Importance of social media in eCommerce is rapidly increasing. Only 10 years ago, it was quite possible to lead a very successful online business without having any kind of social media presence. Actually, many of the leading social media networks haven’t yet been launched or were at their early stages at that time. Still, the things changed rapidly and social e commerce became one of the fastest growing segments of the digital commerce. The trends indicate that things will continue to go in the same direction for years to come, and that social media will continue to increase in significance and even become a major factor that determines whether your online selling operations will succeed or not.
Given the fact that the relations between social media and eCommerce are as such, we will discuss in this article how to use them to work for you and help you create conditions to really establish your business and drive sales through social media channels.
We will be focusing on the most important social media and their potential to contribute your operations. We will also explain some of the best practices concerning management of these channels and some important moments where many retailers make crucial mistakes and hinder their efforts without even noticing they are doing it in a wrong way. The networks we will cover in this article include:
Facebook is definitely THE most important channel when it comes to any B2C focused eCommerce business. In this segment, it all revolves around direct sales a business makes to the customers, and since Facebook provides various options to not only advertise but also include direct social selling option, this is the channel that simply can’t be omitted. Without it, there is little chance to succeed as it drives sales on a massive scale and has its own advertising platform built in.
The first and the most important step in establishing your presence on Facebook is creating a company page. This is a process that takes a few minutes and allows you to list your services, put your logo on, and start creating engagement around it.
As soon as this has been done, you need to build an audience around the page. This can be done in organic and paid way. The organic way to expanding engagement includes simply inviting all your existing friends on the network to like the page. Asking other employees to do the same is also a good thing to do, if that does not violate company policies. This is just the first step and creates some engagement, but applying this method does not really provide a well-focused audience which will be handy later on, during paid advertising campaigns.
The next step in organic expansion includes posting updates on the page. If these updates are industry relevant, they will mostly generate an influx of page followers that are directly interested in the topic. This is the proper way to pursue the issue, and it can be reinforced by administrators joining relevant Facebook groups and reposting content that is published on the page in these groups.
Still, the organic growth is usually very slow in the beginning, especially if the brand offers very niche specific products that not all people are interested in.
The other way to improve follower base in a good way is to go with the paid page promotions (take note that this is NOT the same endeavour as paid Facebook advertising). This option allows paid suggestions related to your page and thanks to the advanced algorithm they are using, this means of increasing presence usually brings solid follower base that is actually interested in what you have to offer. DO NOT use the paid option before you have populated the page with content. Pages that are obviously new will generate little value and people will not be too interested to follow them if they don’t see the value in them.
Another thing that should be avoided is creating non-niche related audience. Marketers often use this trick to increase the follower base and produce direct results from the very beginning, but it later on impacts the advertising campaigns in a rather bad way. Simply, many people managing Facebook pages tend to post content that is not related to the company goals (memes, funny videos, etc…). This will create significant engagement, increase the follower base quickly, but will dilute the focus when it comes to potential reach of the paid ads. This can be to some extent acceptable if the target audience is younger population, but even in those cases, there is no real need to follow that road. This mistake mostly comes from the fact that many marketers have experience running CPA campaigns, and in those cases, that approach is legitimate. Still, it is not a proper thing to do in serious product based campaign that also includes elements of branding. It lowers the brand authority if you focus on non-related issues, and creates the feel that your company is not that serious.
Once you have some follower base, it is time to test the Facebook advertising. It is a system that is somewhat similar to Google PPC campaigns, but it is strictly focusing Facebook users. We have already explained some important moments in one of the previous articles dealing with the issue of marketing in digital commerce. The main and the most important moment is to keep your focus on constant optimization of Facebook advertising campaigns and use different angles to reach different groups of potential customers. The advertising tools allow strict and focused targeting, and although it requires a lot of expertise, when done properly, media buying in this segment can do wonders for your business.
It is also possible to go with the direct selling via social media in the case of Facebook, and that feature can be easily integrated in all major eCommerce platform.
