Social commerce is a huge, obvious opportunity for most businesses seeking to connect with customers in the modern age. But how do you get there? Here's some inspiration and the steps to take to master you social advertising.
There’s money sitting on your social tables, but you don’t have just to leave it there. Customers are hungry, happy, and ready to buy, you simply need to make it easier for them.
To start with, retailers should realize that 30% of social media users say they would make a purchase through social networks, and the number goes up to 51% for millennials. So, social shopping is definitely worth trying at least.
If we’re honest, it is a lot more than an “at least” element. Social shopping is likely the future of many ecommerce stores because it’s easier to get someone to go to Facebook or Instagram than it is to get them to go to your own website.
And that’s true no matter how big you are. The great news for you larger companies is that new tools can give you the data feed you need to segment audiences and curate content as needed.
Here’s your quick guide to some of the trends that make that statement true, some ways you can capitalize in this space, and a way to create a path to reach hungry customers.
Don’t worry, social commerce is already established
Here’s a stat we grabbed specifically to bring to your marketing department head or anyone in charge of your budget who is trying to skimp on social: 62% of people say they are likely or somewhat likely to purchase a product from a brand they follow on social media.
Having a social presence on social media is the first step to reach your customers. And, that same data shows significant portions of your followers are specifically looking for deals and coupons: 58% of Gen Xers and 60% of Baby Boomers. Nearly 60% of Millennials will start following you before they buy from you.
The best news of all is that you aren’t limited to just social posts. Activity of all kinds counts. So, you can boost sales by having people see your content on social media, including your ads, and by sharing content from followers, friends, celebrities, and more.
*Half of Gen-Z and 42% of Millennials say *social is the most relevant channelto see and engage with ads.
Step 1: Adopt existing tools and channels
Another significant benefit for social shopping being a habit that’s ingrained for your audience is that social networks are embracing it because of the traffic boost. You can see this in a variety of ways, such as how Twitter allows you to target promoted content and the Gifts category on Pinterest.
Instagram’s sponsored posts continue to be a top tool to share products and goods. Retailers have their own channels and some larger brands will also showcase their models and spokespeople. Even if you’re a small retailer, you can do this with fans or people who are popular on the social service for their thoughts and work in your area.
Take a second to look up something that benefits your audience (like makeup tips) on each channel and you’ll get an idea of what works well. A few places to start include:
Visuals play a major role in all of these social networks. They also make a significant difference to the success of a retailer’s website. Keep this in the back of your mind, and we’ll return to it in Step 3.
To achieve success, you’ll want to take a create and cultivate a unique approach for the channels that have content around your market. Create your Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram profile, or your Pinterest board with a focus on your overall brand. Then, cultivate a following through comments, posts, and marketing to generate more awareness.
As this goes on, you can add some of the new social selling tools and buttons.
Don’t forget about the built-in sale options especially on the less obvious channels. Tumblr, for example, has had a buy button for some years, even longer than Instagram’s Shop Now button.
Step 2: refine your process for simplicity
Your next goal after building a social presence is to start making it easy for your customers to buy from you. Specific instructions vary based on your products and your social channels, but there are a few universal things to consider.
Start by segmenting goods and placing a focus on specific items early. Spend time building up sections or individual products with a variety of information. Use your posts or descriptions to answer frequent questions as well as create a shopping-focused CTA.
Now, you’ll want to look for tools for your preferred platform. Seek out options that move the purchase decision as close as possible to the social post. Retailers can find general as well as industry-specific tools that do things like integrate product catalogs on Facebook pages or turn products into pins on Pinterest.
There are similar options that turn your Twitter feed and Instagram posts into shoppable boards that you can curate or highlight with different themes.
Retailers don’t need to build anything from scratch these days, and sometimes that can include your marketing. Tools can integrate with your CRM and order management tools too, automating the follow-up process that asks people to share a product review and hashtag if they liked what you sent.
Step 3: Add social-focused elements
There are plenty of tips and tricks to performing well on social. This step will look at a few that do double-duty in different ways, either increasing your reach or benefiting other efforts like your website.
First and foremost, always give your images a lot of attention. Having scrolled through thousands of luscious instagram images, social media users will be pickier than almost any other audience. That’s why you will also have to get creative with your ad images.
For example, if you’re going to list ads on these websites, use a product data feed management tool to dynamically generate ad images. Instead of posted the same boring ad or having to handcraft each and every one, you can let a tool pull that information and imagery to create an ad specifically for user and scenario. Check out the Productsup Image Designer to see this in action.
On the other hand, you can also leverage your social media followers to make an even bigger impression.
So, if your Insta is killing it, grab the screenshot of a recent post that was popular. Share this on Instagram and say thank you to the fans for reaching whatever arbitrary milestone you can make — this could be any number of followers, comments, likes, etc. Now, take that very same image and post it on the page of whichever product or service is featured in that image.
You’re doing this because customers are six-times more likely to buy a product if the page includes photos or images from social media. Some brands are seeing engagement levels rise by 30% when they combine this tactic with media and images created by users or fans.
You can further reduce friction when transitioning from social to sales pages by having your landing page mirror the color schemes or layout structure of the social channel. That usually means blues for Facebook and Twitter, or large image galleries for Pinterest and Instagram.
