Retail is changing to meet customers where they are – in stores, online, and on their mobile devices. In addition, social media is shaping purchasing decisions through user-generated content, ratings and reviews, advertising driven by consumer behavior data, and native purchasing now available on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. According to IBM, more than 75% of consumers are willing to make purchases directly from a social media platform. That statistic alone is reason enough to have a social commerce strategy for your brand.
What is social commerce?
At the most basic level, social commerce is a type of electronic commerce that involves social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist online buying and selling of products and services. Note that social commerce lives beyond social media channels. Instead, it encompasses the entire customer journey.
In-feed content is the heart of social commerce driving consumers to view brands’ latest products and services and to engage with brands for the purpose of purchasing. The lines between native and paid social are blurring as consumers have begun to interpret both experiences as native in their social feeds.
Both marketing approaches require scroll-stopping content that is both relevant and curated for specific consumers’ feeds. Brands need to create a comprehensive marketing plan that authentically reaches their target audience at the right time and on the right channel.
Social media is woven throughout the entire customer journey prompting brands to create various digital experiences that borrow social elements to create key touchpoints. Because social has shown to have an overall impact on purchasing decisions, companies are integrating social content into their websites and in-store experiences to better leverage the power of social across all channels.
Nielsen found that 92% of consumers trust organic user-generated content more than traditional media. By featuring user-generated content in product detail pages and email journeys, promotions across channels, and leveraging ratings and reviews in conjunction with brand marketing, companies can optimize their digital experience with social content to enable consumers to make purchases anywhere on the web. This is becoming progressively important knowing that consumers are being introduced to brands on social media more than traditional media.
Why embrace social commerce?
Social media is a powerful tool that businesses can use to their advantage. It is important for brands to embrace social commerce because ecommerce and online purchase behavior are only going to continue to increase. A report from GWI (Global Web Index) states that Internet users spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes on social and messaging platforms each day. And with Statista projecting the number of digital buyers to exceed 300 million in the U.S. alone, brands can’t afford to ignore the potential that exists not only in ecommerce but also in social commerce. The key is to create and execute a social media network strategy as part of your larger marketing plan with an eye on both short-term and long-term goals.
INCREASE BRAND AWARENESS
One of the main reasons for any business to have an active presence on social platforms is brand awareness. Social media is one of the best places to promote your brand in front of the right target audience especially given the increase in marketing opportunities on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and more.
Most major social media sites offer an array of native analytics, but you can always combine them with third-party tools for a more objective approach to your brand’s social media metrics. Tracking things like follower count, social media post reach, mentions, shares, and re-posts can help you measure your brand awareness on the social platforms you utilize.
DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR BRAND WEBSITE
Even though on-platform commerce opportunities continue to grow, driving visitors from your social media channels to your brand website or blog is still an important step towards turning prospective customers into paying customers. The easiest and most convenient way to measure traffic to your website is by using Google Analytics. This free and yet powerful tool provides insights about everything your brand needs to know about the traffic to your website.
Brands can now grow their revenue through social media via two different routes. The traditional way is to boost sales is by implementing an effective social media advertising strategy through options like Facebook Ads. The second avenue is through on-platform commerce opportunities – the social commerce on which we’ve been focusing.
According to Pinterest, 83% of weekly users have made a purchase based on pins from brands they follow. Given the drastic fall in organic reach that brands have seen on Facebook and Instagram, a broad social commerce strategy will offer the best returns for brands in every industry. And, truly, the best place to leverage your social content is on site. Many brands feature look books, which pull from their social feeds to bring their products to life.
BOOST BRAND ENGAGEMENT
Brand engagement follows closely behind brand awareness as a social goal. Social media interactions with your target audience are shown to improve brand perception, increase brand loyalty, and increase word of mouth recommendations as well. It is also worth noting that the algorithms used by Facebook, Instagram, etc. are set to prioritize posts with higher engagement on their respective audiences’ feeds.
Engaging content gets shared more both by the users on a given social media platform and by the platform itself. It increases the chances of other users joining in on the fun and decreases the chances of potential negative feedback and user dissatisfaction. Tracking how many users are mentioning your brand, liking, commenting, and sharing your posts will help you understand which content is resonating best with your target audience.
BUILD A COMMUNITY
Building close online communities like forums and chats can help your business stand out. The key is to differentiate between regular followers and your dedicated community of loyal brand customers. The two groups have different goals and concerns.
Community building is a complex process and requires active participation on the part of your brand. Your metrics should not only track how actively engaged are your users but also your own staff. A cohesive brand voice should regularly be present in online forums and chat streams. Follower comments and questions should be acknowledged and answered. User-generated content should be shown appreciation.
For more on building community see our articles:
PROVIDE Excellent SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE
Providing amazing customer service on your social media platforms can help with several things. It can help realize increased revenue and optimize customer retention. Excellent social customer service can also increase your visitor and customer satisfaction levels. Ensure that your brand is providing to your social traffic the same high-quality customer service that you show your clients online and in-person.
Increase Social Media Sales
So, your brand has an active presence on relevant social media platforms and you are diving into social commerce with enthusiasm. What’s next? What else can you do to increase your social media sales?
CREATE BRAND LOBBYISTS FROM YOUR PACK OF LOYAL CUSTOMERS
This strategy is about using your actual customers as brand advocates. To locate the most prominent advocates of your brand, collect relevant keywords and other brand-related searches on your social media channels. Offer incentives for those customers to promote your products and services. Offer giveaways, coupons, or discounts. Upgrade your most loyal customers into a status of official brand lobbyists.
UTILIZE USER-MADE CONTENT
Consumers tend to read reviews from a variety of sources to help them determine if a brand is trustworthy. The positive experiences of others ease the anxiety consumes may feel when they think about buying a product or using a service from a brand with which they are unfamiliar. Consumers believe their peers offer honest views of their experiences with a brand and its products or services. Reviews from people they perceive as “like them” offer a level of social proof that no marketing campaign can provide.
So, share user-generated opinions across all of your social media channels. Encourage your customers to post not only their opinions of your brand but also photos of themselves engaging with your products or experiencing one of your services. 75% of consumers stated they find UGC more authentic and user generated photos are 5x more likely to convert versus non-user generated photos. These are only the tip of the proverbial statistical iceberg that show this strategy is a foolproof way of adding credibility and social proof to your brand as potential customers start looking around your social media channels.
Social media is no longer just a place for building brand awareness or loyalty, it is another potential storefront. That being said, engaging in social commerce takes a greater effort than just maintaining a presence on a social media platform. For businesses that take the right approach for their brand, social commerce has the potential to open whole new avenues of revenue and advertising.
The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing would love to learn more about your brand and business goals. We have extensive experience helping organizations create and maintain social commerce opportunities and ecommerce websites that are an expression of their brand and direct channel to their customers. From creative and front-end development to functionality, responsiveness, and more, SDM can help you provide an amazing user experience that will create a buzz about your brand and keep customers coming back time after time. Contact us today to learn more!