Yes, we all know social media is important for generating engagement (and sales) for your brand. However, many online merchants who are just getting started with their online store don’t quite understand exactly how to use social media for business, or even how impactful it can be:
- Customers spend 20-40% more with companies that they’ve engaged with on social media
- Online stores with a social presence have 32% more sales on average vs. stores without one
- Customers who have positive social media interactions with brands are 3x more likely to recommend that brand
Before we get into more specific strategies for using social media for your ecommerce business, let’s run through a few essential pro tips that you should keep in mind as you get started:
- Identify which platforms you want to use. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are good places to start, but don’t sleep on YouTube, Twitter, and other platforms that may be a better fit for your brand. Think about the general audience that you’re looking to engage with, as well as the type of content that you plan on sharing. Are you going to be publishing tutorial videos? Quotes and sayings that align with your brand’s mission? Blog articles? Who specifically is likely to engage with the type of content you plan on publishing? This approach will better inform which platforms you should be focusing on, as you certainly don’t need to adopt them all.
- Make sure that your branding, products, and company info are consistent across all platforms. Before you start publishing, run through your profiles and ensure that all the elements of your business are presented in a consistent way. Your brand should be recognizable from one platform to the next, and that includes your product listings, profile images, your bio and general brand voice. While the content itself may differ, it’s critical that each platform accurately calls back to what your brand is about, so as not to confuse consumers.
- Connect your social accounts with your site, and even with each other. Jumping from your site to your social accounts and vice versa should be seamless and should be encouraged, so be sure that your links are all set up and working properly. You may also want to add tracking, so you can tell which social platforms are driving the most traffic. Additionally, you may want to consider using a comprehensive social management tool, which would allow you to post to multiple social accounts from one centralized location.
Once you’ve taken care of the basics, you’re ready to jump in and begin building up your social game. Let’s dive into some specific ways you can get started with social media for your ecommerce business.
Get your social accounts set up
This may seem obvious, but it’s vital that your social accounts are properly set up for business, and we find that many online merchants who are just starting out miss some of the basics. Here are specific steps for getting your accounts set up on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest:
- Sign up by going to facebook.com/business and clicking on Create a Page. From there, you’ll be taken through several guided steps that ask what type of business you are (most of our merchants select Brand or Product), as well as sub-categories and contact info. Once you’re done, click Get Started.
- Add photos including a cover photo (820 x 312 pixels) and profile photo (360 x 360 pixels). Be sure they are visually appealing and align with your brand’s mission. If you don’t have any of your own images yet, there are plenty of free and easy tools to help you find and/or create them.
- Add additional company info by adding a short description, completing your about section, and creating a username. The short description (click Add a Short Description on your page) can only be 155 characters long, so be brief and include a clear description of what you’re all about. You should also add a longer description of your business by clicking Edit Story on the right side of your page, which is another opportunity to explain why consumers should follow you.
Your about section is important to complete right off the bat, as it’s often the first place your potential customers will look. Click About on the left-hand side of your page, and start adding specific info about your business including contact info, other social accounts, website URL, etc.
You should also create a custom username — what appears after the “@” and as part of your Facebook Page’s URL — to make it easier for people to find you (keep it the same as your Instagram account if applicable). Click Create a Username for Your Page to set it up.
- You’ll be prompted to find Facebook friends and contacts, which you should absolutely do, but it’s best to do this once you have some content added to your page. When the time comes, click on Community in the left column of your page, then click Invite your friends to like [page name].
- Download the app and create a new account using your business email address (don’t connect it to your personal Facebook account).
- Create a username, which should be your company name, or as close as you can get to it
- Add a photo and edit your profile by going to your profile page and tapping Edit your Profile. Here, you’ll be able to add a profile photo (should be the same as your Facebook profile photo), add a bio and website link. Keep your bio brief, but use this space as an opportunity to explain what you have to offer and where it’s available.
- Connect to your Facebook Business Page (assuming you set up your Facebook page first) by tapping on the profile icon on the bottom-right, then tapping the settings icon near the top-right. From there, scroll down and tap on Linked Accounts and then Facebook. You should be able to select your Facebook Business Page from here (you’ll need to be logged into FB on whichever device you’re using for this to work), and you’ll then be asked to allow Instagram to post to your Facebook page. Tap Ok, and you’ll be taken back to your Share Settings where you can edit how your Instagram content is shared over to Facebook when you post.
- Complete your profile setup by adding your email address, phone number, and/or your physical business address, then tap Done.
- First, go to Pinterest’s business page and enter your email, password, business name, business type and website URL.
