Starting a social media presence can be an intimidating prospect for online retailers, and rightfully so.
For nearly a decade, social media marketing has been billed as a necessity for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Most ecommerce social media marketing articles you read online will try to dazzle you with statistics about the power and reach of social media. Clearly, social media is a powerful marketing tool to help you sell online.
But just because a whole lot of people use social media doesn’t mean you should dive into the deep end. Is the reward worth the risk? The answer is yes, but only if you approach your online store’s social media presence strategically. Taking a wrong or half-baked approach to social media can be far more detrimental for your brand than not operating on social media at all.
Because social media marketing’s so tricky, it’s important not to launch your ecommerce business into it without a comprehensive plan. We’ve put together a high-level guide for leveraging social media to your online store’s advantage. We’ll walk you through what you need to think about before you start creating brand pages and responding to customers.
Before you even consider representing your brand on social media, there’s a lot you can do to spark conversation and sharing through your own website.
Though conversation about your brand is an important part of social media marketing, the meat and potatoes of social media marketing is encouraging customers to share your products with your friends and family. Social sharing is so powerful that the top 500 global retailers made $3.3 billion in 2014 through social shopping.
One of the first things you can do to help your products and your store enter the social media spotlight is add sharing buttons to your product pages and other pages on your website. Ignore the impulse to add every social share button available. You’ll want to use the next guideline to help you identify the highest value social media sites for your customers.
Choosing the Right Social Media Channels
One of the biggest mistakes online retailers make is diving into social media headfirst, creating pages on a wide variety of websites to expand their online presence.
Yes, having a presence in more places increases your chances of being found. But if you’re approaching social media strategically, your social media plan should start with the highest impact channels for your audience. Even the most prominent social media channels aren’t a given for your strategy. If you’re selling handmade goods, for example, Pinterest marketing could very well lead to more sales than investing heavily in your Facebook brand page.
To choose the right channel:
- Make sure you have a clear definition of who your audience is, including demographic details like age, region, interests, etc.
- Compare that information with the demographic breakout of popular social media websites.
- Find social media sites with niches that match your audience’s interests. For example, if your audience is more likely to be engaged by visual content, you might want to invest more heavily in Instagram.
Armed with this information, pick one or two social media channels to focus on in order to start building a social media presence. That way, you’ll spend more time on social media marketing that’ll have a bigger impact on sales rather than stretching your resources thin on channels with lower impact.
Now that you’ve set up the right channels for your audience, you have a big opportunity to continually engage your customers.
Creating Channel-appropriate Posts
Just having a page and letting it collect dust won’t build your social media cred. To keep customers coming back for more (and clicking through to your store to buy stuff), you’ll need to create a steady stream of compelling posts.
Easier said than done. Creating media takes time. Making sure that media engages your audience and takes the best format for the channel you’re using to share it takes know-how.
When evaluating the content you want to post, use these rules of thumb.
- Try not to be sales-y. People use social media to communicate and find interesting content. Your online store’s big blowout sale might fit the bill, but it’s best to save your sales-y stuff for special occasions. Mostly, you want to make sure you’re sharing things that won’t force your audience to click that “unfollow” button. Before you post a piece of content, think hard and long about it from your audience’s perspective.
- Make sure you’re using the right media mix for the channel. It can be tempting to reuse the same content across channels. But it doesn’t always make sense to share the same text-heavy Facebook post on Instagram or Pinterest.
- When in doubt, share images. After all, a picture’s worth a thousand words. Plus, you should already be using pictures on your online store that you can reuse on social media.
- Share frequently enough to stay on customers’ radars...but not too frequently that it annoys them.
Okay, we’ve covered what you should be sharing with your audience. But most social media is a two-way channel. What do you do when customers come knocking on your door?
Handling Customer Service
If you hadn’t read this article first, you might’ve been caught off-guard the first time one of your customers leaves a ticked off comment on your social media page. This is a huge surprise for many online retailers when they get set up on social media and one they don’t always bake into their plan.
The fact of the matter is customer service could represent a huge resource burden over social media. In fact, some 67% of consumers use social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to engage with customer service representatives.
The good news is you can turn online complainers to your advantage if you’re equipped to engage the naysayers. A negative comment on your Facebook page is an opportunity to make things right that you might not have had otherwise. Simply offering a discount to a disgruntled customer could turn that person into a lifelong shopper.
Next-level Engagement Tactics
Once you have the basics down, you can start using advanced tactics, like coupling social media posts with discounts and promotions or running advertising campaigns on the social media channels that get you the most bang for your buck.
Remember, before you take things to the next level, make sure you have a solid foundation for using social media marketing for your online store. With the right plan in place, you’ll start generating new customers and more sales for your business.
This guest post was written by 3dcart. 3dcart is the all-in-one eCommerce solution for retailers to build, promote and grow their online stores. 3dcart's services include the best Technical Support in the industry, 100+ Mobile-Ready Themes featuring the latest technology, order management software, blog, email marketing tools and more.