Digital Marketing, eCommerce, Featured, Social media

Your Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Ecommerce

With 3.2 billion people across the world using social media on a daily basis, it’s an area you can’t afford to ignore.  Social media for ecommerce doesn’t have to be hard though. In fact, with the right strategy, consistency and know-how, you can reap the benefits for years to come.

Your Brand on Social

While having your brand on social media is a good move, just signing up isn’t enough. Social media is the spotlight and the world is watching, so how are you going to build your powerful brand?

Have a goal in mind for social media

For social media ecommerce to work, you need to have a clear goal in mind for what you want to achieve like increasing brand visibility/reach, increasing sales or increasing engagement. Otherwise, you’ll become yet another company tweeting and resharing without any rhyme or reason.

Perhaps social media could be your main channel for customer service? Maybe you produce enough video content to warrant a YouTube channel? Whatever it is that you want to achieve, make a decision on it and stick to it.

Choose the right social media platform for success

It may seem obvious but choosing the right social media platform for ecommerce is absolutely vital to its success. Some social media platforms may skew to a different audience and spending time, money and effort on building a brand there may end up being a waste of resources.

On the other hand, you might find that one or two social media platforms are a perfect fit for the services and products that you offer. It’s about finding the balance and striking at the right time.  For example, if you sell products that are visual – such as clothing, then Instagram or Pinterest would be great choices. For a company that sells a service or items not as visually appealing like engine parts, then it’s best to steer clear and find alternative social media channels to drive sales.

LinkedIn is great for companies who focus on business-to-business while business-to-customer would be better accustomed to either Facebook or Twitter, with both platforms heavily focused on allowing consumers to interact with brands that they like or want to find out more about.

If you’re focusing on a much younger target market then Snapchat is your go-to social media platform, with 71% of Generation Z (anyone born after the mid-90s) using it every day.

Secure your brand name on all social media platforms

Before you launch into your first big social media campaign, you need to secure your brand name on all social media platforms. Doing so will not only help you to enrich your current brand but also to stop scammers or competitors from imitating your brand which can lead to long-term reputation damage.

While the sheer number of users on each platform may mean that your ideal brand name is taken, you should be able to still come up with a creative way of making sure users know who you are and where they need to go to find you. Just make sure that in one way or another, you’ve secured your social media branding early.  It’s a good first step to growing your ecommerce social media marketing.

Use social for two way customer communication

The days of everyone calling on the phone are long gone. Ideally you want to replicate the experience a customer has in a shop and whilst this is tricky in the digital sphere, allowing the customer to easily communicate with someone, or something, is essential.

Sure, phone’s are still handy for calling but most people like to do business at their own convenience and today, that means via social media. Whether it’s through Twitter’s mentions or a direct Facebook message, talking to your customers (both current and potential ones) in the way that they want to communicate with you is just as important as the products and services you sell.

If you’re not around to answer a question about one of your products on Instagram, but a competitor is, you may lose the sale. Don’t let that happen. Phone calls and emails are fine but they’re not the be all and end all when it comes to two-way communication with your customers.

Growing on social

Engagement and success on social media for ecommerce doesn’t just happen in an instant, it takes time to nurture positive results. This is where Intuitive tools like Buffer and Hootsuite can help with scheduling posts, or to let you collaborate closer as a team in order to find more meaningful success.

Growing your brand on social takes time, effort and planning, it’s not all plain sailing. And sometimes, you will fail, but every failure takes you one step closer to what works right for your brand.

Drive Social Engagement

The clue might be in the name but the best way to get the most out of social media for ecommerce is to become more social.

Social media works because it brings people together, no matter where they are or how they’re getting online. So, engage with the people that take the time to leave likes, comments and messages. It’s far more important than just staying in touch with customers, as many of the social media platforms algorithms are driven by engagement.

Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have the power to push more meaningful content to the top of users’ pages, so, more engagement on your posts will mean a better chance of coming out on top of their algorithms and getting more people to see your brand.

