Back in the day, social media used to be this strange place where millennials go to post what they had for lunch, stalk their crushes and share selfies that they’ll regret in a few years. Although some still use it the same way, we can all agree that social media has become a much bigger thing than any of us predicted.
Especially for online businesses, social media became an effective medium to express brand personality, create profound relationships with customers and reach wider audiences. Nowadays gaining a follower on social media is so valuable for a business that Social Sprout reports, after following a brand 91% of consumers check out the brand’s website or app, 89% make a purchase, and 85% recommend the brand to someone they know.
So it’s safe to say that putting in the time and effort required to build a strong social media presence for your ecommerce business isn’t just smart but it’s also crucial in 2021. So let’s talk about the best tips and practices that will help you master social media for your ecommerce business.
What is social media ecommerce marketing?
Let’s start with the fundamentals, shall we? Social media ecommerce marketing is the strategy of supporting an ecommerce business through social media channels. This can be done in so many different ways based on your brand’s needs and objectives. So the first step should be to determine why you’ve decided to engage in social media marketing and what you’re hoping to achieve with it.
However, while we’re still here, let’s clarify something you might be wondering: Is social ecommerce and social media ecommerce marketing the same thing? Well, despite sounding very confusingly similar, they are two different things.
Social ecommerce is selling your products directly through social media channels like Facebook or Instagram. So as part of your social media ecommerce marketing, you can benefit from social ecommerce and sell your products directly through these platforms.
How to plan a social media ecommerce marketing strategy?
Having a social media presence is so crucial for a business that you might have dived into it without even thinking about the reasons. However, knowing why you’re using a social media platform is necessary to determine your strategy and achieve a valuable outcome.
And there could be a number of reasons why a business is present on social media. Here are some common objectives to give you an idea:
- Just to have a presence on a platform (there is no shame in that!)
- Creating a brand personality and building relevant associations
- Strengthening relationships with customers and improving after-sales service
- Creating brand awareness and increasing followers
- Attracting new customers and boosting sales
- Collaborating with other accounts and creating new business opportunities
- Collecting data through social listening and improving the product
Once you decide which objectives serve your overall business strategy, you should determine some outcomes to measure your success a.k.a. KPIs.
In the beginning, you might not be sure what metrics are relevant or how to evaluate the numbers so just start by analyzing your competitors and the key industry players. Don’t just attribute importance to random metrics without thinking about what they represent and how much the algorithm favors them.
For example, “likes” used to be the main determinant for good social media performance but as platforms started to attribute less importance to them, they became irrelevant. Now interactions that signal a deeper engagement such as saves and shares are the main indicators of how your posts’ will perform on the feed.
So it’s important to keep up with the way algorithms work as they change quite often and impact your performance greatly. Once you start implementing your social media strategy, you’ll get a better understanding of what success looks like for your business and then you can adjust your KPIs accordingly.
Best social media platforms for ecommerce
When it comes to promoting your business through social media, not all platforms are equal. So instead of focusing on the most popular networks, research where your target audience spends time online. For example, Pinterest could work great for a fashion ecommerce store that targets millennial women, whereas Twitter might be the better option for a business that sells electronics and targets senior men.
So let’s take a look at some of the biggest social media platforms, understand their differences, and see which one can help you find and engage with your target audience best.
With 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook is still the largest social media platform out there and also the first one to offer advertising options for businesses. Although the user demographic has changed over the years, based on your target audience Facebook could be the ideal platform for your business.
Currently, the platform is used mostly by men (56%), and almost 90% of the users are living outside of the US and Canada. Countries like India, Indonesia, and Brazil have over 100 million Facebook users and the Middle East is the fastest-growing region for Facebook.
According to SocialBakers fashion, auto and ecommerce are the top 3 industries that garner the most interaction on Facebook. In any case, it’s advisable to have an active Facebook profile for any ecommerce store because customers usually expect businesses to be present on the platform to provide them with further information and customer service.
Instagram is a close runner-up with over 1 billion monthly active users but it isn’t as text-heavy when compared to some other social media platforms. So if you’d like to use Instagram to promote your business, make sure that your visual content is top quality!
Instagram is used slightly more by women (50.8%) and it’s the most popular social media platform among teens. The top countries are the USA, India, Brazil and 73% of U.S. teens believe that it’s the best way for brands to reach them about new products or promotions — take note if your target audience is the younger demographic.
And if you’re looking to collaborate with influencers, Instagram is the right place as there are 500,000 active influencers you can choose from and businesses can make as much as $5.20 for every $1 invested!
When it comes to the top industries, travel, beauty, and fashion brands dominate the platform with their visually appealing content. However, almost all ecommerce brands can benefit from showing more aspects of their products through pictures and videos on Instagram so it should definitely be a consideration.
