Everyone talks about social media and how great it is for business, but what exactly should we do with it?
Social commerce is an ancient practice. Were you expecting me to say it’s new? Well, it's not new at all. In fact, social commerce is as old as civilization itself. The tools are new, but the concept isn’t.
As outlined in my book "Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-Preneurs," social commerce is as old as the cave man. As soon as the first cave dweller produced fire, you can bet he told his neighbor: “I’ll show you how to keep warm by making a fire in exchange for some of those fruits and berries you got there.” That’s the very basis of social commerce.
Social commerce is the process of using social connections to promote and sell your products. It's a strategy that combines customer service, marketing, community building, and sales tools into one cohesive package that uses all aspects of your business.
Customer service: Social media has become a powerful business tool and an integral part of any brand's strategy. However, it's not enough to just discuss your brand on social media; you must also monitor your profiles and respond to customers' comments and questions.
Marketing: You can use social media channels to reach your target audiences and achieve success in a competitive marketplace of ideas.
Community building: Social media has the power to bring people together for a common goal or shared interest. Community building is a unique and powerful way you can use social media for social good.
Sales: You can produce social content to build trust, increase brand awareness, and boost loyalty. For instance, Instagram Shops offers a way to showcase your product catalog and reach new customers.
In this post, we’ll step through five key areas to help you create a winning social commerce strategy for your business.
The initial step is to set up your social media profiles and pages. This includes creating your business page on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other networks your consumers use.
Go ahead and reserve your business brand by registering on social media and publishing a short bio that describes your business or service. Ensure your social profiles are properly optimized for bots, so add the URL of your website in the bio or profile section.
Use a high-quality image.
Have a short but concise bio—a few sentences that clearly explain how your business serves its customers.
Use relevant hashtags.
These tips will help boost your organic rankings on search engines and give you a jump-start into SEO simply through link building. Social sites rank very quickly for your brand on search engines, and those links are valuable link backs to your site.
Want to boost your social media effort? Use GetApp to evaluate social media tools and services, such as Hubspot Marketing Hub or Sprout Social, that let you monitor all of your social channels in one place. Like I said before, customer service is imperative with social media commerce.
Focus on building your social consumer base by providing high-quality content that will engage potential customers and make them want to buy from you.
Easier said than done? Nope! Too many businesses overthink their social media marketing strategy and end up not providing any content.
Bring your consumers into the world of doing business with you. Social posts showcasing your company’s culture, industry news, curated content (sharing content from others), and polls and questions are some of the content you can provide besides just “buy my stuff” shoppable posts.
Research suggests that the top reasons consumers follow brands on social media are to learn about new products and services and to stay up to date on company news.
Take a look at SHREDZ, a company that sells protein supplements to people trying to get into shape or stay fit. SHREDZ sees tremendous success on Instagram by creating posts related to exercise routines, nutritional information, and, of course, before and after photos of customers’ weight loss. And that’s exactly what its audience is looking for, so the company is having a conversation with its consumers.
Start with a simple post announcing your launch onto social media.
Do NOT go all in on every social commerce platform; focus on creating specific content for your primary social platform, and leverage the other platforms to point to the primary post. Case in point: If you’re going to focus on video content for YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram, use your Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts to promote your video content by linking to it.
Another important step is understanding who your customers are and where they are on social media. Think about the following questions:
What's their age?
Where do they live?
What interests or hobbies do they have in common with you and your brand?
Answers to these questions will help you create content that’s tailored to your target audience, increasing chances of conversion.
Let’s consider you’re visiting a gym to become a member (possibly!). The salesperson will ask questions about your physical goals, available time for working out, level of physical activity, etc. Based on your answers, they’ll create your customer “persona.” Next, when they walk you through the facility, they’ll be keen to point out equipment specific to meet your persona and ignore the ones you’re probably not going to use.
This practice of learning your consumers—or creating personas—will tell you who your customers are, what their social shopping habits look like, where they get their information from, what common problems they have, who and where they go to for help, and how they make decisions.
It doesn't matter what your business is, as long as you know who your customers are and how to engage them, the sky's your limit!
Social media and social commerce is a team effort that requires input from many departments, including marketing, customer service, and sales, to be successful.
Therefore, ensure you're using an analytics platform to track your success on social media. The two most popular platforms are Google Analytics for websites and Hootsuite for networks.
Google Analytics is a free all-inclusive web analytics application that provides insights about your website visitors. It lets you track "real" traffic from all of your social networks. The only downside of using Google Analytics for a social commerce campaign is the lack of detailed information on posts and who’s interacting with them.
Hootsuite, on the other hand, provides more detailed analytics for a single social network but doesn’t allow you to monitor your website traffic.
If you're using Hootsuite Analytics and Google Analytics, it's best to set up some API integrations so they can work together for a full 360-degree view of your efforts. Again, check out GetApp for some all-in-one solutions.
You should definitely monitor what your competitors are doing on social media to see if they’re trying out any new tactics that may give them an edge and get you inspired.
For instance, check if your competitors have a Facebook page and how many "likes" they’ve got every few days. This will show you how many people like their page, which are their most popular posts (most liked or commented), and how many times they’ve posted recently.
Similarly, on Twitter, you can check if they’ve got any new followers or the latest tweets mentioning their name to get an idea of what people are saying about your competition.
Monitoring competition is important because it gives you a chance to stay one step ahead of your competitors by using their best practices as your inspiration.
In conclusion, successful entrepreneurs know that social media is more than just a way to connect with friends. It's an opportunity to promote their products and services, build relationships with customers, monitor competition, and get valuable insights about what consumers want and how they operate online.
To be successful with social commerce, you should understand your customer’s avatar. Knowing who you're marketing to, which channels are best suited for reaching them (e.g., a Facebook shop or Instagram shop), how much time you should spend on monitoring competition, and how to use analytics tools to track ROI on each social channel will help up your social eCommerce game.
John is the best-selling author of “Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-Preneurs” and CEO of ColderICE Media, a consulting agency helping small businesses with online sales, marketing, and content creation.Visit Author's Page