October 17, 2016 | Shares:

How to Build an Effective Social Media Strategy
4 min.

In the world of eCommerce, having great ideas just isn’t enough.

If your company can’t innovate, isn’t data driven, or doesn’t understand its customer base, you could be left in the digital marketing dust.

In today’s fast-paced world, social media marketing can have a dramatic impact on your eCommerce business. The problem is that many companies ignore it altogether or don’t implement it properly, and it becomes a hindrance instead of the asset it should be.

Facebook alone has close to 1.6 billion active users. Think about that for a minute. Almost a quarter of the entire world’s population is active on Facebook. Add in Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, and you’re talking well over 25% of the people on Earth using  social media platforms.

According to a study by Invesp, 4 out of 10 social media users make a purchase after seeing a post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. And selling on Instagram is a must for eCommerce with its high social media engagement rate — 30% of Instagram users have bought something they first spotted on Instagram.

Here are three steps to leverage social media as a marketing tool.

Understand What Social Media Marketing is Good For

First off, we need to be realistic and honest about what social media marketing is. Social media is not a magic conversion machine, it’s an inbound marketing tool.

Social media marketing can certainly contribute if deployed properly, but it is not a standalone solution for the vast majority of businesses.

What it can do is improve brand recognition and get people talking about your products through word of mouth marketing. It’s a touchpoint along the customer journey that can really kick-start a relationship with your business.

For this reason, it’s important to note that traditional marketing doesn’t fly on social media. The answer lies in leveraging your posts to meet your audience’s wants and needs.

You need to engage your audience in conversations that will put you top-of-mind when they are ready to buy.

On social, traditional brand-sponsored content is easily ignored. Instead, social ads with authentic user-generated content such as customer reviews or customer photos blends in with the surrounding social content, which increases visibility.

Reviews increase social commerce by providing immediately visible social proof to consumers and allowing you to establish a relatable brand image that brings more shoppers to your site.

A Facebook case study shows that including relatable customer content in Facebook ads, like the Beardbrand example below, increases click-through rates by 300%!

Facebook ads should be a part of any effective social media strategy

Set a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

Before diving head-first into your marketing efforts, develop an omni-channel marketing strategy. Decide where you’re going to post, how often, and on what platforms.

Basically, do your research.

You need to determine which platforms are the best place to market your products, what are the best times to reach your potential customers, and what it is that they want to see and read.

Determining which platforms are most successful for your business can sometimes be a challenge. Often, it depends on the types of products or services you are offering.

One solid approach to gauge this is to take a look at your competitors and see what platforms they are using most frequently. Market research can be a vital tool in establishing the most critical platforms for your social media success.

Not only does this allow you to determine where your market looks for information, it can also help you understand the busiest times of the day or days of the week to post.

For instance, if you sell women’s apparel, posting frequently on Pinterest could be incredibly useful for your business, especially since 85% of Pinterest users are female.

It might take some trial and error to maximize your Pinterest marketing strategy, but with enough data you should be able to make an informed decision that will help move the needle.

A perfect example of this comes from the company Adore Me, a lingerie and women’s apparel shop that increased Pinterest revenue by more than 4,000% by effectively using Promoted Pins.

Successful social media marketing on Pinterest

Through testing, Adore Me was able to determine that Promoted Pins were a big driver of sales on Pinterest, and also determined that holiday shopping was a huge opportunity for them.

They began incorporating seasonal campaigns as much as two months prior to holidays to boost sales. All of this led to a 37x increase in Pinterest eCommerce sales, a 60x increase in email signups, and a 26x traffic increase.

There’s more to it than simply knowing what drives traffic however. You need to tailor your content to be relatable to your customers.

Adore Me could have done all the research they wanted, but if their photos made their brand look low quality or if they weren’t tailored to their specific clientele, their campaigns would have fallen flat.

Knowing your customer is just as crucial as knowing where and when to post.

To build a truly effective social media strategy, you need to investigate a few key questions about your audience:

  • What do they like?
  • Why do they use social?
  • When do they use social?
  • What websites do they frequent?
  • What are they afraid of when buying?
  • Who else do they shop for?
  • What topics are they interested in?
  • How quickly do they make purchases?

Once you understand your customers, you can understand where the best opportunities are. You don’t need to post on every social platform, you just need to post on the right platforms.

The last important idea to consider in your strategy is that you don’t need to be selling a product in every single post. Consumers make a large amount of their purchases based on emotion.

That emotional response doesn’t come from traditional interruption marketing. Offering them useful content or relatable stories can do more to move them through the consumer decision-making process than simply offering a product.

Offering them useful content or relatable stories can do more to move them through the buyer journey than simply offering a product.

For instance, Apartment Therapy sells all sorts of home items for a wide range of consumers. But rather than trying to sell a product with every single post, they offer up a huge amount of content through their website, blog, and even on their Pinterest page.

Create content your customers need and want

Everything from How Much Fabric is Needed to Reupholster a Chair to Decorating Trends are available at their customers’ fingertips.

Here are a few other excellent content suggestions to get the ball rolling:

  • Outfit combinations posts asking your followers which ones they like best or what to pair together
  • A Q&A session on Twitter to ask for customer feedback or product requests
  • UGC campaign where users submit photos and the for the chance to win a gift card or a shopping spree
  • Tutorials or guides on how to accessorize products or use products in various ways

The options are endless. The point is, get people invested in your brand and in your entire experience before you pitch them nothing but a hard sell.

Tracking Data is Essential to Effective Social Media Strategy

Ok, so you’ve got your strategy figured out. But what good is a strategy if you can’t track it and see what’s successful?

You can see basic information such as your reach, impressions and engagement for every post on Facebook or Instagram, every tweet on Twitter, and every pin on Pinterest.

This data is incredibly helpful in determining which posts are doing well so you can fine tune your content. For instance, if you post frequently but see very little customer engagement, it may be time to change your customer engagement strategies.

Conversely, if something you pin on Pinterest gets saved by a wide audience in a short period of time, you can hone in on what made it successful and better align future content to that model.

The slightly more difficult tracking layer comes into play when you are guiding people to your website or somewhere else off of social media to make a purchase or view content.

If you aren’t tracking these links, you’ll have no way of knowing when someone enters your funnel from social media, and no way to track the success (or failure) of your campaigns.

There are many tools out there like Google Analytics, Buffer, Hootsuite and more that can help you track campaign parameters.

Organizing your social activity with a dedicated tool can help you keep track of each of your social campaigns separately and determine what is most effective.

Conclusion

Having an effective social media strategy in place is an important piece to the marketing puzzle.

But more than just setting a strategy, following through with it, testing, and adapting is crucial to its success.

David Stone
David Stone, Senior Content Marketing Manager at ROI Revolution
David is the Senior Content Marketing Manager for ROI Revolution, an industry-leading paid search management agency in Raleigh, NC.
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