Twitter might not be the first platform that comes to mind when you think about promoting your ecommerce business but for many brands, it can be a match made in heaven. The majority of Twitter users are male (63.7%) and it’s the top social media platform in Japan.
Unlike other platforms, Twitter users visit their feed mainly to get the latest news and informative content. So if your ecommerce business has a strong brand personality and you’d like to become an industry authority, Twitter might be the best place to build your community.
Although it’s a bit trickier to promote your business through Twitter, 93% of users are open to brands getting involved if done so in the right way. So instead of just sharing about your product and its benefits, be more personal and try to share content that would prompt your followers to interact with your brand.
For example, Amazon’s Alexa sets a great example of how brands can use Twitter to increase engagement — as their 1.1 million followers would agree!
Although it has fewer users than other social media platforms, Pinterest is an important channel for ecommerce. According to Oberlo, it’s the second-largest source of social media traffic to Shopify stores and 93% of users use Pinterest to plan their purchases which makes it a gold mine for ecommerce businesses.
Among 250 million active monthly users, women make up the majority by 80%, however, the male audience also grew 40% in 2020. The top categories on Pinterest are food&drink, home decor, and travel, while the most popular search is “the holidays.”
Each year, 439 million pins are saved for Valentine’s Day and 183 million pins are saved during New Year’s. So if you have a holiday special product or promotion, you know where to go!
TikTok is undiscovered territory for many businesses but considering the popularity of the platform, it holds great potential to become the next big thing for the ecommerce industry. It was the most downloaded app in 2020 with more than 2 billion downloads and it keeps on growing exponentially.
To make it more attractive for businesses, TikTok is working on implementing ecommerce features that will allow merchants to sell directly to users. This will be a big motivator for businesses to enter the platform and post content to reach more customers.
The video-sharing platform even announced its partnership with Shopify that will allow merchants to run promotions on TikTok, which they can create within their Shopify dashboard. So it might be a good idea for ecommerce businesses to join the platform early and start building a following before the competition gets stiff!
Best practices for using social media for ecommerce
Social media is key for ecommerce success but it doesn’t happen by chance. From posting schedule to content type, every detail plays a big role in how well your business will perform on social media. And there are different rules when it comes to ecommerce so let’s take a look at some of the best social media ecommerce practices that you should know about.
Being active and posting regularly
Social media is relentless — don’t post for a while and you’re already forgotten. And I get it, it can get hard to come up with interesting content ideas (more on it later) and post regularly but consistency is crucial for social media success. And luckily, there are social media management tools that can help you automate the process.
If you’re wondering how regularly you should be posting on social media as an ecommerce business, most studies agree that once per day is optimal. Hubspot even found that pages under 10,000 followers experience a 50% drop in engagement per post if they posted more than once a day and 46% of users unfollow a brand because of excessive posting. So don’t overwhelm your followers with unnecessary content and instead, focus on making your posts engaging.
And choose your posting time wisely as it can also affect the performance. For optimal results, it’s safe to prioritize morning hours during the weekdays. But this isn’t a strict rule and it can vary depending on your unique follower base. Therefore, don’t be afraid to experiment with different timings and compare results to find the formula that works best for you.
Creating valuable and engaging content
This is probably one of the most challenging parts of social media management but it’s also the make it or break it element. Your posts will be the voice of your brand so it deserves the effort you’ll put into them. If you’re not sure about what to share, here are some social media post ideas for ecommerce businesses with examples to give you inspiration!
- Product pictures
Okay, I can hear you say “duh!” but hear me out. One of the biggest drawbacks for customers when it comes to online shopping is the fact that they can’t see or touch the product. But thanks to social media, you can turn this into a strength by sharing photos of your products in different ways, locations, and concepts that customers wouldn’t be able to see in store.
So for example don’t just show your bags but give your followers ideas on how they can be styled with different looks and for different events. Or instead of just explaining how your blender works, shake things up a bit and post a video that shows how to make the best summer smoothie with it.
Product pictures can also be used strategically to attract target audiences with visual associations. Let’s say you’re selling snack bars and you’d like to promote your brand as a healthy option to fitness enthusiasts. Then using photos that show your product in the right context can do the trick as this will allow your target audience to relate to your offering.
- User-Generated Content
This one is not just convenient but it’s also a very effective way of diversifying your feed and reassuring doubtful customers. In fact, a study found that user-generated content is 85% more influential than content made by a brand!
So don’t be shy and ask your customers to post photos with your products and share their experiences. By resharing this content, you don’t only encourage others to buy too but you’re also strengthening your relationship with your current customers — so it’s a win-win situation!
You can even work with influencers to reach wider audiences and boost your sales. Research shows that influencer marketing is worth investing in with 49% of consumers depending on influencer recommendations for shopping.
