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111. How Consumers Use Social Media to Make Buying Decisions + What it Means for eCommerce Brands 

111. How Consumers Use Social Media to Make Buying Decisions + What it Means for eCommerce Brands 

Ever wondered if all that time, energy, and effort you’re putting into your social media is worth it for your eCommerce business? I mean… we all know it’s important to some degree, we keep doing it right? But how often do you ask yourself if it even has any impact on your customer’s buying decisions?

This week we’re taking a deep dive into the results of a social media study that looked at how consumers use social media to shop and what platforms they interact with at each step in their buying journey. We break down how you can use these results to leverage social media for your eCommerce business and what content you should create for each platform. 

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When I was rounding up content for a recent newsletter, I came across this study done with 14k consumers who shared how social media influences their purchasing decisions and what platforms they interact with at each step in their buying journey. 

I did share the article in the March 8th newsletter, which by the way if. you’re not on the list yet – head here to sign up! 

For today’s episode, I wanted to point out some of the high-level aha moments and how you can use this data to influence your social media marketing strategy. 

From scrolling to shopping: A look at social commerce in 2022

How do people behave on social media?

The study is based on the response of 14k global customers, so it’s a pretty good sample size. Of that 14k, 76% of them said that they are influenced to shop via social media, so if you were doubting whether or not social media is an important part of the customer journey, now you know. 

More importantly, if we want to understand how we can leverage social media for our eCommerce business, we need to understand HOW customers use social media to shop. 

The 7 main behaviors the study focused on:

  • using social for shopping inspiration
  • stumbling across something in our feed or stories
  • shopping from influencer recommendations or links
  • shopping from brands they follow
  • shopping from recommendations from friends and family
  • actively looking for products to buy on social media
  • and then using social media for information gathering. 

The statistics on these range from 38%-65% saying YES. The lowest being actively looking for products to buy and the highest saying they use social media for shopping inspiration. 

So what does this tell us?

Well, it solidifies something we kind of already knew — the fact that when we are posting on social media and asking people to buy our shit, we are interrupting their native behavior. Sure, they’re happy to shop when they find a product that is the right fit but we can’t expect that they’re going to take action every time we share our products. 

Just because we don’t see the direct ROI from social, doesn’t mean there isn’t value in continuing to show up. The trick is to take what we know and what we’re learning from this study and apply it to our strategy, which we’re definitely going to talk about but first let’s cover a few more statistics. 

Which platforms are consumers using for which shopping behavior

Here we’re looking at 5 main behaviors: 

  • Shopping inspiration
  • Stumbling across something in the feed
  • Information gathering
  • Recommendations from friends and family
  • Paid influencer recommendations

They broke each of these down over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest. 


So how did this shake out?

  • When it comes to shopping inspiration, no surprise, that happens on all 6 platforms. 
  • Stumbling across something in their feed happens on all platforms except for YouTube, which makes sense. 
  • Information gathering shows up on all platforms except for Facebook. 
  • Recommendations from friends and family only happen on Facebook. 
  • Paid influencer recommendations only on YouTube. 

Although I’m a little weary of that last statement, my gut is telling me that paid influencer recommendations on Instagram are likely also powerful, but if you think about the experience on YouTube and the life of content there, it does make sense that it would win out. 

Which industries and people dominate on social media? 

Beauty and apparel are the clear front runners with home and health and wellness next in line. Consider your industry when you decide how much effort you want to put into social selling vs. in-person markets or wholesale. 

Subject matter experts are also more influential than social media stars or celebrities.

Lastly, 53% of respondents said they have tried shopping via a live stream event. 

My high-level takeaways from the study

  1. Industry matters when it comes to making buying decisions online and depending on what industry you’re in you may want to lean into other channels more than social for better ROI
  2. Consumers are more likely to purchase something on social if it’s recommended by a subject matter expert vs. just a celebrity. 
  3. Different social media platforms serve different purposes and we should adapt our content and pick our partners wisely to better line up with these customer behaviors. 

Example social media marketing + content strategy 

This example is going to be for a makeup brand, which of course won’t apply to all of you – but it’s one of the most robust that I think will serve as a good starting point that you can adjust for your own business. 

For this exercise, we’re going to use all platforms (except for Twitter) though you DO NOT—I repeat… you DO NOT—have to use all the platforms in your business. I want to cover them all so you can see how you might use them in your business. 

I am not an expert on all social media platforms so make sure you do a bit of your own due diligence, research, and testing when you’re implementing your own strategy. 

The reason I’m not using Twitter in this example is because it’s not my jam, but from my research, I can tell you, Twitter dominates in terms of news and information, so if you’re in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving, or is something that is super innovative, maybe it's a good space for you. Especially with Twitter communities and spaces. 

Plus, they have been testing new shopping features on the app like shopping from a post and even live sales, and while I don’t think it’s available to all businesses yet if your customer is there, you may want to keep your eye out. 

How to use each social platform for a makeup business, based on what we learned from this study

Let’s start with the personality or the face of the brand. We do know that in terms of influencers, subject matter experts have the most influence over our purchasing decisions. If you as the founder are not the subject matter expert or don’t want to be the face of the business then the first thing we need is to find other subject matter experts. This could be in the form of partnerships with beauty bloggers or brand ambassadors, or even bringing in a makeup artist you can be your in-house content creator. 

