Are you participating on social media, or are you investing in social commerce? There’s a big difference. When you’re participating on social media as an ecommerce brand, you’re focused purely on perception (i.e. “does it look like we know what we’re doing when consumers see rus on social media?”).

When you’re investing in social commerce, on the other hand, you’re actually taking the time to craft and implement strategies that allow you to use social media as a tool to drive more sales for your business.

If you’ve been spending too much time worrying about perception and not enough time driving actual ROI from your social media efforts, it’s time to make some changes.

But where to start?

Here’s how top ecommerce brands are using social media to drive more sales today:

Establish Authority with Content

Social media has come a long way in the last decade. In the past, if you were a brand and you had an active presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you were ahead of a lot of businesses. It was enough to grab the attention of online consumers.

Today, you have to do more. Just being on social media sites isn’t enough to delight and attract potential customers—every company knows how to do that. To get any sort of ROI from your efforts today, you have to implement strategies that help you cut through all the noise.

One of the best ways to do it is by establishing yourself as an authority with content.

Good ecommerce companies know that in order to drive engagement on social media communities, you can’t just promote your products all the time—you have to find and post relevant content from the internet that your followers will find valuable. But great ecommerce companies know the value of creating and sharing their own content.

When you share your own original blog posts, videos, and photos with followers on social media, you’re able to:

  • Establish yourself and your brand as an important voice in your industry — you’re showing your audience that you know their problems and how to fix them
  • Build trust with online consumers who are looking for the right companies to buy fromyou’re showing your audience that you’re willing to help them, even if they aren’t quite ready to buy yet.
  • Differentiate from other brands selling similar productsyou’re showing your audience what makes you, your company, and your products special.

Resources for Getting Started:

Example from a Top Ecommerce Brand:

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Bonobos is a men’s clothing brand that created a blog that allows them to share valuable tips, advice, and stories with their customers and followers. It’s called Equateur. In the example above, they are including wedding and marriage tips in the section of their shop where they sell clothing for grooms.

Choose Your Channels Wisely

One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of ecommerce brands make when deciding to participate on social media is investing in too many channels. When you’re new to social media marketing and you’re excited to get started, it can be tempting to want to create pages and accounts on every social media site and app that exists—it can be a costly mistake.

When you participate in too many social media channels, it can become difficult to consistently engage with followers or maintain an active presence. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Remember: you aren’t worried about perception—you want real ROI. In order to drive actual sales from social media, you’re much better off taking time to identify the one or two channels that your target customer uses most (where they spend most of their time), and creating a strategy for only those channels to start.

So how do you decide which social media site to invest in? There are a few ways to approach it:

  • You can ask your customers in a survey which site they use the most, and offer a coupon or promo code in exchange for participating
  • You can dig into the specific demographics of each social media site and find one that aligns the best with the demographics of your ideal customer (use this Pew report for help).
  • You can research which sites typically drive the most sales, based on industry and product-type. Get started by reading through this handy guide from Shopify.

If your customers spend most of their time on Facebook, put the most of your time, energy, and budget into Facebook. If it’s Snapchat, invest your resources into Snapchat. The key is to never spread yourself too thin, and never get so overwhelmed that it starts impacting consistency and quality.  

Hire a Professional Designers & Photographers

In order to ultimately convince your social media followers to buy from you, you have to make them believe that your company is legitimate and your products are top-notch. One great way to quickly build trust with online consumers is to use high-quality photos and graphics from professional photographers and designers.

I’ve mentioned it throughout my blog posts in the past—you don’t have the opportunity to meet your customers face-to-face, and you don’t usually have the opportunity to let your customers try your products before they decide whether or not they want to buy them (the exception to this, of course, is brands that utilize the try-before-you-buy model made popular by companies like Warby Parker).

Your customers need to believe that you make high-quality products—the right photos and graphics can help you convince them.

