It's difficult to overstate the value of social media marketing in today's digital landscape. As an ecommerce brand you can use social media to achieve many of your marketing goals. Social media can increase brand recognition and loyalty, improve your organic presence in search engine rankings, and create an engaged customer-base. Read on to discover the ways you can best leverage social media as part of your ecommerce marketing strategy.
Keep customers happy
One of the best ways to leverage social media for your brand is to use it to keep your customers happy. Happy customers, after all, are likely to become brand loyalists and lifetime devotees.
Providing top-notch customer service is one of the best ways to ensure customer loyalty. Customers feel confident buying online when they know any concerns or issues they have will be remedied quickly by the brand. While many customer service inquires are handled by phone or email, many can also be quickly dispatched on social media. Twitter in particular is a platform that's well-suited to handling customer service issues.
Handling customer service via your social media accounts has the added benefit of showing users who haven't yet experienced an issue that your brand stands behind its products and goes the extra mile to serve its customers.
Smart ecommerce brands don't shy away from criticism or legitimate customer complaints. Instead, they engage with this type of feedback by giving honest, thoughtful responses.
Here's a great example from the leading ecommerce brand, Everlane, who recently received some complaints about discrepancies in pricing between the same items for men and women (a men's sweater priced lower than the same sweater for women, for example.) They took that feedback and wrote a considered response, then shared it more widely with their entire social following on Facebook.
Transparency is the philosophy that Everlane is built on, but even for an ecommerce brand that isn't founded on that principle, openness and candor on social media goes a long way toward endearing your brand with customers.
Let us get to know you
Your social media channels are the best places online to showcase the personality of your brand. Social media is a way to speak directly to users and customers and to let them get to know you a bit better. Ultimately, if users feel they know you, they're more likely to trust you which means you'll be able to turn them into customers and brand loyalists.
The visual nature of many social media channels makes it easy for brands to tell stories about themselves and their products. For most ecommerce brands marketing isn't just about showcasing your products and highlighting their benefits, it's about creating a lifestyle or ethos that defines the products you sell. You can use social media to share that lifestyle with your users and inspire them to see themselves, or a version of themselves they aspire to be, reflected in your brand.
The San Francisco based brand Cuyana uses their Pinterest account to create boards that tell stories around each collection they launch:
These boards help tell a story about why each collection was created and allow users to imagine themselves owning these products, and living this lifestyle.
Another way to let people get to know your ecomm brand is to introduce them to the people who make your brand amazing. People want to shop from a brand they trust and pulling back the curtain to reveal the people toiling behind the scenes is a great way to build that trust. Showcasing your company's heroes will make your brand feel less like a faceless entity and more like a close friend.
NYC-based Stone Fox Bride is a bridal purveyor for non-traditional brides. Their outspoken founder runs the brand's popular Instagram account (123k followers and counting) and often features images of herself, her family, and her life, accompanied by candid, humorous captions.
Engage your users
Now that you've shown your users who you are through your brand storytelling initiatives it's time to engage with them on a more meaningful level. When it comes to engagement, it's all about content.
User generated content
A great way to engage with users and customers is to use your platform to promote and share content they've created. Your users are likely already out there working on their own social media presence - snapping a selfie in a new pair of sunglasses, or showing off their #shinyponies. You can make users feel they are appreciated by your brand by featuring the content they create. Check out this example from J.Crew:
Value added content
Of course, it isn't enough just to share your users' content, you also need to create and share your own high quality, useful or entertaining content as well.
Here's a unique example from Powell's, which started as a brick and mortar bookstore in Portland but today is also one of the largest online book retailers. They're featuring original essays by writers whose books they sell. The post below is an excerpt from the full essay that can be read on Powells.com - it's an enticing piece of content for the literary-minded audience of a brand like Powell's.
Give your users a reason to come to your site other than to shop and you may find they end up staying to shop anyway.
One of the key benefits of social media is the ability to be quick and flexible with the content you're pushing out. Take advantage of that ability by creating content that is timely in nature - whether it's to do with the weather, a big event, or even a cultural moment. It means monitoring trending topics and getting creative with your posts, but by sharing timely content you'll be engaging with your users in a way that feels significant, authentic, and of the moment. If you're lucky you can also jump on a trending hashtag to boost your visibility and get seen by more users.
Invest in paid media
When it comes to social media, there is no shortage of advertising opportunities. Your future customers are on social media and it's worthwhile to invest in social media ads as part of your overall social strategy.
Social media advertising gives your ecommerce brand the opportunity to target users and user groups who are likely to be interested in your products. Facebook, in particular, offers the ability to target users based on some pretty specific demographic information. You can, for example, target users based on life events. If you're a home goods store, you might target people who have recently moved. If you sell baby products you could target couples who recently welcomed a baby into their home.
You also have the opportunity to show ads to users who have recently been on your site but haven't completed a purchase (also known as retargeting) as in the below Instagram ad, served shortly after browsing the Norwegian Air website.
Social media influencers are a great way to get your brand in front of a new audience. Think of influencers as tastemakers - people follow them because they're trendy, or fashionable, or cool, and they usually have sizable social media followings. As a result, an influencer's followers are perfectly primed to want to buy anything he or she is seen wearing or using. Partnering with the right social media influencers in your space can help up your brand awareness game by a lot.
Don't forget when running paid social campaigns to capitalize on functionalities for specific platforms and tailor your CTAs to suit each platform. Allow users to shop easily with the click of a button regardless of the platform. Or, if you're making a content play, use swipe functionalities to let them see more or access the full article.
It doesn't seem like a stretch to say that ecommerce and social media are a match made in heaven. Most ecommerce brands have strong aesthetics and personalities, and these translate well to the creation of an engaged social following. Social media can be used to better serve your customers' needs, to create brand loyalty, and to share your brand's story. All that's left now is to get started.