Is your business on social media? While platforms like Instagram began as a way to stay in touch with friends by uploading pictures of your last European trip—or a plate of cacio e pepe #italianfoodlover—it’s graduated towards the next phase: Social media for ecommerce has become a way for brands to showcase their products and services while connecting with their community of followers/customers.
Almost every social media platform at this point, whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or TikTok, has the ability to take your ecommerce site to the next level.
On average, users spent around 2 hours and 27 minutes per day on social media in 2022, the highest recorded amount of time ever spent on social engagement. Learning to capture their attention by having a strong social media presence can help drive conversions to your online store.
Keep reading to learn how social media marketing can benefit your ecommerce brand and the steps you need to get started.
Benefits Of Using Social Media For Ecommerce
1. Build brand awareness
Social media is a fantastic way to build brand awareness, especially if you are starting out. Making people aware of your brand is the first step in getting them to the top of your marketing funnel, so you definitely want to pip their interest!
Especially if you are still working on your website SEO, social media marketing is a great way to get noticed while you are working on building up a trusted following of customers.
In some cases, social media is not just another touch point for potential customers to find you. It is the first touchpoint. So building out your social profile can go a long way.
Social media platforms like TikTok, which gained major traction during the pandemic, have become a social selling powerhouse.
As people chime in that they bought it because "they saw it on TikTok," businesses are flocking to this social channel, hoping their product gets on track to become the next hot item. Everything from handy kitchen gadgets to sunset lamps for golden hour photos is getting the viral treatment. And those who don’t get in on the craze are getting a strong sense of FOMO.
2. Create a community
Urge others in your social network to join your tribe by stating your brand’s mission. What is your brand’s purpose? People love to be a part of a community that aligns with their interests and values.
Show off what makes you stand out with a branded hashtag. Fitness clothing brands like Lululemon leverage their hashtag (#TheSweatLife) to promote a healthy and clean lifestyle.
Or have a look at beauty retailer Sephora’s inclusive messaging, We Belong to Something Beautiful, that acknowledges their diverse community of beauty shoppers and team.
A post that showcases Sephora’s diverse and inclusive team.
These are great examples of brands that do a fantastic job of expressing what makes them special and communicating that to like-minded customers.
3. Ability to set up shopping features
Your ecommerce store may already be up and running, but you’ll want to turn on the shopping features on your social media channels, too (they can be your sales channels, too!).
Setting up your Facebook shop, shoppable tags on Instagram, or syncing your product catalog with your Pinterest page gives one more touch point with the customer and one interaction closer to persuading them to "add to cart."
4. Run retargeting Facebook ads
Social commerce is also great for retargeting existing visitors to your site. With all this information, you can filter by a detailed number of criteria such as age, location, interests, and how recently they were active on your site.
Once you’ve built up a following, you can also retarget by who has liked or saved your post and start experimenting with different ad segments.
5. Shows that you have a presence
At this point, it’s almost a little weird for a brand not to be on social media. That doesn’t mean you have to be on all of them (more on that later), but having an online presence, and leaving a valuable digital footprint, can help legitimize the brand in an age of online scams and phishing scandals.
Customers will feel more confident knowing they can find more information about the brand. And, as the brand representative, you have full access to how your customers respond to your product or service via sentiment analysis.
6. Social media channels can be search engines too
Have you heard? Almost 40% of Gen Z prefer using Instagram and Tiktok as a search engine over Google. What that means is making sure your social media content is SEO optimized is now more important than ever for maximum visibility.
The younger generation relies less on Google Maps to find the hot new restaurant and instead on #FoodTok recommendations. Diversifying your marketing channel strategy is key to surviving the ever-changing ecommerce landscape.
Steps On How To Get Started With Social Media For Ecommerce
1. Figure out what your goals are for social
Before you start creating a business account for every social media channel possible, you might want to evaluate your goals first.
I like to set up some SMART goals about what I hope to achieve on these platforms. Do you want to gain 10K followers in 6 months? Look at other businesses in your niche to see what’s attainable to ensure these goals are possible.
2. Define your audience
Where is your ideal customer spending most of their time? Millennials and baby boomers gravitate more towards Facebook, while Pinterest attracts mostly females in the 18 to 64 age group interested in topics like wedding planning or home decor.
If you’re targeting Gen Z, Tiktok and Snapchat are your best bet to catch their eye. Knowing your target audience is key in figuring out what makes the most sense for you strategically.
3. Come up with content pillars to inform social media strategy
After narrowing down what social channels to focus on, think of what your content pillars will be. Your content pillars are three to five topics you want to educate your audience on.
Let’s look at the vegan beauty brand Osea for a second. Their content pillars are Clean Beauty, Sustainability, Transparency, and Health & Well Being. So all of their content will relate to these pillars in some way, creating a cohesive content strategy.
Mapping out your pillars ahead of time lets you see what topics are on-brand and which might be fun to do but ultimately off-brand. For Osea, doing a post on yoga aligns with their health and well-being pillar.