- Behind the scenes
Even from business accounts, followers would like to see more personal content on social media — after all, it’s “social” media. Imagine knowing only the products versus knowing the employees, the core values, and the story of a brand. This is where social media ecommerce marketing shows its real value and allows you to build more profound connections with your customers.
And if you need inspiration for behind-the-scenes content ideas, try to think of your brand as a person and not as a business. For example, give people a glimpse of your daily work life, introduce the members of your team, or even share your failures and struggles.
Here is an example from our very own social media — even though we’re not an ecommerce company, this type of content could work for any business that would like to show a more human side of their brand to followers.
So don’t be afraid to show everyone your goofy, fun, real side behind your slick ecommerce store. This human element will make your business more relatable and customers’ trust and loyalty to your business will increase as a result.
Social listening and customer service
Another benefit of social media for ecommerce businesses is that it allows you to join the conversation whether it be with a prospect, an unsatisfied customer, or your fans. This also gives you the opportunity to track and analyze customer behavior and therefore come up with ways to improve your business.
Moreover, social media is an important customer service channel as people prefer contacting brands through social media over using traditional ways. Hootsuite found that 64% of people would rather send a message than call a business, so make sure to check your inbox regularly! But beware that customers can also make things public and communicate with you through the comments.
If they are only reaching out to praise you for your amazing products and responsive customer service, then great! But unfortunately, as we all know that’s not always the case. And if there is anything worse than a negative comment, it’s a negative comment left unanswered.
Although your first instinct might be to ignore these types of comments or maybe even delete them (a big no-no!), know that you can actually turn these situations to your advantage with the right response. By even just answering negative comments, you show your followers that you’re taking responsibility for the issues that might occur and it will ensure them that you’ll be reachable if they have a problem in the future.
Finally, you can learn a lot by looking at what your competitors are doing and listening to their customers’ feedback. Social media can let you in on insights about your competitors that you might not have been able to learn otherwise, so take advantage of it! See what they get wrong to avoid the same mistakes and catch up on their best practices by implementing them in your business as well.
Social media SEO and hashtags
This is usually forgotten but social media platforms are search engines too — so it only makes sense that you look for ways to implement SEO into your social media strategy. Users search for relevant keywords and hashtags when they are looking for your products so you should make sure that your content will show up.
But what works for your website, might not work on social media when it comes to SEO. Each platform usually has its own terminology and abbreviations for different industries so research what keywords and hashtags are used for yours first. Then make sure to use the right ones for each post so your target audience can easily find them.
You can also tag other relevant accounts to get interaction and show up on their followers’ discovery feed. This is a great way of unlocking partnership opportunities and increasing your follower base. You can start by looking into what other brands your followers are interacting with and look for ways to connect with them.
Also, an unexpected benefit of social media SEO is its positive impact on your brand’s search rankings. Although there is no direct link between the two (not officially at least), you can still use social media features to lead traffic to your website and increase mentions about your brand online which will contribute to your ranking.
Localization — as we mentioned time and again on this blog — is the process of adapting a product/offering/content for a specific market. This is important because users favor brands that are tailored to their linguistic and cultural preferences.
Even small gestures like celebrating holidays and important events can go a long way when it comes to winning international followers on social media. Moreover, this provides opportunities to promote products at strategic times and boost sales.
However, be extra careful to be culturally sensitive and avoid offending your followers. This is tricky because what might look innocent to you could be offensive to someone from another country. Therefore, it’s important to research cultural sensitivities beforehand and omit any content that is questionable.
The same considerations apply to your social media translations too. Thanks to the recent updates, most platforms offer automatic translation for captions and stories, allowing brands to connect with followers all over the world. As useful as these translation features are, they might also cause misunderstandings if left unchecked.
Especially for social media where the language can include elements like humor, satire, or wordplay, machine translation can fail to deliver error-free results. So it’s preferable to have someone who speaks the language (even better, knows the culture) provide the translations.
Until social media allows users to edit the automatic translations — just like Weglot! — it’s best practice to add your own translations to posts/stories. Although it might require some extra time and effort, this will ensure that your message conveys the intended meaning and delivers results.
And finally, it’s important to make sure that your website is ready to serve the international followers that will be coming from your social media channels. If you’re not sure which language options you should provide, check your social media analytics to see a breakdown of your audience demographics and locations. By localizing the customer journey from beginning to end, you’ll maximize your chances of conversion.
Mastering social media might look like an easy task considering toddlers can become influencers nowadays and the highest number of likes belong to an egg, but it actually requires a lot of effort from brands as you know now.
It’s important to be strategic and professional but at the end of the day, social media is about being sociable. So don’t be afraid to show the more human side of your brand and connect with your customers in a more friendly way. As long as you follow our tips and best practices, your ecommerce business has a lot to gain from social media marketing.
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