Skip to main content

In this interview series, we are talking to founders, CEOs, and ecommerce business leaders about how to use social media to grow your ecommerce business. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Arter.

Josh Arter

Now more than ever, social media platforms are making it easier for brands to showcase and sell their products/services to engaged audiences. With more than 10 years of social media marketing experience, Josh Arter, Director of Social Media at STIR Advertising & Integrated Messaging, is all about leveraging new platform features and analytic insights to move the needle for clients.


Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I graduated from Marquette University after studying advertising and marketing. At the time, social media marketing was slowly gaining momentum as brands started to realize the power of leveraging the platforms to get their brand message out there. Over time, I’ve kept on top of and love to adapt emerging, cutting-edge trends to support our clients’ needs.

Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?

I may or may not have managed a social media ecosystem for a Dancing With The Stars dancer…

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn from that?

As busy as inboxes can be, sometimes wires get crossed, but in one instance, an email about influencer marketing went to the wrong client. It just so happened that they ended up being VERY interested in dipping their toes into the world of influencers. A few meetings later, we had a small roster of partners.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people? 

Currently, I work with clients across a range of industries. One of the more interesting campaigns is a hyper-targeted awareness campaign directed at promoting the importance of routine cancer screenings, what screenings you should consider based on age and gender, and how to schedule said screenings.

We’re also currently managing the social media accounts for an outdoor shopping mall/entertainment district. From concerts to art festivals and user-generated content to photoshoots in focus retailers, there’s always something to capture and share. There’s always an opportunity to get creative in the content we’re developing.

You're a successful business leader. What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success?

One of the most important traits, I would say, is being a data nerd. In a time when analytics are real-time and can help you discover a TON of insight, it’s almost necessary to be able to understand data and pull those insights out. We run a ton of paid ads for one of our clients. Over time, we’ve discovered that depending on the channel, certain CTAs perform better than others, video and shareable graphics perform better on certain channels, and even specific verbiage we use in our ad copy proves to be more successful.

Another is wanting to constantly learn. The digital and social media world is constantly evolving, so it’s important to always stay on top of the latest trends and what they mean for you and your clients. Whether it’s an update to a platform’s algorithm or new features to consider, we always look at ways to strategically position our clients at the forefront.

Lastly, an important trait is the ability to listen. Everyone thinks they’re the smartest in the room. Still, it really depends on the ability to actively listen and absorb what other points of view may be to approach problem-solving successfully. 

photo of Joshua Arter

What was your original vision for your ecommerce business? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?

Traditionally, ecommerce followed a very straightforward formula: Get people to your website to purchase. As ecommerce platforms have evolved and social media has become a mainstay in everyday life, the sheer amount of time people spend on social media makes it the perfect candidate to be a point of sale.

How did social media help you grow your business? What were your strategic objectives, and how did you implement your social media plan?

Again because people spend a ton of time on social media, we were able to develop organic executions (shoppable Instagram posts) as well as targeted paid campaigns to create as many initial touchpoints as possible. 

Starting with brand awareness, we wanted to penetrate new markets. But, with retargeting efforts, that’s really where we wanted to move them down the sales funnel and start promoting specific products through the seamless shopping experiences now found across social media platforms.

Which social media platforms have you found most beneficial for ecommerce specifically? 

Instagram and TikTok have absolutely been at the forefront of pushing ecommerce on social media.

What social commerce trends are you most closely paying attention to, and how are you preparing to leverage them for growth?

Since Instagram has recently announced they’re updating the UI to pull back on such in-your-face ecommerce, it will just force us to be more creative in how we approach getting customers to our clients’ websites. Whether that’s influencer partnerships or brand collaborations, we foresee that it will take more than just posting product-centric content or running targeted paid ads.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen when companies try to use social media to promote ecommerce? What can be done to avoid those mistakes? 

Retargeting! That and the lack of connection between initial impression and sale. This can easily get out of hand quickly and can be very frustrating for consumers. Personally, I can’t count how many times I’ve clicked an ad and bought a product only to be served an ad on an Instagram Story promoting the very product I just purchased.

Based on your experience and success, what are your top 5 ways to use social media to grow your ecommerce business? 

1. Target strategically and use as much data you have on hand as possible to influence who and how you target (see mistake above!).

2. Make sure your product catalog is properly set up in channel back ends to be as efficient as possible.

3. Get creative! Products slapped on a stark white background aren’t it. Use attention-grabbing photography. Show relatable end-users with your product. Use video at all times when possible.

4. Be strategic about the channels and features you leverage. Understand where your target audiences are, how they use the platform, and what content they’re most likely to engage with. It will take some testing, but in the end, the juice is worth the squeeze.

5. Leverage in-app storefronts to make shopping and, more importantly, purchasing as seamless as possible.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check out more of our work at stirstuff.com.


Don't miss out on the latest tips, insights, software recommendations, and expert advice from The Ecomm Manager. Subscribe to our newsletter today!

More great ECM content:

By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School.