Social strategies - the future of eCommerce

Social Strategies: Interview with Ezra Firestone

eCommerce marketing expert Ezra Firestone shares his strategies for succeeding in a social-dominated world.

Ezra Firestone has over ten years of experience in online commerce.

Not only has he launched several seven- and eight-figure businesses, he is also the founder of Smart Marketer, one of the top online training programs for store owners.

Ezra advises marketers and business owners around the world through his renowned digital training programs, informed by his real-life experience owning and operating successful eCommerce companies.

This is part 2 in our interview series with Ezra. In part 1, which you can read here, Ezra shared his views on where the world of eCommerce is headed as social channels take over.

In this post, learn:

  • How social strategies should change as brands grow
  • How to balance resources across many platforms
  • Why paid ads matter so much on social
  • What’s next for Instagram, and why Pinterest is becoming so significant

Growing through social

Q: You advise many successful, high-growth eCommerce brands. What changes should brands make in their social marketing strategy after hitting $1 million mark?

Ezra: Once you are making over $1 million a year and you have an average profit margin between 15%-30%, that means that you have $150,000-$300,000 left in your pocket at the end of the year to reinvest in your business.

The number one thing that people forget when investing is that at least 50% of their profit should go back into their business in the form of advertising or content. 

You get out what you put in, and when people try to pull out too much from their business, they go bankrupt or stop their ability to grow.

If you are a $1 million-plus brand, you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not putting at least 50% of your profit back into the business in one of two ways:

  1. Advertising to generate new leads, subscribers, and fans
  2. Investing in high-quality, engaging content that you can syndicate across social platforms

Different users prefer to consume content in different formats, so I recommend investing in at least one piece of content per week that then optimizes into video, image, and text, syndicated across all your social channels and then amplifying it with advertising.

Strike a balance between word-of-mouth and paid ads

Q: Today, there are so many social channels to manage. Should brands pick one social channel and focus on it? Or do a little bit on each?

Ezra: Pick one channel to get really good at.

When I look at successful brands, they all have one channel of visibility that is responsible for 70% of their revenue. It’s usually either organic traffic, Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.

However, you can’t rely solely on organic traffic from a social channel, you must have an ad-driven model.

Q: Interesting, so why are paid ads so important?

Ezra: Organic traffic isn’t reliable and shouldn’t be your sole source of traffic.

I was in eCommerce when search engine optimization was all you did. I had several drop shipping stores, and we relied on Google and SEO to get traffic.

Then, literally overnight, half the people I knew went out of business because Google changed their algorithm.

I realized then that if you really want to have a business, you have to go to the traffic store and buy traffic.

If you are relying on free traffic – whether from Google, social, or Amazon, they could just change their rules and then you’re done.

The importance of a brand story

Q: Brand building is essential to businesses today. What’s the best way to establish a strong brand and messaging?

Ezra: It all comes down to storytelling.

At the end of the day, every brand is communicating about a collective experience that their prospects are having and how you can improve that experience.

If you don’t have a good story, if you aren’t resonating with people when they read your copy, engage with your videos, or see your brand — then it doesn’t matter.

What brands really have a problem with is hitting that emotional engagement and finding that story that’s actually going to resonate. You’ve really got to figure out what you’re doing beyond trying to sell people stuff.

If you don’t have a bigger conversation besides, “Buy what I’m selling,” you’ve got nothing. You just have some eCommerce business, rather than a community engaged in a larger conversation or collective experience.

What’s Next for Pinterest and Instagram

Q: How are Buyable Pins and Shoppable Instagram changing the social shopping experience?

Ezra: Now, people are able to buy straight from social — and even more so in the future, you’ll be able to have a seamless buying experience. 

Until now social has been mostly for acquisition and awareness, but it’s changing.

One-click purchasing is only going to get better and more prevalent in 2017.

By 2018, it’s going to be a huge factor.

Q: What works for marketing on Instagram?

Ezra: People go to Instagram for inspiration.

On Facebook, for example, about 78% of your relationships are reciprocal and then there is 10-20% of people that you might be following and not be friends with.  

On Instagram, you are only friends with about one in 50 people that you follow. You curate a feed based on what you are interested in, what you are inspired by — but not necessarily based on reciprocal relationship.

People on Instagram get upset when you are very direct in sales. Your content has to be more aspirational, more story-based, more conversational in order for it to do really well.

Also, both Instagram and Pinterest are 90%-plus mobile environments, so content must be optimized for mobile.

Q: Interesting that you bring up Pinterest, more and more people are talking about its growing value. Where do you think Pinterest is headed?

Ezra: Pinterest is the fastest-growing social network by percentage of users on a yearly basis. And its fastest-growing demographic is men right now, even though 80% of its users are women.

Something like 65% of Pinterest users have a household income of  $75,000 and up. The people on Pinterest are folks who are spending money online, so it is very much poised to become the next big online comparison shopping engine.

I think it is the next frontier for eCommerce brands

Q: Do you have any tips for marketing on Pinterest?

Ezra: Pinterest  is a future engine.

On Facebook, we engage with people based on past behavioral data. But on Pinterest, people look for things they are planning for in the future.

Pinterest released a statistic indicating that 88% of people who have saved a Pin have done so in search of a purchase. A lot of people are going to Pinterest to look for things they want, to save them and then come back later.

So, the way that you engage on Pinterest is a little different. It’s more of a long-form conversation

Pinterest also has a combination between contextual and query-based traffic and data. People type queries on Pinterest, but Pinterest also has contextual data on them based on what they are interested in.

Pinterest is vital to social strategy

Top Takeaways:

Pick one social platform and master it before moving on to any others. Start a conversation with your content and adapt it to suit each channel’s character. Make sure to amplify your content with ads.

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Michelle Bitran
Michelle Bitran, Content Marketing Writer at Yotpo
Michelle is a Canadian living in Tel Aviv. She loves knitting and the beach, but not knitting at the beach.
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