A Guide to Social Media for eCommerce Brands

With the growing prominence of social media being used in retail, as well as our personal lives, it’s no surprise that more and more eCommerce businesses are beginning to see the value of a social media strategy. And when 93% of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media, whether they realise it or not, social is increasingly becoming a channel that eCommerce brands can’t ignore.


Engage with your audience

When engaging with a company on social media, the most important thing they look for is a direct response to their questions. The most important factor in influencing consumers to shop with an eCommerce brand is getting them to trust you, so you need to ensure that you're always on hand to deliver the same level of customer service on social as you would over the phone. Not only will you retain the individual customer, you’ll show new followers that you’re a trustworthy and helpful brand. If you wouldn’t ignore a customer in private, you shouldn’t ignore them in public.

Even if you receive a message that isn’t a direct question - respond to it. Proactively engaging with your followers on social media will show them that you’re a brand that cares about its customers. A great example of this is Contextly:

contently tweets

The tweet they received wasn’t a question, or a complaint, and Contextly could easily have scrolled by, but instead were proactive in their approach. This positive response didn’t go unnoticed, and resulted in a customer who was confident in their interest in their customers, and who even wrote about the exchange as an example of standout customer service.


Encourage reviews

Chances are, your customers will trust other customers’ word over yours as a brand (of course you think your products are great) - so encouraging your happy customers to talk about their experience on social can be highly beneficial.

88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations, so if you have a Facebook page set up where your customers can leave a review, make sure you encourage them to do so. Setting up emails to send to your customers a couple of weeks after they place an order prompting them to visit your Facebook page and leave a quick review can be a straightforward and effective way to increase the number of reviews you receive. There’s no harm in asking - just as long as you don’t ask too often!

An example of a brand that uses Facebook to collect customer reviews is independent comic book store, OK Comics, whose Facebook reviews section is shown below. Just by having a star rating of 4.8, with a total of 198 reviews, shows new customers immediately that they are a trustworthy brand.

facebook reviews

No matter which sector you operate in, if you pick up on someone talking about your brand on social, be sure to share it. Just because a post isn’t left in your reviews section, doesn’t mean it’s not a review, so be sure to retweet, like, and share anything that speaks positively about your brand - and don’t forget to thank the customer.

The more positive messages about your company new potential customers see, the less likely they are to be influenced by fear of your products not living up to expectation.


Talk to influencers

Often, brands think of working with influencers as something to be left to larger brands - not everyone can afford to work with the ‘Zoellas’ of the world, but interacting with influencers (albeit with a slightly smaller audience) or other local companies can be great for business.

Identifying who the influencers in your industry are, and following them on social and interacting with them from time to time can work wonders in getting your brand on their radar, and increasing brand awareness.

However, if you’re happy to pay influencers to talk about your brand on social, then this can be a sure-fire way to reach a wider audience, and gain a positive shout out from the right people.

For example, THINK PUP, who sell t-shirts aimed at dog owners, used sponsored posts from relevant Instagram users to raise awareness for their eCommerce store.

instagram post

By identifying users such as corgis_of_instagram, who had substantial numbers of followers with a shared love of corgis, THINK PUP, as shown above, were able to pay them to promote their corgi themed t-shirts to an engaged audience. And creating an account purely for this t-shirt, where the corgis_of_instagram audience could be directed to, to link to the promoted shirt’s product page on their site, meant that the customer journey was as streamlined as possible.

The post above saw 46 clicks to the THINK PUP website, and 2 sales, resulting in a conversion rate of 4.36%. For a start up business, and Instagram beginners, the sponsored post proved successful in increasing brand awareness and directly prompting sales.

Working with influencers who have a very specific audience, and focusing on promoting one or two products that are the most relevant to this audience will prevent your messages from being diluted or lost, and when you get your influencer partnerships right, they can cause a boost in sales, and even an increase in returning customers.


