When it comes to selling eCommerce products via social media, it should be a matter of when, not if.
If you aren’t already boasting social sales, perhaps it’s time to rethink your current strategy.
Sure, there’s a lot of hype associated with the selling power of social media: however, it’s not 2010 anymore. It’s become increasingly clear that if you’re not tapping into avenues such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, for starters, you’re likely leaving money on the table.
Don’t believe the hype? Fair enough, but the numbers don’t lie as social media remains a potential goldmine for budding eCommerce brands. For starters:
- Brands with smart social strategies are six times more likely to seal a deal: if you want customers to open their wallets, it’s crucial that they open up to you in their social feeds
- The classic statistic that 93% of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchase decision can’t be overstated: the more positive interactions you have with potential customers, the better
- Businesses that focus on social networks build a stronger customer culture: in other words, it’s possible for customers to evangelize you versus constantly trying to track them down
The question remains: how do you actually make those sales happen?
The answer is simple: integrate social media into your website.
Treating social media as an island is arguably one of the costliest mistakes that modern eCommerce brands make in regard to their marketing strategy and bottom line. Your social strategy should complement your on-site sales rather than stand alone. In short, you need effective on-site integration of various social media platforms to seal the deal with social customers.
Thankfully, with the wealth of resources and plug-ins out there such integration may be easier than you think, regardless of your niche or industry.
There is no one-size-fits all approach to integrating social media into your website: however, a combination of the following strategies are surefire ways for any eCommerce brand to really start leveraging the power of the social sphere rather than sleeping on it.
Homepage social feeds, especially Instagram feeds, represent an incredibly powerful means of bringing your product to life on-site. Such feeds can help your site feel more human and less like a sales pitch.
For example, Beardbrand boasts its Instagram feed on their homepage to display models showcasing their high-end male grooming products.
If you decide to integrate a social feed into your website, keep in mind that you need to ensure that your feed only contains high-quality images worthy of your homepage versus unrelated selfies or advertisements. You may consider dedicating a separate account for your on-site feed: otherwise, just curate your images carefully.
Perhaps even more powerful than your own photo feed are the photos of customers using your products. After all, User Generated Content represents an autopilot form of marketing that ultimately builds a sense of loyalty and authenticity among your followers.
Ask yourself: rather than plaster your homepage with in-your-face ads and deals, why not let your existing customers do the legwork for you?
You can also turn UGC into a potential sale by highlighting products from the images your followers share. For example, check how CLUSE integrates a “lookbook” to leverage UGC for their luxury watches:
Meanwhile, consider the other added bonus of homepage feeds:
- Feeds are a form of social proof, arguably the most important psychological trigger when it comes to drawing in new customers: this is especially true in the case of UGC where potential buyers can literally see your products in action beyond an advertisement
- Photo feeds represent yet another means of leveraging visual content, which is proven to increase conversions and seal the deal with fickle customers
- You’re able to double-dip your social media marketing efforts with your on-site marketing: your social content is able to reach visitors that aren’t following you and encourage new followers simultaneously
In short, social feeds present a win-win situation when it comes to getting the most out of your content marketing strategy.
Perhaps representing the low-hanging fruit of integrating social media into your website, social buttons are an absolute must do for any modern brand.
This is especially true in an era where customers are spending a bulk of their time on social media versus on-site, it’s incredibly important that you make following your business via social a one-click process versus forcing followers to dig for you.
You can also use social media buttons on your website to increase sales: such buttons can promote your brand’s social media channels as a way for visitors to hear about contests or promotions you may be running.
There is no “proper” way to integrate social media buttons or badges into your website, although many eCommerce brands keep them either at the top or bottom of their homepages, respectively. Regardless of where you place your buttons, you should keep the following in mind before rolling them out:
- Make sure that your buttons mesh with your site’s layout and color scheme
- There’s no need to make your buttons particularly “loud” in terms of size or placement: when it doubt, take a simple and subtle approach (see the above example from Merkal).
- Only highlight the social platforms that you’re active on: if you’re only active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for example, don’t bother linking to your dead Pinterest page
Many of today’s ecommerce brands use simple, minimalist styles of social buttons. Check out the following examples from Dinair.
Rather than distract your visitors, social buttons are perhaps the easiest way to integrate social media into your website and attract new followers.
Given that modern customers are hungry to evangelize the brands they support, there’s perhaps no easier way to encourage social sharing and generation of UGC than by creating a hashtag.
Hashtags represent much more than trending topics and flavors of the week, granted you understand how to integrate them into your website and future marketing efforts. Not unlike social buttons, hashtags can be implemented throughout your brand’s visual content to provide customers with a hub of discussion and sharing for your brand and its products.
But first thing’s first: how do you go about choosing a hashtag?