If you don’t have a full-time designer on staff, consider connecting with a freelance designer on one of the following communities:

If you don’t have a full-time photographer on staff, consider connecting with a few local college campuses and design schools to find a student who has the skills you’re looking for and is eager to gain more experience.

Example from a Top Ecommerce Brand:

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Sakura Bloom crafts and sells baby slings for new parents. They engage with customers and people within their target audience by posting high-quality, authentic photos and graphics on Instagram.

Engage Consistently

I mentioned it briefly in an earlier section, but another way to drive more sales from social media is to engage consistently with followers. Social media isn’t meant to just be another advertising channel for your business. The purpose is to communicate and engage with customers. It’s a two-way conversation. You should be posting updates, links, and promo codes on your social media channels, but you should also be taking the time to respond to questions, thank customers, and be available when people come to you for help.

Engaging often on social media might sound a bit daunting, especially if you don’t have anyone on your team yet to help you manage interactions—but it doesn’t have to be complicated. All you really need to do is dedicate 30 minutes each day for social media management and follower engagement.

If you’re using scheduling tools like Buffer, you won’t have to waste time posting new updates everyday—you can schedule an entire week’s worth of updates in one afternoon. When you don’t have to worry about curating and posting updates for followers, you can spend more time authentically interacting with them.  

To participate in conversations and make sure you don’t miss any opportunities, use a social media monitoring/listening tool like HootSuite.

ProTip: Tell your followers when you’re going to be available to respond to questions and stick to it. It could be a certain time everyday (such as 4PM-5PM), or it could be once every week (such as 12PM-5PM on Fridays). You can also let them know how soon to expect a reply from you. Setting expectations upfront will help your followers understand when they can expect to get help from you.

When your social media followers see you regularly interacting with others on sites like Facebook and Twitter, it helps them feel confident that there are real human beings running the show who actually care.

Example from a Top Ecommerce Brand:

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Pink Blush is a women’s clothing brand that authentically engages and answers questions from prospective customers whenever they post a new update on Facebook.

Pay-to-Play

In order to drive actual sales from social media, you need to be willing and able to spend money on advertising campaigns—this is true for any business trying to get more ROI from sites like Facebook, but especially for ecommerce brands.

If you’re not using social advertising to drive more qualified traffic to your ecommerce store, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

If you’ve only ever used social media as an organic tool and you’re interested in setting up some initial paid campaigns, start with Facebook. Facebook has powerful targeting tools built into their advertising tools, and the cost is relatively low.

Here are some posts to help you get started:

Example from a Top Ecommerce Brand:

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Enso Rings uses the carousel advertisement functionality on Facebook to target consumers who visited their website but did not end up making a purchase.

Go All In on Video

Another great way to cut through the noise and grab the attention of your target audience is by investing more time and resources into video. Online consumers are spending more time than ever before consuming video, and both social media sites and smart brands are reacting accordingly. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and other tools continue to invest more resources into building better tools for creating and sharing video, and brands are using video to engage with and advertise to consumers.

What kind of video should you be creating and sharing with your social media followers? Here are some ideas:

  • Unboxing videos of your products
  • Product promotional videos
  • How-to videos about your products
  • Helpful tips that relate to your industry
  • Storytelling videos that feature your employees and customers
  • Live streaming video that allows you to engage in real-time with followers

To learn more about the power of social video for ecommerce, explore these posts:

Track Everything

Finally, in order to understand which social media strategies are driving the most ROI and sales for your ecommerce business, you need to be tracking and analyzing data on a regular basis. You should be tracking data from within the social media tools themselves, as well as using Google Analytics and any other tools you use to track traffic and conversions as they occur on your website.

Keep track of everything in a master spreadsheet using Excel or Google Sheets.

To drive the most ROI, allocate some time each month to evaluate your metrics and decide what changes you’d like to make to your overall social strategy.

Over to You

Have you seen any good social media campaigns from ecommerce brands lately? Tell me in the comments below.

  • Rob Wormley