Get your users involved
For an added bonus in your efforts, use photos from people who are raving about your products. We already know that positive reviews impact purchase decisions, so double-up by grabbing positive social media comments too. There are even tools to help you find your happy customers and ask them to use the content they create, increasing engagement through interaction.
Ask, interact, and enjoy your customers. Plus, look at what they complain about on social channels. Revamp your ads to address these issues, like promising that you can ship to 99.9% of Americans within three days.
Another cue to take from your audience is the people they follow on each service. Look for people with a large following, called influencers, and see if you can work a marketing deal to get your product featured on their feed or channel.
YouTube haul and unboxing videos (which are an added plus if you’re a retailer who prides itself on smart packaging) generate millions and millions of views each week. If you do a quick search for “haul 2018” on YouTube, not only will the first set of results contain more views than their are people in the top 10 cities in the U.S., but you’ll also get a grand total of roughly 9.87 million different videos on the topic.
And that’s just YouTube. Every social channel has its own unique corners and niches. These are a smart place to look to find your audience as well as the hashtags and topics your audience is actively using.
Step 4: Turn social into customer service channels
We’ve long known that customers complain on social — sometimes to vent and other times to try and get things resolved. You can turn those interactions into a potential sale or at least a repaired relationship if you view social as an extension of your customer support.
Studies show that 90% of followers will try to reach out to a brand on social, often to get support. Looking broader at all social media users in the U.S., nearly 60% say that customer service through social media is easier and more convenient, plus more successful at solving problems.
Designate a team member or hire an outside specialist to run your social feeds from a pure customer-service perspective. Large companies, especially those on Twitter, should create separate accounts just for service support. This directs people away from marketing messages and to someone who specializes in problem resolution. It also allows these companies to have separate teams, so the person trying to help your customer doesn’t have to mess with (or can’t impact) your marketing efforts.
Step 5: Master your ad options and data feed
So you want to master social commerce, but you may not have the time and tools of your competitors. If there’s no time to garner a following or interact with influencers, there are always social ads.
Social ads run on basically every social platform available today, and they all have roughly the same requirements: a product data feed. This is amazing for online retailers and businesses, as they almost by necessity will already have a product data feed. This data will be much like that kept safe in your PIM, except optimized for the specific export channel, for example Facebook or Instagram.
This means mastering social commerce can start--more or less--right now, rather than in several months. All you need to do is get your product data to the right place and start listing ads. However, it’s absolutely crucial that both your data and campaigns are optimized.
Start by checking out the 5 rules of a perfect data feed. Or, learn more about Facebook Dynamic ads here. Once you understand Facebook’s ad requirements, making the jump to other platforms will be easy.
Step 6: The importance of analytics
Now that you’ve got an understanding of what to do and why, let’s touch base on how. Gobble up as much data as you can, looking for tools that help you collect social information, such as what people are clicking on or the products they’re looking at on your social channels.
This data helps you understand your audience and their habits. This information is what should power your ads and marketing messages across all social sites. What’s nice is that there’s plenty of retailer market analysis already available, so you can begin with a broad slice of your potential customer base. Then, use data from early efforts to refine your work.
This might mean that you target Millennial football fans with your clothes. After a while, your data tells you that the purple-and-gold hats you’re selling focus on two major markets: Baltimore, Maryland and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. You’ve just landed college fans of LSU football and pro fans for the Baltimore Ravens--who will both love your color combo.
Your data feed clued you into a big takeaway for your audience, and you can adjust your marketing accordingly. Tweeting and posting about these teams mixed with ads that highlight gear in their colors is going to encourage people to browse your store before the next big game day.
There are plenty of sources you can use to generate data, such as your CRM and ERP, while other tools help you optimize marketing for social, search, or even affiliate options. Pair your data with smart tools that can generate dynamic images, and you’ll be putting your data to work for you in a way that customers enjoy.
Bring it all together
The best way to wrap things up is to get practical. So, here’s an unofficial club for you to pay attention to in your social efforts and use for your initial targeting. While your messaging should be refined by the data feed you generate over the course of your campaign, you need a jumping off point.
If you don’t have existing marketing data, target the 71 Club. It’s a strong majority that can help designate a tipping point in social trends.
- 71% of Americans access a social media platform at least once a month
- 71% of shoppers say positive responses to a social review improve how they perceive a brand
- 71% of customers say they prefer to buy a product if it is referred to them by a friend on a social channel or site.
- 71% of consumers who have a good social media service experience are likely to recommend that brand to others.
- Customers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on a social media referral.
The 71% mark is a great place to start when you think of “most people” do something or feel a certain way. Look for what this cohort is doing and saying, and prioritize your efforts here, at least initially.
Target the people already shopping and spending online before you try to win people over to a new process and a new product. When you put out new product images and ads, look for the ones that generate 71% of your clicks or more.
One final thought based on the current 71 Club is that we’re looking at a social commerce model that’s moving more peer-to-peer, where people depend on each other to talk about your product as much as your marketing. Every retailer must start generating content and efforts that are easy to share and easy for people to own.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing forRed Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.