According to a study of 500 small-medium businesses across the United States, 90% are actively engaged in social media. This fact is very interesting for two reasons. The first is that social media is no longer a fad but rather an online marketing strategy that has very high adoption. The second is that because 9 out of every 10 businesses are using free social media platforms to grow their businesses, so do you. If you choose to be the 10% that fights against the tide, you will end up drowning. With that being said, let’s look at 10 social media marketing tips that every online merchant should know. These tips are aimed at the beginner or inexperienced online marketer and I can guarantee you that if you read to the end, you will have learnt enough to dramatically improve your social media marketing.
When it comes to posting to social media most marketers simply post the first things that they feel would be nice for their community.
By being more selective and having a high standard in the content you are sharing on social, you will have a better chance of standing out from all the noise and be able to build a loyal fan base that sees you as an authority in the space.
A good way to do this is to collect a lot of potential posts and then filter it out until you have the best things from your collection. Yes, this approach is time consuming but your posts will have a bigger impact and will result in much higher engagement levels.
We are social creatures and can relate much easier to visual content then text-based content. [Tweet “According to Facebook and Hubspot, image posts on Facebook receive 53% more likes”] and attract 104% more comments than other post types.
The easiest way to increase engagement on your social profiles is by adding more posts with images. Make sure you don’t fall into some common social media bad habits when using images in your posts and always look at your posts with the fan in mind.
User generated content is your best friend. Not only does it save you time in finding or creating content, but content created from your customers is golden for a number of other reasons. User generated content or UGC can have a very strong impact on social media because it is easier for your fans and potential customers to connect to content generated by people that are similar to them.
UGC is tough to get hold of but thankfully there is a great service out there called Yotpo which helps online merchants generate tons of product reviews (also a form of UGC) and makes it easy for them to use these reviews to increase traffic and sales. Yotpo is available on 18 different eCommerce platforms and is free.
Just getting started with social can be tough for some people because it is such a large world that is constantly growing. I developed the POST framework specifically for eCommerce store owners that want to maximize their efforts on social media and are a bit stuck. The framework has 4 parts to it. They are:
1. Pillars of content – Define 3-5 categories of content you want to post.
2. Outreach – Actively reach out to individuals through social and provide them with value, this builds context and a growing following.
3. Scheduling – Schedule your post using tools like Buffer or Sprout Social.
4. Timing – Analyze the engagement of your community and schedule your posts at optimal times.
I recommend reading through the entire post linked above to get a better idea of how each of these pieces fit together and how the framework can be used to supercharge your social activities.
One of the most powerful aspects of social media is that it allows the single individual to reach hundreds or even tens of thousands of individuals. As a market you want to tap into this capability by making it easy for individuals to spread the word about your products and brand.
There are a number of 3rd party services out there for every eCommerce platform that makes it easy to add share buttons, special social coupons, social reviews and a number of other social integrations that will help make your site more social friendly and result in more free viral traffic directed to your site.
Most social media tools and even within some of the social networks provide free analytics on everything from engagement levels to clicks and even breakdown by country and age.
Information is power and it is important that you have instant access to the stats which matter the most. Below is a list of what I consider the most important stats that you should be tracking.
1. Engagement levels per post with a breakdown by post type
2. Number of clicks per post
3. Total purchases by social, with breakdown by channel
4. Total visitors by social (compared to other traffic channels)
5. Performance of social traffic (time on site, pages per view)
6. New vs returning for social traffic
7. Performance of social traffic that comes from 3rd party tools like Yotpo, Mailchimp etc.
To see where you stand in comparison to the market, check out this list of 25 important stats for eCommerce sites.
There is a simple but very powerful mind trick that you can play with yourself that will help you approach social media as you should. Social media, from a business-to-consumer perspective, is all about providing value to individuals in the hope that a context between the brand and the individual is formed. Once that context is formed, that individual will support you in a number of ways from helping you spread the word to actually buying your stuff.
One powerful way to approach social media with this approach in mind is to say to yourself that you need to earn the right to advertise. By putting this requirement in place you are forced to provide constant value to your community and then once in a while you would have earned the right to push your products or service onto them in the hope that they will make a purchase. Remember, you want to earn the right to advertise.
One of my biggest influences in the online marketing space is Seth Godin who wrote a now famous book called Purple Cow. The premise of the book is that if your business isn’t remarkable it is invisible and I have to agree with this idea. One of the ways to make your business remarkable is in your marketing. This could seem like mission impossible, but by simply executing on ideas that are different to how others in your space are conducting their marketing, you will be on your way to making your marketing remarkable.
I recommend that you take some time each week and brainstorm ideas which are unique and don’t require too many resources.
Try at least once a month to run a short campaign that is out of the box. You may find that these “out of the box” ideas bring you your largest return on investment.
Below is a list of some out of the box ideas that any eCommerce site can implement today. Hurry up and adopt these ideas before they go mainstream.
1. Pick a date in the year and name it after which ever niche you are in, so for example if you sell surfing equipment, March 5th is now considered Surfers day. On March 5th each year you run massive discounts and other special competitions. Team up with other similar businesses and run one massive campaign on the specific date.
2. Create an online treasure hunt for all your customers.
3. Interview top experts in your niche over skype and publish a serious of interviews on your website/blog.
4. Host meetups where customers can come and meet the people behind your business.
Being active on social media is not enough, you need to adopt the social mindset when it comes to your business. We are social creatures and thanks to the social media revolution, we have all become very use to seeing social signals all over the Internet. The more you embed social within your website and business as a whole, the faster your online following will grow, the better your returns will be on your social marketing activities and more likely your brand is to spread across the Internet.
Below is a list of some of the ways you can ingrain social within your website and business:
1. Place social buttons on all your pages and in your email signature, and share buttons on your product pages.
2. Encourage visitors to check you out on social for discounts, promotions and other information.
3. Leave no engagement behind (AKA respond to every tweet, comment, post and mention).
4. Run special promotions for your social communities (see #10 below).
5. Embed widgets on your site that show your most recent activity on your social profiles.
Running social marketing campaigns could fit into a number of the items I mentioned above, like thinking out of the box for example, but I feel that it deserves special mention.
There are a number of resource online to help you run a social marketing campaign but I think that there are 3 main things that you have to take into consideration.
1. Speak the language of your target audience – If you aren’t using basic, everyday language in your marketing campaigns your audience won’t connect with your messaging and you will lose them.
2. It needs to be special – Most online brands today are trying to run campaigns through social and this has resulted in an overabundance of online competitions and promotions which usually don’t excite. If you are going to run special social campaigns then it really needs to be special. The good news is that if it is remarkable, the viral element of social media will make it spread like wildfire.
3. Money is no longer a strong influencer – This may sound strange to most but when it comes to online competitions, having a prize which is simply financial is conceived as boring. Put yourself in your community’s shoes and think of something that they would die for and use that as your prize. Sometimes simply being recognized and put as the center of attention is enough to make the campaign interesting.
There are a number of themes which are common in the 10 tips I have mentioned above. Some of these themes are 1) be remarkable, 2) put yourself in your target audiences shoes and 3) the environment is highly competitive and fast moving. If you can remember these themes and use them to help you grow your business through social, you will be in a very good place.