Don’t let comments or messages go unanswered either, especially when platforms like Facebook can inform visitors of your average response time. The quicker response will also help you to feature favourably in the algorithms, helping not just the customer your speaking to but also your potential to reach more.

Increase Your Social Following

We’ve mentioned it already but engagement is the key to success when it comes to increasing your social media following. Interacting with both customers on your social media pages and away from them, is the easiest way to get your name out and about.

What you’re really after though, is quality over quantity. Attracting 30,000 followers who have no interest in your product pales in comparison to having 300 followers who actively want to make a purchase or consistently engage with your brand.

Produce and Share Content Regularly

It’s easier said than done but creating interesting posts will also be key in improving your social brand.  It’s not just the quality of your posts but also the consistency. For you to tackle social media and use it as an asset, you need to get the frequency right.

Posting once a day on Facebook is good but doing so on Twitter will quickly see your post lost amongst hundreds of thousands of others. In fact, the frequency is a lot higher, with 8 posts per day (1 per hour) a good amount.

While once a day for the visually appealing Instagram is a great start, it’s also a good idea to keep your story up to date so customers can see what’s going on either behind the scenes. The same can be said for Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn, a post a day keeps your followers engaged and your brand relevant.

Selling on social

As much as 45% of the world’s population are now using social media, that means that you can potentially reach billions of people. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to sell on social.

Converting Visitors into Customers

Turning visitors and followers into customers is the next part of your ecommerce social media marketing plan. Is your product or service appealing enough?  If so, then are you funneling them down the correct path and turning inquisitive looks into tangible sales?

Despite the urban myths and stigma that says that social media isn’t a tool for selling, the opposite is actually true. At least 40% of business owners are using social media as a tool to generate sales. While 30% of consumers say they would happily purchase items from Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram. The market is there, all you have to do is act upon it.

Ensure that your social media channels are leading consumers to sales-focused landing pages.  You don’t want people to arrive on your site and then head off elsewhere. Focus their mind and their money on what brought them to you in the first place. Do that and you’ll soon be adding your social media channels as a viable way to generate consistent revenue for your business.

Listing Your Products on Social 

Most social media platforms work hard to prevent users from straying away during their daily scrolls. For example, Facebook now has instant articles that slide in and out of view with a single click, making it easy to return to your feed. So it’s often hard to direct someone away from where they’re scrolling and out of the social media ecosystem. So don’t force them to leave, adapt your strategy to suit the consumer, not your ego.

While clicks to your website might look great, it’s sales and the customer experience that matters. By listing your products on social (like having a store on Facebook for example) you allow your consumers to stay in one place and still have access to your products and services, helping them to keep scrolling after they’ve purchased your latest item.

Using discount codes for ecommerce empty shop window

Coupon Codes and Discounts

Social media can give you a great opportunity to run eye-catching campaigns during important periods of the year.

Exclusive coupon codes and discounts that live on your social media channels can provide customers with a feeling of discovery and increase their impulse to buy.

It could be an offer you’re running elsewhere but if you market it that it’s a limited time, social-media exclusive offer, then the impulse from the consumer to use it and the chance of a purchase increase. These types of offers work extremely well around seasonal events, so plan ahead.

Advertising on Social

In January 2018 Facebook, followed by others, changed its algorithm to prioritise content from family and friends over everything else. A change that was welcomed by the public at large. As a result, it created increased competition between businesses to try and compete for the little room that was left to try and target consumers.

Trying to get in front of the eyes of consumers on social media is certainly trickier now than it was before but still not impossible if you know what you’re doing.

Facebook Advertising

With 68% of adults based in the US using Facebook, the advertising opportunities are plentiful.

You can use targeted ads to reach potential customers that fit your unique personas that you’re trying to focus on. This microtargeting allows you to identify people using specific details. From jobs, age, gender, hobbies and even employment status. So if you’ve got a product or service, you can put it right in front of the user who you think needs it most.

