How to Monetize Social Media With Visual AI

Visual content forms powerful connections on social media. Learn how to transform those connections into conversions.

Over the past 15 years, social media has evolved into a powerful platform that can influence and change consumer behavior. Combined with rapid technological advancements, it’s become a sales channel in its own right – pushing the retail industry into transformation. With the right digital strategies in place, retailers now have massive opportunities to better understand consumers, deliver meaningful engagements, introduce improved products, and boost conversion rates and sales.

In this post, we’ll look at social media usage today and how it relates to the modern online shopping experience. Then we’ll share three tried and true strategies for monetizing social media with visual AI-based technologies. Let’s jump in! 

Social Media Usage: Then & Now 

The Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in the United States in 2005. At that time, only 5% of U.S. adults reported using at least one social media site. As of 2021, the data shows a colossal jump in use to 72% of the average adult population. 

Not surprisingly, adults under 30 reported the highest usage of various social media platforms with 84% saying they use at least one social media site. One statistic, however, that may shock readers relates to senior citizens – nearly half of those aged 65 and up are active on at least one social media platform. Here’s the full picture by age range: 

Among the different social media platforms out there, YouTube and Facebook continue to dominate the online landscape. According to Pew, 81% of U.S. adults use YouTube and 54% of those people visit it daily. Next up is Facebook, which is used by 69% of adult Americans – 70% of whom visit the site daily and 49% say they use the site more than once a day. The next three most popular platforms are Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, which are used by 40%, 31%, and 28% of U.S. adults, respectively. 

Consumers and the Social Shopping Experience

Besides networking and mindless scrolling, the use of social media to find inspiration and shop products is becoming a norm for consumers of all ages. In a recent survey, 66% of shoppers aged 18-29 said they are likely to trust product or service recommendations shared via social media posts from friends, family, and influencers. This holds true for 61% of consumers aged 30-44, 60% of those aged 45-60, and 53% over 60. A much smaller, yet significant, amount of consumers – 38% – say they trust branded product recommendations from retailers on social media. 

Altogether, this data proves just how powerful an influence social media can have in connecting products and services to consumers navigating the modern shopping journey. It also highlights the unique opportunity that brands have today to monetize social media, especially with the built-in purchasing options that now exist on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. For example, 68% of consumers made at least one purchase directly from social media in 2021 and one in three users will make a purchase this year through Facebook Shops. Even if they’re not shopping directly through a social site, 87% of online shoppers say they use social media to help them decide what to purchase. 

How to Monetize Social Media: The Power of Visuals

As consumers choose to follow their own digitally augmented and social media-influenced path, retailers not only have to master social media but also set up the right tools that support the shopping journey so they can monetize social media too.

Research shows that 87.6% of consumers consider product photos to be the key element of the shopping experience. This translates across social media platforms with the presence and power of visuals. From images and GIFs, to short clips and long-form videos, visual content produces 650% higher engagement than text-only posts and is 40 times more likely to be shared than other types of content. 

Visual content is more memorable too. According to Jerome Bruner, educational psychologist from New York University, people only remember 10% of what they hear, 30% of what they read, but 80% of what they see. This makes good visual content extremely valuable and important for the success of online retail. 

In fact, 50% of online shoppers say images have helped them decide what to buy. So, how can brands and retailers leverage social media and visual search to help shoppers find exactly what they are looking for? Here are three strategies for success: 

1. Add user-generated social media content to promote products

Make connections with current and future customers by adding a social element to your product pages. Putting up user-generated content enhances the spirit of community within and beyond your brand, letting customers not only add a more personal touch but also stimulating conversations and engagement with fellow shoppers.

With visual-based recommendation engines, you can improve individual product pages with user-generated content from social media. Besides tapping into customers’ social nature, it also provides social proof by showing that people are indeed buying and using your products.

Moreover, customers who post products and tag brands on social media almost always want to be recognized. They are likely more than happy to share thoughts about your products and recommend your brand, especially if they have a positive online shopping experience.

Consumers go to social media not only to find inspiration but also to look at the latest trends. As one of the most popular ways to view what’s hot and what’s not, it’s become extremely important to monitor social media to stay up to date with consumer behavior. 

At the same time, you can use your own AI-generated product tags to see which items and features are getting the most engagement on your website. By knowing which products customers are searching for or interacting with on your website and on social media, you can leverage real-time inventory updates across channels—both online and offline. You can also achieve more accurate demand forecasting with these analytics. 

3. Prepare your website or app for product discovery

Having established that consumers go to social media before and during the shopping journey, it is then critical that your website or app is ready to deliver accurate search results and product recommendations in order for users to continue their buying journey on your site.

If you want to truly monetize social media, it’s important to offer visual AI-based solutions such as a camera search button and a backend deep tagging system that can ensure a seamless and delightful shopping experience.

The Right Technology Partner Makes All the Difference

Digital-savvy shoppers value convenience and relevance, and they are willing to pay more to get that kind of experience. Revamping your website or app with visual search guarantees a better UX that will result in a higher conversion rate with more repeat and spontaneous purchases.  

Signet Jewelers, Decathlon, Falabella, Baycrew’s, and Coleman Furniture  are just some of the 100+ retailers worldwide that have partnered with Syte in order to delight their customers with better product discovery and seamless shopping experiences based on visual AI technology. To learn more, contact us to see how Syte makes that possible.