit, as the image-centric nature of the social media forum is excellent for building brand awareness and for customer outreach efforts.


In the world of social media marketing, Pinterest is a rising star among small businesses and startups and retail giants alike. In fact, as of October 2015 Pinterest featured more than 60 million e-commerce pins, and the company has announced plans to expand its buy button program to make it easy for companies to add the button to their pins and capture sales. In addition, Pinterest is fully integrated with Shopify and Demandware. The average user order on Pinterest is $123.50, which (according to a 2014 study by Javelin Strategy & Research) is 126 percent larger than the average order of Facebook users (at $54.64).


Facebook has just rolled out a new consumer targeting program that enables businesses to focus on those users who are highly active in shopping online, and is partnering with Instagram in this targeting initiative. The new audience segmentation can be accessed through Facebook’s self-service ad dashboard.


Hughes, Brian. Will 2016 Be the Year for Social Commerce? Small Business Trends. 12/2/15. (12/4/15.)

Smith, Cooper. It’s Time for Retailers to Start Paying Close Attention to Social Media. Business Insider. 6/30/15. (12/4/15).