How technology is driving random shopping on social media

How technology is driving random shopping on social media

Shopping is experiencing a revolution. Instead of going to stores and markets to buy the things they need, consumers are ordering whenever and wherever they want. Often the items they buy are products and experiences they didn’t even intend to buy. The phenomenon is called Discovery Commerce and it is changing both the way people shop and the way brands engage with customers.

The engine driving Discovery Commerce is social media. For example, consumers may come across products on their Facebook and Instagram feeds and then buy them with a few taps on their phone. It’s a process that makes shopping an integral part of everyday life and not an occasional activity.

From a consumer perspective, the products they discover online seem to appear magical. In reality, their appearance is the result of a well thought-out branding strategy supported by social media algorithms. As consumers become more and more used This new way of random shopping gives businesses a tremendous opportunity to expand their reach and increase sales.

“Discovery Commerce gives businesses the power to create a real connection with consumers,” said Janelle Estes, chief insights officer for UserTesting, a company that provides businesses with reactions and feedback from customers. “The brands that differentiate in this space create content that feels authentic to individual consumers.”

It’s important to always test your assumptions, as you may be limiting your conversions by making generalizations about your customers.”

Megan Streeter, CMO, prose


A recent survey commissioned by Meta found that three in five online shoppers surveyed say they buy products after encountering them unexpectedly in their content feeds. This widespread consumer acceptance of discovery shopping recently prompted Prose, a Brooklyn-based hair care company, to work with Meta to test the effectiveness of video ads created for specific audiences on Facebook and Instagram Reels. The campaign featured a range of influencers whose unique messages resonated with customers of diverse needs and backgrounds. According to Megan Streeter, Prose’s chief marketing officer, the goal is to “reach consumers through relevant content that brings them closer to something they may not have even thought of.”

The campaign made sense for a company whose entire business model is built around personalization and authenticity. To get just the right hair care products, Prose customers take an online consultation that considers 85 different factors, from age and hair texture to high-tech insights that take into account where you live to protect your hair from moisture and geoaggressors. The Prose team then creates bespoke hair care products that ship directly to consumers.

This clear focus on the consumer resulted in compelling social media content that resonated with people from diverse backgrounds and interests. For example, if you were a 30-year-old woman with red, curly hair, you would likely have encountered a different ad than someone with a different hair type and color. A series of videos featured a self-proclaimed “silver fox,” a man with silky, shoulder-length gray hair, who helped give Prose’s male audience a 30% increase in reach.

After a few weeks, Prose’s cost of acquiring new customers dropped by 23%, while full video views tripled. These results convinced the company of the importance of creating a wide range of ads, and then repeatedly testing and revising them to deliver social media content to consumers who are most likely to respond. The Meta Discovery Commerce system made it easy for Prose to find new customers and strengthen relationships with existing customers.


Prose’s campaign illustrates a fundamental truth of discovery commerce: when brands get their content in front of the right customers at the right time, it can feel like a fluke to those who see the ads. According to Streeter, this is a never-ending process, aided by metas data insights and AI-driven testing and learning.

“It’s important to always test your assumptions because you may be limiting your conversions by making generalizations about your customers,” Streeter says. “The insights we gain from data help us identify which influencers and audiences to reach. And we are able to process this data and make decisions much faster than would be possible with traditional means.”

Customer retention data, AI-driven testing and learning, and the actions brands take in response to customer behavior form the constant feedback loop that drives discovery shopping. The brands that engage in this process not only grow their customer base, but also bring an element of novelty and joy to their customers’ shopping experience.

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