Anyone who is anyone is on some form of social media channel — we’re all engaged consumers and brands know it. Your ecommerce business needs to be present on social media, but you don’t get sales from just being there. How do you make social media work for your brand? Here are 8 tips to get you from ecommerce social novice to social marketing’s best newcomer.
There are more social channels to engage with than ever before, but choosing the right ones for your ecommerce business means really understanding your audience.
Pouring time and effort into covering every corner of the social media map is redundant and won’t do you any favours. Make sure you know where your customers are learning and discovering products, where they’re sharing and talking — and be there. Post relevant and useful content that addresses their problems and be available to answer their questions.
Think outside the box when considering social media activity rather than following the crowd – stand out by being different.
If you’re not sure where your customers hang out online – ask them, do some market research, look at your competitors social spaces, and draw some insights. Run some tests to see what kind of content works on those channels and put effort into creating useful, entertaining social media content that reflects your brand.
If you were only to sell products half the time, and forget about your inventory the other half — you wouldn’t stay profitable for very long. Ecommerce marketers know that creating content is hugely important, but that posting it consistently is just as important.
Decide what consistent means for you and stick to a plan. You might choose to start out posting one piece of Facebook content per week, tweeting twice a day, and using Instagram 4 times a week. Whatever makes sense for you, and is manageable for you long term – stick to it consistently.
You may find your social media efforts attract more engagement than you anticipated and require attention that you don’t have the resource for. If this becomes a reality for you — don’t panic — there are options such as outsourcing some of the content or scheduling using a service like Social Hire. This means you’re always on the ball and engaging with your followers and if you’re a complete newbie to the social media game, these services can be a great help to get you started. There are lots of experts available – make use of them and set yourself up for success!
Posting to ensure your brand is visible to your audience is really important, but just posting for the sake of it shows. Put in the effort and encourage comments and interactions with your content. Encourage your customers to share and engage with content by making use of a variety of formats such as:
Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (Source: HubSpot)
Social posts and brand content are shared more when they evoke an emotional response from audiences. Inspirational stories, hilarious moments, controversy, acts of kindness and the unexpected make people want to share, like and love. Be brave about what you post and make sure that whatever you do, you remain authentic. Being real about what your brand values and represents will help to more credibly tell your story and make your brand memorable.
Dove are a brand that consistently come up with highly engaging and inspirational campaigns via different mediums and they are worth drawing on for inspiration.
Dove created this ‘Selfie’ video in 2014 and the campaign is still making waves. After the campaign aired, Dove created an Instagram hashtag - #BeautyIs and asked women to post pictures of themselves that made them feel confident. The result was incredible, and Dove succeeded in starting a conversation about real beauty — a conversation that’s still going on, and has inspired an incredible number of reposts of personalised messages that Dove marketers hand wrote to participants from the initial campaign.
Whilst you won’t have the budget Dove did for this campaign – their idea was simple enough, and very emotive. If your brand represents something special, something that can change perceptions — think about how you can communicate that. There is so much potential in social media to change the way people think and behave, so be remarkable; there’s no better use for social media.
Integrate your ecommerce site with social advertising to reach customers at research and buying stages.
Gone are the days when users had to leave their social media channels to purchase products; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all offer in-app purchase options such as the Facebook Business ‘Shop’ section. Not yet available outside of the US, Facebook Shop allows businesses to:
Could this be the future of Facebook?
Recently, Instagram teamed up with Shopify to also offer click to buy buttons within the app. Instagram’s growing popularity makes it a great choice for connecting with your users, and as it’s an inherently visual platform, it makes sense that products should be now made available for purchase (much like Pinterest’s product pins).
Stripe Relay integrates your inventory into mobile apps including Twitter. The platform allows you to integrate ‘buy buttons’ into Twitter feeds so that users can purchase directly from tweets.
Mcommerce is coming into its own, and social apps are where revenue is going to come from for ambitious businesses. By integrating with the channels your audience already uses, you provide convenient purchase opportunities and enjoy increased brand awareness.
Image credit: Pexels
Whilst Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest may seem like the most popular social media channels trending now, Whatsapp is silently going about killing the market. Get familiar with Whatsapp broadcast lists — join them and experiment with different ways of using them.
Facebook posts or tweets are seen about 1 in 100 times, but posts on Whatsapp broadcast lists are seen 8 in 100 times. Message groups are far more engaged than some social media channels, and offer a more targeted opportunity with captive audiences.
Whatsapp is growing 100x faster than Twitter, a result of shifting needs and behaviours and a desire for the ‘’Snapchat like’’ privacy and intimacy that social media channels aren’t providing.
If you’re a brand that exists on social media purely to be followed — you may find it doesn't work so well for you.
Make sure you’re actively engaging with your audience and industry thought leaders and influencers and talking, sharing, liking, re-posting or tweeting offering unique commentary. If you don’t care or believe in the channel, then perhaps it’s not right for you — find something you can be involved in and focus your social media energy there.
78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour. (Source: Lithium)
If your ecommerce site has a social media channel, then it has a platform for customers to not only praise you, but to publicly air any grievances. Be switched on and check everything that is posted regularly so you can respond. This is also a good way to spot and report any trolling activity that may be targeting you. Be assertive and in control of your channels at all times.
No sooner than you’ve begun to engage with other brands, thought leaders, influencers and your own customers, that you realise how much time social media actually demands. Luckily there are some great tools that enable you to manage your time by pre-scheduling social media posts. You can even track when your brand is mentioned and receive notification so you don’t ignore people engaging with you — but you’re not spending precious time trawling through multiple feeds every day, trying to be front and centre.
If you’re serious about using social media to build an audience, take a look at some of the apps that allow you to not only schedule and track, but analyse engagement:
You’ve made the effort to make a real go of social media, but is it working for you? There’s only one way to find out, and that is to measure and analyse all your activity. It may sound daunting, but you have all the social media tools and scheduling software at your disposal to collect the data you need to refine your social media strategy.
Most of the channels you use will have their own analytics but managing multiple accounts can take precious time. There are a plethora of tools available — many free for single account holders so take a look, plug in and learn valuable insights about your audience.
Some useful and free social analytics tools:
By following these 8 social media tips your ecommerce business will be off to a great start. Make sure you include your social media icons on your homepage and don’t hide them away. Ask your customers to follow you via your chosen channels after they’ve made a purchase and include social media activity in newsletters and other communications. Have fun with it — chances are if you enjoy your content, your audience will to.
About the Author:
Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur & coach.
I’m Patrick Foster and I write about ecommerce and digital technology trends. I’m passionate about helping ecommerce merchants reach their audiences online. You can find my blogs, articles and resources across a variety of entrepreneurial websites aimed at digital growth.Back to Small Business blogs