- Set up basic settings by editing your profile to include basic contact info, a profile photo, as well as your business description and website (which you should already have from setting up your other social accounts).
- Confirm your website (also in Edit Profile section), which will allow you to track any content that people pin from your site. Thankfully, Pinterest does a good job of walking you through this step-by-step (it’s easy).
- Connect your other social accounts by going to Settings, then Social Networks, then selecting each social account you wish to connect. Each will prompt you to authorize, but from there you’re all set!
Start testing different types of content
It will take some time to figure out which types of content yield the most engagement. Luckily, you can jumpstart this process by using a content calendar (next section of this article) to start testing different things. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Post a contest to encourage a more interactive experience. Think of creative ways to present a giveaway or sweepstakes to your followers. Not only will this drive more engagement, it may also offer further incentive for your consumers to actually pull the trigger on some of your products.
- Sampling. Similarly, launch a sampling campaign, where you offer a sample of your product in exchange for honest feedback. Especially for shops that are just getting started, this is a surefire way to not only gain insights into how you can improve your products, but also generate reviews - which can then be repurposed as content for future social posts.
- Behind-the-scenes content. Create a more authentic experience that more deeply resonates with your followers by showing them who’s behind the brand, and what work goes into building it. Sharing photos, live videos, and other “behind the scenes” content will help humanize your brand, and let your followers feel like they have exclusivity.
- User-generated content (UGC). We mentioned reviews, but any sort of content that shows consumers and your product(s) in action will significantly boost your store’s credibility in the market. User-generated content is 20% more influential than any other type of media when it comes to influencing millennial purchases, and 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchase decision.
Build out a content calendar
Taking care of this upfront will save you a ton of time and energy, so you’re not left to scramble at the last minute to find something interesting to post. Plan your social posts a month out, including specific messaging, images, what the Call To Action will be, send date/time, etc. You can use a regular calendar tool or, as we mentioned above, a social media management tool. The latter, depending on which tool you go with, will even let you schedule your posts ahead of time on each platform, so all you have to do is set it up and press “Go”. It sounds like a lot, but it takes less time than you think, and is much faster than trying to post on the go.
This will also help you test what’s working and what’s not. Specifically, having a calendar will let you understand which days of the week/times of the day are most effective for engagement, or how often per week you should be posting to which platform. By having a top-level view of what’s being published on your social accounts, you can more easily identify areas of opportunity, and adapt accordingly.
Expand Your Reach and Find Your Niche with Ads
Thankfully, social platforms do a really good job at helping like-minded people find each other. As an online merchant, this translates to the ability to search for, identify and connect with your target audience. Of course, since there are over 2.5 billion social media users, it will take some time to find this audience. There are plenty of tools to help you get there, however, and social ads are a great place to start.
Initially, you may want to consider setting up Facebook Pixel, which connects with your Volusion store and tracks consumer site behavior such as when someone completes a purchase, initiates a checkout, adds something to their cart, and more. Pixel applies this customer data back to Facebook, allowing you to better target (and retarget) consumers through Facebook ads.
Beyond Pixel, running ads on Facebook makes sense for many additional reasons. First and foremost, it’s still by far the biggest social platform out there, and they have an unbelievable amount of user data (for better or worse), which in-turn yields very cost-effective advertising (advertisers currently are reporting a cost-per-lead of around $1). It’s scalable as well, so you can set your daily/weekly/monthly budget to be as little or as much as you want. Furthermore, as we alluded to, Facebook’s ad targeting is far more advanced than any other platform out there, making it an idea place to test.
Facebook may have the user numbers, but Instagram ads are actually much more efficient, as engagement rates are said to be 58% higher than Facebook ads. You’re still able to pull in Pixel data as well for IG ads, making it seamless to search custom audiences (and create lookalike audiences based on them). Additionally, one thing that’s unique to Instagram advertising is its ability to capitalize on impulse. Especially with “Buy Now” functionality (which is also available on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter), consumers are able to make a purchase without even having to leave their social feed. Mix that with a user-base of impulsive shoppers and appealing visual content, and you have yourself a recipe for conversions.
The bottom line is, there are a ton of options when it comes to using social media for your ecommerce business. As we’ve mentioned many times before, it’s important to start small to ensure that you’re being consistent with your efforts. Build out a content calendar that works for you, start publishing different types of content to gain a better understanding for what works and what doesn’t. From there, you can experiment with advertising to identify your audience and start learning the best ways to connect with your potential buyers in a space they spend over 2.5 hours per day in. Social media is about like-minded communities sharing content with one another and, no matter what you sell, there’s a community out there ready to buy. All you need to do is reach them.
Have any questions about using social media? Let us know in the comments!