Twitter is another popular social media network that many marketers use to reach new customers and generate engagement to their websites. This social media has far less potential than Facebook, but should by all means included in every serious social media marketing campaign. There are some serious drawbacks to it, and the character limit feature is definitely the most significant one. The fact that you are strictly limited to 140 characters with spaces included gives very little place to manoeuvre, and you need to optimize your posts accordingly.
The good thing is that it is possible to rather quickly create followers base through organic means using hashtags and viral reach, and that is a very good platform for generating engagement. There is also an option for paid advertising, and it should be considered, but definitely is not necessary to pursue.
It comes from the fact that this network has completely different goals and is limited when it comes to generating direct sales. Still, the brand awareness can benefit a lot from using Twitter, and that is the reason enough to dedicate some time to it.
LinkedIn is the network for professionals and most employees of any serious brand or retail have accounts there, as it is a great social media platform for job hunting, exchanging experiences, and staying in touch with the latest industry trends, no matter the branch you are operating in.
Being present on LinkedIn is important for three major reasons. Firstly, the brand awareness and brand reputation can benefit a lot from having LinkedIn company page. In that way the people can make sure you are a real company with real people who have certain history in business. That alone is enough to remove any doubts certain customers may have.
Having a company page there also ensures that you are able to post latest news related to your company and make it visible to other users. There is also a system of various groups which can be used similarly as the groups on Facebook in order to expand the reach, but that should not be used for pushing direct sales.
Finally, having all your executives listed there, with the option to communicate through LinkedIn with other users can be a great way to make sure you reach customers in B2B eCommerce. Simply, they will be able to directly communicate with them and possibly create contacts that would lead to new business deals.
There is also an option of talent hunting through this social media, and for many companies it is simply an ideal way to fill their ranks on a short notice when needed.
Pinterest is a rather specific social media network that is very useful in B2C segment, especially when it comes to fashion and luxury eCommerce. It allows placing virtual pins on the board, and these pins can even be shoppable. There are certain 3rd party providers that allow management of shoppable pins directly from the eCommerce platform.
This is not a network that produces too much engagement, but the leads coming through that channel usually convert very well, as this social media is often used by the people who have their mind already set on purchases. Being present there with your products is not imperative, but can be a valuable addition to your overall efforts.
Instagram is a network that rapidly gains popularity across the world, as many celebrities use it to engage their fan base. The usage of Instagram for eCommerce is at best questionable, as the network does not allow posting clickable links, apart from the paid ads.
This makes it relatively good for brand awareness expansion, but the real reach to the potential customers can only be created through paid campaigns which usually have questionable results. If you wish to test that option, it is quite legitimate, but definitely should not be a focus of your efforts.
YouTube is relevant only as an advertising platform (when you are using video ads in your PPC campaigns) and as a means to promote your products (video presentations). It can be also used as a vault of all your video material created during your company history, so it can add to the brand relevance and authority.
Still, as a sales driving channel, it has very limited potential.
This is a very specific social media network that is heavily focused on Russian Federation and the countries that were once a part of the Soviet Union. Many jokingly call it “the Russian Facebook”, but in fact, if you are running your operations in that part of the world, it can be a very handy addition and even supplement the Facebook in those geographies (Facebook is not nearly as popular as Vkontakte in the region).
It does allow paid advertising, and can generate substantial reach, but in order to make it really work for you, everything simply HAS to be done in Russian. It is a very specific market with very specific shopping habits, but it is also a huge market with over 200 million potential customers.
These are just the basic and most characteristic moments concerning social media in eCommerce. Of course, in order to conduct an effective social media marketing campaign, you need to adapt it to your goals, employ relevant social media marketing tools, and a team of experts.
This team of experts is available through Studioworx. We are amongst other things a social media marketing agency that can help you create engagement, reach new customers and increase your sales through the social media channels.
If you need assistance, feel free to give us a call and we will analyse your case, propose the steps to improve your social media presence, and even run your social media campaigns for you. We would devise a fully personalised plan for your company that would include the best opportunities to maximise your efforts with minimal investment, and we can do it for both organic and paid growth of your social media presence.