4. Determine your brand personality
How are you talking to your audience? As a close friend or with a professional tone? You don’t need to don a Duolingo costume to catch someone’s attention, but developing a specific tone or catchphrase makes the brand more likable and memorable.
The dating app Bumble is great at nailing that relatable brand voice that is funny and sarcastic, but empowering and uplifting at the same time.
This reflects the user experience you’ll have using their app and resonates well with the largely female audience they are catering towards. If you don’t know what your brand personality is yet, ask yourself how would you want this brand to make you feel?
5. Find out what people are searching for
Once you’re armed with content pillars and ideas, it’s time to do some optimization. Research the explore page on Instagram or the For You page on TikTok to see what keywords others are using.
Include some popular general keywords and hashtags with your posting and any niche ones that are more relevant to what you are doing, to capture other followers who may be interested in seeing your content.
6. Work with content creators
If you don’t have a big budget to hire a professional photographer, work with a few local content creators to create stunning visuals for your brand instead.
Content creators are already experienced with the social media landscape and understand what it takes to educate and entertain followers. They can post on their social channels while tagging your brand to give you additional exposure. You can also recycle this user-generated content to fill your feed with on-brand images that match your aesthetic.
As online sentiment shifts from idolizing big-time influencers to valuing more authentic and ‘real’ small creators, UGC is becoming one of the most in-demand social marketing forms.
7. Optimize account for social commerce
Add a call to action in your profile and posts, so followers know they can take action to lengthen the interaction. Whether you want them to download an ebook or visit your website to learn more, you want the destination to be memorable.
8. Look into paid strategies
There are so many other ways to amp up your social commerce strategy. Along with running ads, you can also work with high-profile content creators or influencers to review your product. Running an affiliate marketing program can also give you exposure to smaller-sized creators.
9. Plan ahead and make use of scheduling tools
Using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to plan your content in batches frees up a lot of time. Creating a month’s worth of content in one day has never been easier. Look out for key dates and fun holidays in your niche that you can use to tie in with sales and promotions.
Craig’s Cookies used National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day to run a sale and drive online orders. Ask yourself: What are some notable days within your industry that you can parlay into fun promos?
10. Review analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t
Once your content goes live, don’t turn off your computer and call it a day. Review your post and study analytics afterwards to see how it performed.
Some will inevitably do better than others, but don’t be discouraged if a post doesn’t perform the way you expected. These insights allow you to see what content resonates best with your audience and those that have missed the mark, you can learn something from those too.
Remember: some posts may flop, but it’s not a flop era. Sometimes after the hardest flop comes, the biggest slay.
11. Be consistent
This is one of the hardest things to follow through on social media. Whether posting a few times a week or multiple times a day, make sure that there is enough bandwidth to keep these channels running.
If the pace is not sustainable, you can become susceptible to burnout. Inactive accounts on social media are de-prioritized by the algorithm and can lead to a loss of engagement in the long run that takes time to recover from.
12. Find other brands in your niche
Social media is a great opportunity to discover other brands in your niche and network. Connect with like-minded individuals in the same industry so you can stay on top of trends and what’s happening in the market.
13. Cross-promote social channels
If you are venturing onto a new platform, make sure to leverage your existing platforms. If you have 1 million followers on Pinterest, use that as an opportunity to cross-promote your Tik Tok videos.
At this point, every social media network is prioritizing video, which can help you get a boost in visibility. Maybe you’ll even end up on the For You page!
14. Engage with your followers
Don’t forget to take time to engage with your followers. They may have questions about your brand, like where you source your materials or if your fig jam is organic. Don’t leave them hanging!
Tip: Create a weekly post or add to your highlights of commonly asked questions.
There are so many features available now to promote social engagement. Run a poll on Instagram stories to get a better sense of your customer base’s favorite colors or pain points, create a private chat with your best customers, or give your community behind-the-scenes content using the Close Friends Instagram stories feature.
The opportunities to meet your future customers online are endless. You’ll need to get a bit creative.
15. Don’t let complaints go unheard
Not everyone will be happy about your product 100% of the time. But, rather than ignoring the negative feedback, address it calmly and professionally. Troll comments we can delete, but for real customers, we will want to nip things in the bud and give them a fantastic customer experience.
16. Surprise and delight over and over
Aside from seeing beautiful visuals of your products, users on social media want to see something different from your brand that they can’t get from looking at your ecommerce website.
Engage with them on IG stories with polls, and get them to vote for the next flavor of ice cream or the next color of a top that’s going viral. Run a giveaway, promote a bingo card, or even let them know of a scavenger hunt you are running downtown.
Selling on social media doesn’t have to be difficult. Taking the time to think about your goals and social strategy can help create a cohesive and aesthetic page that can attract potential customers and create buzz for your brand.
Every mention, tag, and comment is social proof and helps build your brand’s presence. And in an era of short attention spans, being bold, authentic, and real stands out.
No matter what stage of the business you are in, these social media tips can help you take your ecommerce marketing strategy to the next level.