It’s an inescapable fact that if you have an online store you need to be killing it on social media. Over 50% of Facebook and Twitter users in the US say they are more likely to buy or recommend from a brand that they already follow on one or both of the big social sites, according to a study by Chadwick Martin Bailey.
And with Facebook accounting for one out of every five pageviews on the Internet (Experian) you will be left out in the cold like a long-haired labrador at a pet allergy sufferer’s convention if you aren’t popping up regularly in your customer’s newsfeeds.
Now I know that within your own circles, you’re the social media king. You once got 64 likes and 30 retweets for that photo of your cat you Instagrammed. I get it.
But creating great results via social media on a consistent basis, and converting kudos to cold hard cash, is another matter entirely. In this must-read article for every ecommerce store owner, I’m going to share my best social media strategies for doing just that.
Know Where Your Customers Are Hanging Out
We’re quick to assume that everyone’s on social media these days, but if you’re running a serious business, you don’t care about ‘everyone’.
Any ecommerce store worth its salt will have a specific target market or demographic. You have created an audience profile, right?
Your first step to social media mastery is to get a better idea of where your specific audience are hanging out and how often. What you need to look out for will depend on your business, but even by gender there are big differences. According to iMedia Connection, Women are much heavier users of Pinterest and are also slightly more likely to use Facebook and Twitter whilst men are the predominate users of LinkedIn and Google+.
Which means you’ll need a different strategy depending on whether you’re selling satirical t-shirts to tech-savvy teenage boys or soft furnishings to ladies in their over-40s. Once you have a better idea of this you can dramatically increase your chances of having your updates appear in the right place at the right time, in front of the right eyes.
Know your why
Once you have the attention of your target audience, you want them to recognise how good a match your ecommerce offering is with their desires and values. This means you’d better have a good story ready about why your store exists and how it can help them.
It’s amazing how many people think that merely setting up a few social media profiles will lead to sales. That’s a completely incorrect assumption which will lead to only one thing – disappointment and zero profit.
Get your story straight and define your unique selling proposition, and you will attract your ideal customers like bees to nectar. Toms Shoes is a great example – for every pair bought, they give away a pair of shoes to a child in need. Now Smile Squared are doing the same with their biodegradeable bamboo toothbrushes. They give people with similar values a cause to support and a sense of community, and stand out amongst the hundreds of competing brands.
Use Great Content as Bait
Social media represents an ocean of potential customers who you want to tempt to your online store, but trying to sell to them directly rarely converts. To get their attention, you need a hook, and preferably a hook with something nice and shiny and attractive on the end of it. This is essentially the idea behind content marketing.
You need to invest in great content, such as informative blog posts and high quality images and video, and share it consistently. If it’s good, people will start to share it amongst themselves and you will start to build a following.
More and more potential customers will begin to like your Facebook page or follow all your Pinterest boards. Now’s the time to reel them in. Use tailored incentives to get them to check out what you’re selling and sign up to your email newsletter, for example a special introductory offer for new subscribers.
You could also offer specific promotions only for followers of your social media profiles, giving them an incentive to click the like or follow button in the first place.
You can also use social media as a free, highly insightful form of market research, simply by engaging with your customers and asking for their opinions about your products and their experience using your site. This has the added bonus of creating buzz on your profiles and building trust.
Build relationships (with influencers)
The secret sauce to social media is that those who are successful have a strong network behind the scenes. It’s their links to the big influencers on each platform that makes their content spread far and wide. Each time someone shares your content, they are introducing you to their audience, and if you are in a similar niche the odds are you will reach many more ideal customers than you could have done on your own.
Equally, nothing sells like good word of mouth buzz or personal recommendations. Consider arranging celebrity endorsements or partnering with the top bloggers in your niche.
There are many ways to find influencers online. You can identify relevant people or brands with a large amount of followers by searching by a specific on Twitter and Facebook. There are also a number of services such as Klout, WeFollow.com and PeerIndex which use increasingly sophisticated algorithms to determine who is most influential and how engaged their followers are with what they are saying online.
You can also use sites like alltop.com to identify the top blogs in your niche, and then compare how many email and RSS subscribers they have or how many comments they receive per post.
Create a buzz
Other ways to create buzz around your ecommerce store are to hold a competition or giveaway. These are ten a penny these days so try and offer a prize which has the wow factor, and make entry as easy as possible (preferably involving sharing the competition further on their own social media profiles). The bigger the prize, the bigger the buzz.
You can also consider integrating social media sharing tools into your site and store in order to encourage customers to share/recommend their purchases with friends and family.
Questions and Comments
I hope that’s a useful introduction to how you can use social media to drive customers to your store. Please share your input and any questions you might have in the comments section – any feedback you have will help us shape the content of this site and also to get to know you!
Here are the questions we have for you. What questions do you have for us?
- Do you have a social media strategy for your ecommerce store?
- Which social media sites are working best for you in terms of customer engagement and driving traffic to your store?
- What are your biggest current struggles when it comes to using social media to attract sales?