Social media and eCommerce have a lot in common. Last year, there were more than 1.96 billion people active on social media and more than 1.6 billion people made a purchase on an online platform. Although they are completely separate entities, both are becoming more prevalent in our daily lives as we emerge into an increasingly digital world. Used together, they can have great benefits.
Want to learn some of the benefits of incorporating social media marketing into your eCommerce business? Keep reading ..
Engagement, Interaction & Customer Service
Social media allows users to directly comment, like and share your posts, photos or videos, creating a conversation and awareness about your brand or products. Its relationship building qualities also mean that you can quickly reply to your customers, allowing for what seems like a personal conversation in ‘real time’. Quick responses are also more likely to lead to sales and purchases, as well as show a caring quality to your customers.
Understanding Your Audience
Social media can help you understand your audience. By social listening, you can gain an insight into your audience’s interests, likes, dislikes and what is currently being said about your brand or products. This will help to optimize your campaigns, targeting a specific audience.
With 69% of online consumers reading reviews before purchasing, good online reviews are extremely important. These platforms allow for customers to create user-generated content where they can personally show off your product with an image or a video and share their comments freely. Additionally, when a company is viewed on the web through Google, it pulls through the star rating a business has acquired from Facebook reviews. Clicking on this rating will take users to your Facebook page for further details.
Boost website traffic by buying advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. With this form of advertising, you can target a specific audience, whether this is based on location, age, interests or otherwise, creating effective, relevant leads. These platforms also have analytics that allow you to easily track return and online systems such as Hootsuite can track all kinds of data including level of engagement.
In-app purchasing is available on many platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. This allows consumers to purchase directly through a mobile app and has made purchasing online much easier and quicker, and therefore more spontaneous.
Showcase your product in a variety of ways instead of a simple still image. Effectively, the audience will feel like they can see the product before they are buying. A video is also more interactive and engaging than an image and is more likely to be shared.
Live videos can be used in many ways: exclusively showcasing new products, responding to questions and answers in ‘real time’, providing a behind-the-scenes preview, giving your business a personality, and showing your audience a more humane side.
With the use of celebrity endorsement or others with a strong online following, your brand or products can reach a wider audience quickly and effectively. Your followers trust their influencers and the products or services they use.
Social media platforms make it easy to host competitions that direct audiences to your website. This reward scheme entices and excites new customers and rewards loyal customers.
Offers, Sales & Promotions
With the average person spending at least 40 minutes a day on their social media accounts, these platforms are a great way to highlight any promotions that you may currently have on. For example, if you have a promotion on a particular product, you can directly send your audience to the product page on your website, generating more traffic.
However, it takes more than a general post every day to see how social media platforms can be of benefit to your business. You must have a well-planned and thoughtful strategy in place. For social media to work effectively for your business, you should:
• Set goals – it is important to know what you want to get out of your campaign, so you can track its success. Goals should be calculable, such as increased sales or more traffic diverted to your website (more details later on).
• Grow your following over time – let your customers know that you are on social media and perhaps even send out an email campaign announcing it.
• Post regularly – regular, daily content keeps your brand or products on topic and in conversation. It is important to not spam your followers or be too salesy as this would quickly result in unfollowing. Scheduling systems, such as Hootsuite, can help ensure your posts go out at a specific time, on a specific platform.
• Create content that is shareable and valuable – again, customers are not likely to engage with your posts if they feel like they are being spammed. Where possible, keep current with trends and even holidays or special events.
• Create content that is short and concise – this type of post is more likely to be digested and shared.
• Be consistent with your brand and its message – ensure that customers are aware you are on social media and that these are your accounts. Using your logo as your profile picture can help and you should update your business contact details on all social media platforms. It is also a good idea to integrate social media accounts onto your website and allow for products and news to be shared through your social media platforms.
• Participate with your customers – it is important to follow them back, comment on or like their comments, and acknowledge posts they make about your product or brand. If they leave a negative review, do not simply ignore it, but instead, show your audience you are trying every effort to solve the issue. Social media can show your audience that you care about what they say and think about your products or services.
You may be wondering where to even begin with your own social media strategy. Essentially, it must outline the outcomes you want to achieve, the current situation, and tools or ideas of how to reach your goals. The more detailed and specific your plan is, the more effective the end results will be. Follow this basic outline as a starting point and build it up when you feel more confident:
1. Set SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals. Goals must be aligned with your broader marketing goals and with your customers in mind.
2. Complete a social media audit – Assess all of your current social media accounts: how many followers you already have, post history, how often you post, engagement and so forth. This will build up a picture of where you need to improve and who your current audience is. You may even find it useful to present data in graphs and charts for later references.
3. Content marketing plan – You may find it useful to create a content calendar which answers the type of content you want to post, its target audience, time/regularity, who will create the content and who will promote it, for each post. Find the best mix of being spontaneous with content and pre-scheduling posts. Your engagement with customers should be done as quickly as possible.
4. Start building up your social media presence – With your goals in mind and from your market research, it is now time to put it in motion. You may wish to add or delete accounts at this point depending on your goals.
5. Research – Constantly research current trends and social media patterns. The best campaigns stay one step ahead of the game.
6. Test and measure – It is important to see the impact of your ideas and goals. It is necessary to adjust and evaluate your plan if the outcomes are not what you desired or expected. In such an evolving world it is also important to try out fresh new ideas.
Social media can be a significant game-changer in the eCommerce world, offering new ways to reach new customers, engage with existing customers, reward loyalty and showcase what your brand or products have to offer. So what are you waiting for? Get setting those social media goals and create your strategy today!