Don’t overthink it. If you’re already boasting a unique brand name (as in the case of Shoeby, whose hashtag #shoeby is detailed below), chances are there’s little to no competition or existing traction for your hashtag. Beyond coming up with something unique, keep the following in mind as well:
- Keep your hashtag short and sweet (the ideal hashtag length is said to be under 11 characters)
- Be prepared to curate your hashtag in order to avoid spam or potentially irrelevant images
- Pick something that you can use for the long-haul: the more you use your hashtag throughout your marketing, the more likely it is to catch on like wildfire (think: using it throughout your visual content, blog posts, Twitter feed, and so on)
Like just about anything else regarding social media, you have plenty of freedom as far as what you can do to leverage your hashtag. In regard to user generated content, hashtags are the primary means of customers tagging your products to share with the world.
Simply put, a hashtag is more than just a vanity slogan: it’s an advertising tool that helps you keep track of your customers in real time.
Hashtags can also be used as incentives for customers to take action or engage with your brand. Whether offering up a discount or promotion in exchange for posts featuring your hashtag phrase, seemingly small interactions can build into a big traffic over time.
You can promote your hashtag on your website by inviting visitors to use it via social media and feature their images on your homepage. For example, Shoeby encourages its customers to share their hashtag by using “#shoeby” as a contest entry: images from Instagram then pop up on their homepage feed. From discounts at checkouts to product giveaways, you can use existing hashtags for one-time campaigns as well.
Don’t underestimate the potential of a hashtag: they’re a potentially powerful tool when leveraged creatively.
Social media represents the modern word of mouth: buyers want to brag about their purchases and the products they deem worthy of their hard-earned cash. Therefore, you need to do everything in your ability to get into the social feeds of your audience.
To feed into your customers’ needs to share, ensure that you have social sharing enabled on your product pages. For example, check out how ModCloth incorporates social sharing on each and every one of their pieces of clothing:
Be warned: social buttons on your product pages should not interrupt the buying process, but rather provide a way for customers to receive one-click feedback on their next purchase. Keep the following principles in mind as a means of optimizing your products for shares:
- Do not use the same social buttons on your homepage and product pages: your product buttons should be smaller and stylized differently
- Only offer sharing to the social networks where it makes sense: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are probably your best bets versus somewhere such as LinkedIn
- Make sure that your plugin captures your product’s image and description appropriately as it’s shared
The last bullet point is crucial, yet often overlooked: the post will likely get lost in the shuffle without some form of imagery to back it up.
With so much emphasis on driving social traffic to our product pages, don’t forget about the importance of your customers’ experience once they’ve landed. Give them a chance to share their experience in the buying process: you may be surprised at how many of them are more than happy to sing your praises.
Social Sign Ins
Many eCommerce brands thrive off of visitors who sign into their sites from platforms such as Facebook. The benefit of social sign-ins are two-fold: visitors can browse your site without the annoyance of creating a n
ew account and they can comment on your blog with ease.
One of the key reasons to integrate social media into your website is to encourage commenting: a steady stream of comments are a positive signal for your site and products. How so?
- You get real-time feedback regarding your business from actual readers and customers
- Comments ultimately uncover what is buzzworthy on-site: if you notice that particular product or blog post is driving discussion, consider putting it at the forefront of your future marketing
- Consistent comments signal that your site is alive and well, establishing your site as a bigger player in your space
Although you can simply ask and encourage feedback from your visitors, you can also harness the power of social media in the comments section to make a personalized and streamlined user experience.
For example, social sign-ins through Facebook have become an incredibly popular means of encouraging on-site interactions without users having to create a separate account: likewise, their comments have the potential to pop up the news feeds of friends.
In fact, in the case of many eCommerce brands, Facebook shoppers are significantly more likely to make a purchase, which signals that logging in through the social network represents a lower barrier to entry for shoppers.
Check out the following example from Fab, which provides the option for visitors to create a unique login or sign in through Facebook:
Beyond Facebook, enabling universal platforms such as Disqus on your blog is a solid starting point for encouraging more comments and discussion on-site. Although such comments may not be traditionally treated as social media, they do contribute to the social buzz surrounding your content. The more comments you build, the better. Meanwhile, having a login system in place can help keep spam out of your comment section.
Bringing It All Together
From killer visual content to real-time UGC from Photoslurp, there are tons of ways you can mesh your social marketing with your on-site efforts. Although you may not be able to roll out all of your plugins and updates immediately, figure out where your site may currently be lacking (whether it be social mentions or comments, for example) and start there.
Social media and your eCommerce site go hand in hand. Rather than treating your marketing off-site as a completely separate entity, take advantage the various ways you can integrate social media into your website.
So, how have you managed to use social media on-site to make sales? Hashtags? Social feeds? We’d love to hear what’s working for you: comment below and let us know.