By Dan Burnham, head of customer success at Volo Commerce.
It's difficult to imagine our lives without social media. In a short space of time, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms have become a powerful way to find information, communicate and shop online.
When it comes to social media's business uses, ecommerce businesses are leading the charge. For example, 351 leading marketing executives were recently asked about social media. On average social media accounted for 9% of their overall spend, a figure that is expected to rise by almost 22% in the coming years. Improvements in social advertising and analytics should mean even higher budgets.
Despite this growth, realistically many ecommerce retailers still struggle with social media. Having a multi-step strategy is important for generating revenue from your social followers. To help, we've created some top tips to build brand awareness, strengthen customer engagement and increase customer insight, as focusing on these areas should drive sales in the long-term.
Planning is everything
Outline what you want to achieve from social media. Be realistic and aware of how long it takes to generate success on some social channels. Is your goal increasing your follower count, driving website traffic or requesting honest user recommendations? Is it building a community so your pool of repeat buyers increases? Be flexible with your plan and adjust everything as you gather more insight into your audience.
Where are your customers?
With any marketing activity, you should understand your customers as much as possible. Where are they from? What are their purchasing preferences? Do they prefer Facebook or YouTube? You can gather this information by asking them with cleverly worded questions via email or by using tools such as trackur or socialmention.
Once you know your customers' social media preferences, focus on speaking their language on the channels they frequent the most.
Be visible where your competitors are
Competitive action is crucial at this stage. Look at what competitors are doing well on social media. Try to understand who their followers are. What's being posted? What content receives likes and shares? How differently are you promoting your business? Don't copy your competitors directly, but do take inspiration from them if they have good ideas.
People want to feel special. Offer your customers something they cannot get elsewhere. Competitions, free shipping and time-limited discounts are all good ideas. Publish regular updates about products that do not appear anywhere else - this will make your customers feel as though they’re part of a select group.
Engagement: Your best tactic
Selling products might be your primary goal, but social media is not just a method to generate sales. Keep in mind it's a communication platform ideal for customer service. Show a human side to your business and respond quickly when people share their frustrations. There are plenty of monitoring tools available that inform you on what people are saying about your brand in real-time.
Images and videos
Without imagery, social media falls flat. Free to use tools like Canva are an easy way to create professional grade visual content in a matter of minutes. Videos are equally powerful, although cost more to create. For a difficult to understand product, video can quickly explain what the product does and how it works.
Metrics on the number of clicks, what was shared, where people are located and the financial impact on your business are crucial if you're to measure how social media is performing. With easy-to-understand reporting, you can learn what works and what doesn't. Always be ready to adapt when new trends emerge.
While there is no single formula for social media success, it is essential to integrate your social activities with your other marketing initiatives and plans. There needs to be a unified approach across the business and a natural tone - after all, social media users are extremely sceptical of social media accounts that are too corporate in tone. With the above tips in mind, your business should see an uplift in sales and more success from the platform.