What type of content do you need to create?

Now that we have our subject matter expert, let’s talk about the type of content we would likely want to create.

The obvious for a makeup brand is tutorial videos. This can take a few different forms. For instance, you can be technique specific like getting the perfect cat eye, properly prepping your skin for makeup application, or finding your foundation shade match.

You can even build on that foundation match idea by going deeper into the basics of how to determine your skin's undertone, which leads into picking the right eyeshadow colors, blush colors, lipstick, etc. 

You can build on the cat-eye topic too, maybe you break it out into multiple videos depending on the person’s eye shape.

Or, you can zoom out a bit and do general look tutorials like, date night, seasonal looks, Halloween makeup inspiration, etc.

You can also do comparisons of your own product line. So if you have multiple different mascaras, do a deep dive video where you compare the products, what they do, and who they’re good for. 

You might also want to do a tool comparison, so if you have a foundation, show the different application techniques… fingers vs. foundation brush vs. sponge for example. 

You’ll also want to think about what are the most common questions people have about your product? Maybe you do a deep dive or Q&A on a specific product in your line. 

You get the idea though right? There are tons of different ways that you can slice and dice this content. 

What this content looks like on each of the social channels

Keep in mind how consumers behave on these different channels and how they find information. We’ll also want to keep in mind how we would take the topic or content piece and transform it to fit the platform that we’re sharing it on. 

For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to use the cat eye tutorial as an example so you can see how it would break down over the different channels. 

YouTube and Pinterest 

These are both search engines. We already know that people go to these channels for shopping inspiration and information gathering. And if you think of how most people discover content on these platforms, it's by searching for something specific. 

For instance, maybe they’re searching for how to get the perfect cat eye

On YouTube, maybe you have your own channel and tutorial video where you walk the person through the steps to creating the perfect cat eye and you’re also talking about why your product is the best for it. Maybe it’s because of the way the product applies, the ergonomics of the product’s handle, whatever it is that makes your tool the best. 

But how would that look on Pinterest? Pinterest is still an image-driven platform, so you can take photos for each step of your tutorial and put them in one collage image for Pinterest. Which you can link either to the full YouTube tutorial, or better yet a version of the video on your website. 

Then, in the description of the YouTube video, the Pinterest pin, and in the blog post, you’re going to list out the products you used in the tutorial video. 

If you want to take it a step further, maybe you partner with a YouTube beauty blogger and do a sponsored video with them where they do the tutorial and use your product. Now you’re touching the paid influencer recommendations on YouTube along with the information gathering and shopping inspiration for YouTube and Pinterest. 

Facebook and Facebook Groups

In this day and age, the best way to use Facebook for your eCommerce business is with a Facebook group. I talk more about this on episode 29 of the podcast, so check that out if you’re interested, but you could create an interest-based FB group for makeup lovers and do the tutorial live in the group and then sell the products you used during that live video. 

If you have multiple different eyeliners, the group is also a great place to do the deep dive comparing the items that we talked about earlier. 

If you want to get really fancy, you could even hold a drawing for 2-3 people in the group to be able to get on the video with you and get a personalized tutorial from either live in the group or on a private virtual meeting. 

Maybe you encourage sharing of your brand and product in order for them to qualify so that you can feed the natural friends and family recommendations on Facebook. 


I’m not sure if it’s available yet, but recently TikTok announced that you will be able to upload videos as long as 10 minutes onto the platform. I don’t think anyone is sure yet how well they will perform, but you could probably do a full tutorial in 10 minutes. You could always test that out while also sharing a sped-up version of your tutorial. Or you could just do some before and after transitions to pique people’s interest.


You can of course do a sped-up tutorial as a reel, you could do the full tutorial in a live format, or you might even take a hint from Pinterest and put each step of the tutorial on a separate image and upload it as a carousel. 

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from all of this is that the main shopping behavior that people have on social media is for research and inspiration. 

So even when you’re not doing a tutorial, doing a video just walking people through what’s new to your product line or available in your store is a really great way to get them engaged and excited about what you offer. 

How do you get people to engage with you off of your social channels and onto your email list or your website? 

This is the real trick. If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode with the CEO of ManyChat, you should definitely check that out here. He shared some awesome ideas on how you can use your social media engagement to grow your email list using automation which would be the perfect complement to what we’re talking about here. 

Sticking with the eyeliner and cat-eye example, using a tool like ManyChat, you could have a call to action in your tutorial video on Instagram that says, DM me the fire emoji to get a coupon to try the eyeliner you’re featuring in the video. Then you can have an automated message to the user for them to sign up for your email or SMS list to get the coupon. It’s a pretty nifty tool and 100% compliant with Instagram.

Think your social media strategy through 

Ultimately, when it comes to social media, we spend so much time, energy, and effort into creating so much damn content – and so I want to make sure you’re really taking the time to think it all through to be strategic and to make sure that you’re taking that next step so you can see actual ROI from all of your efforts. 

And here’s the thing… not a lot of brands are doing this well, so if you’re the 1% that goes all in, there’s really no reason why you can’t be successful. 

Listen to the Episode

Episodes Mentioned

Facebook Groups for eCommerce Businesses

How to Grow Your Email List with Instagram Automation

Links Mentioned

ManyChat Automated Chat Marketing Platform


Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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