While Facebook may have the lowest cost per 1000 impressions, don’t forget that it should be about quality rather than quantity. Facebook’s wide-appeal means that you can get more eyes on your brand than on any other platform, but if you can’t convert it into a sale, is it worth the expense?

Twitter Advertising 

Like Facebook, Twitter’s wide-reach allows you to access millions of potential customers within seconds and its two-way communication allows for conversations to flow in an instant. It’s the second biggest social media platform and its open nature and hashtags allow you to quickly take advantage of what’s trending and attach your brand and latest offer to it, immediately attracting attention.

Twitter as an advertising platform falls short due to its users though.  It has a high percentage of not just fake accounts but also trolls – the latter being users who don’t want to engage in an honest manner. Add in the fact that Twitter’s cost-per-click is also higher than Facebooks and you’re again going back to weighing up the number of customers vs the quality of them.

Twitter’s reach is certainly appealing but are you confident enough in your brand to attract the consumers who will actively want to contribute to your business?

‘Selling on Instagram, example instagram account’

Instagram Advertising

A great way of driving traffic to your business, increasing visibility and brand awareness, Instagram ads can also be managed from your Facebook Ads manager – making it easy to control your ad spending on different platforms.

Instagram also gives you the option of advertising on not just the regular user feed but also within its ‘Story’ section. Advertising here will mean that as users are scrolling through their friends’ stories, they’ll inevitably come to your advert, where you’ll have access to the entire screen. So a lasting impression could mean a new customer.

Instagram is an extremely visual platform, so products and services which aren’t appealing to the eye won’t fare well.  It’s a more focused market and doesn’t have the broad appeal of Facebook and Twitter. Brands which skew to an older audience may find Instagram to be the wrong place for social advertising as it tends to attract a younger demographic.

Pinterest Advertising

While it’s not as big as Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest can allow you to tap into hyper-specific markets that tailors to its hobby-first focus. This means that if you do have a product that represents a specific niche, you can use Pinterest’s hashtags to appeal to users who are more likely to have an interest in your product – rather than a scattergun approach like you might try on other social media platforms.

The drawback for this approach is that Pinterest is heavily focused on food and make-up as they’re visually appealing. If you’re not operating within those circles or if your product or service isn’t great on the eye, you may struggle to gain a foothold on the platform, no matter how much you invest in its advertising functionality.

How to be successful at social media advertising

Who is Killing it on Social?

Away

Despite merely selling luggage cases, Away have established themselves as an attractable brand thanks to their presence and use of Instagram. The company has expertly taken advantage of the visual nature of Instagram by showing their luggage cases in desirable locations where it’s often not even the focus of the image. This turns their brand into a more travel-focused one, rather than a luggage one. In just three years they have grown to 339k followers, including numerous high-profile celebrities.

Red Bull

An energy drink on its own isn’t appealing but creating content that’s engaging, watchable and desirable makes your brand more attractive. And that’s what Red Bull is doing with their Facebook page.

The Austrian-based firm’s marketing strategy is focused on outstanding content from extreme sports, unrelated to the product but hard to not pay attention to. Their focus on video content also means they’re taking advantage of the fact that it’s instantly 1200% more shareable than text and image-only content – driving engagement and increasing the awareness of their brand with every passing moment.

Wendy’s

Probably not what you’d expect but because of their use of Twitter’s two-way communication, Wendy’s brand has grown inexplicable over the past few years on Twitter.

Their use of not just engagement but brutally honest humour has seen them consistently increase interaction with users, even if what they’re being asked is actually nothing to do with hamburgers.

In Summary

If you do it right, social media is a wonderful and powerful tool that can help you to reach more customers and ultimately, bring in more revenue. The keys are consistency, creativeness, engagement and picking the right social media platform for your brand. With 3.2 billion people accessing social media every day, your customers are waiting for you, so go get them.