Keep it interesting

On social media, you’re competing with everyone else in your followers’ timelines and news feeds - if your posts don’t stand out then they can easily go unnoticed.

Using high quality, eye catching imagery or video will make your social activity significantly more noticeable for your followers scrolling down their timelines, and will be much more engaging than purely using text once you’ve caught their attention.

On top of this, while of course you want to promote your business and drive customers to your products, remember that you’re on social, so you need to keep your activity social. Consumers don’t want to be sold to on social media, so instead of going in for the hard sell, focus your social activity on communicating your brand values, sharing customer success stories, helpful tips, providing customer service, and most importantly, building relationships.


Use targeted ads

The one place on social media where you can go all in with pushing your products is through social advertising. While consumers don’t want to see you selling to them in your social posts, they expect to see it in ad space, so taking advantage of this can prove to be very effective for driving traffic to your eCommerce store.

To promote your products and drive traffic to your website, Facebook Carousel ads are a great way to present your products to your target audience. Carousel allows you to upload multiple images, or even include video, to a single ad, which users can click through to your website. An example of a Carousel ad from Etihad Airways can be seen below.

sponsored ad

Social ads can also be used for remarketing to previous customers and website visitors through Facebook, giving brands the ability to create custom audiences. This option gives you the ability to install the ‘Facebook pixel’ on your site as a whole, or to individual pages, to capture traffic so that you can create ads which directly target the people who have already shown an interest in your brand.

When you consider this alongside the ability to target your ads by age, gender, location, behaviour and interest, social advertising has proven that it can often be much more effective in driving relevant traffic to your eCommerce store than offline advertising or other forms of digital advertising.

The audiences you can reach through social advertising can be defined much more specifically than with other forms of advertising (both digital and offline). When you combine the in depth targeting with the analytics tools that you can use to monitor and report on the performance of your ads, the effectiveness and value of using this form of advertising to promote your eCommerce store can be clearly seen.


Hold competitions

When it comes to building a social following of relevant potential customers, one of the most effective ways to do this is by holding competitions.

Creating a competition with a theme that is relevant to your target audience, and providing a prize that fits this theme (four tickets to a local theme park to attract parents, for example), as well as a gift card that the winner can redeem on your online store will attract your target audience and bring it back to the brand.


Identify which platforms to use

While knowing how to use social is all well and good, no two businesses are the same, so you need to identify which social platforms are the best choice for your company before you dive in headfirst.

It’s safe to assume that your business will benefit from using Twitter. Pretty much everyone, from consumers to businesses, are active on Twitter, so it can be equally effective for both B2C and B2B eCommerce.

After this, you need to think about who your customers are - are they professionals or individuals? How old are they? And most importantly - where are they? If you’re a fashion retailer, with a target audience of 13 - 18 year olds, LinkedIn isn’t going to be their platform of choice, so being active there won’t help you, and you’d see much better results on Facebook. However if you operate a B2B eCommerce business, and are targeting directors and office managers, then LinkedIn would be an appropriate choice.

But when should you use other platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat?

For both of these platforms, businesses that have attractive products, and can really focus on the visuals, will thrive. And while Instagram is a little more diverse in its users, both platforms tend to attract a mostly younger audience, so again, this is something you need to consider before you choose to set up an account.

snapchat

If you do want to use Snapchat to market your business, the nature of the platform means that it’s a great platform to use if you want to crease a sense of exclusivity. From showing behind the scenes of big events like Michael Kors (pictured above), to sneak peeks of new products, when used with the right audience in mind, Snapchat can be effective in building excitement.


In summary

When using social media for your eCommerce business, you are in the best place to, not only reach a wider audience through partnering with influencers and local businesses, you can establish valuable relationships with the customers you already have, in a way that you can’t anywhere else.

If you’d like to learn more about how social media can benefit your eCommerce business, tweet us @Statement or get in touch, and we’ll be happy to give you some advice.

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