Social media is now an integral part of almost every consumer's online habits. Statistics abound about it's popularity and it's potential as a means of driving new visitors to your website, yet many businesses are still failing to turn their social media efforts into profits. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that only 12 percent of businesses feel that they are using social media effectively.
Part of this social stalemate may be due to a lack of clear strategy and focus for social campaigns, and part may be simply that social media is not an ideal marketing channel for every business. Before designing a comprehensive strategy to leverage your presence on social media you should decide if it is a worthwhile investment of time and effort for your business.
You should also understand what social media can add to your business other than direct sales. There are many great reasons to maintain profiles on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram such as an extension of customer service, a way to build brand awareness, a place to improve customer engagement and a way to gain insight into what your customers care about. Indirectly, all of these things can contribute to a rise in overall sales.
Ultimately, making your social media strategy a success will require a commitment of resources. There is nothing more detrimental to your social strategy than only giving it a fraction of the attention it requires. The five tips below will help you develop a successful social media strategy for your ecommerce website.
1. Engage with Your Audience
Build social media into every aspect of your ecommerce website, from login to product reviews to the sales funnel. Allow your customers to use an existing social profile to log in, cutting down on necessary registration steps and therefore increasing conversion.
Make sure your homepage, product pages and order confirmation pages all have easy social sharing buttons. Don't underestimate the power of a simple social share. Endorsements from customers are far more powerful than any copy you could write yourself. Let your customers be your brand advocates and make it easy for them to review or give ratings to your products.
2. Avoid Overselling
Many businesses who struggle to engage their audience on social media are guilty of being too self-serving in their posts. While sharing special sales and new items is great, these types of promotional posts should only make up a small percentage of your content. Instead, look to engage your audience without selling to them. Include a mixture of contests, inspiration and tips. Ask questions and encourage discussions and sharing of ideas.
Experts recommend an 80/20 ratio, with just 20 percent of your content being promotional in nature and the remaining 80 percent consisting of content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations.
Think about what your customers are interested in. While current events or popular TV shows may seem off topic to your business, social media is a great way to show your customers that you are in touch with their interests.
3. Get Visually Creative
Across all social media platforms photographs possess the highest sharing potential. Photo sites such as Instagram and Pinterest are a perfect fit for ecommerce businesses selling products such as clothing or home accessories, but that doesn't mean they don't have a place in the social campaigns of other types of businesses. With a bit of creative thinking any brand can find a meaningful way to create and share visually appealing content.
Quotes, infographics, motivational images and usage examples are all types of visual content that should be considered. And don't forget about acknowledging and sharing content that your consumers have shared. Reposting an image from a consumer using your product not only engages new customers but strengthens your relationships with existing customers as well.
4. Measure and Improve
One of the best things about social media marketing campaigns is the amount of information available about it's performance. Measure your activity across all platforms to find out the best times to post, what types of content get the best engagement and even which products are most popular. You can then use this data to improve your website and refine your social media activities.
Keeping your eye on the statistics and continually experimenting and refining your strategy is a sure way to keep your audience engaged and to stay in front of your competition.
5. Sweeten the Deal
The key to a successful social media marketing campaign is to think about what you can offer your customers rather than focusing on getting them to make a purchase.
People love to feel special. Entice and reward your social following with exclusive offers and bonuses. Keep the love flowing and see how it turns into customer loyalty. You don't have to do anything fancy -- a simple "Thanks!" can go a long way in showing your customers, and your potential customers, that you appreciate their business.
You don't have to wait until your social followers make a purchase to show your generosity of spirit. Keep your posts helpful and run sweepstakes or giveaways to give people clear incentives to be one of your fans.
Social media marketing is all about knowing your customers. Be smart, focused and consistent in your efforts and never stop measuring results to see how you can increase your success. If you are looking to start an online store or you're already an experienced ecommerce retailer but want to make sure you are handling the fundamentals, this checklist for ecommerce websites is a great resource.