Social Commerce: How to Use Social Media to Increase Online Sales

Not sure if social media is really an effective way to reach potential customers? There are more than 7.3 billion people on Earth; 1.71 billion (and growing) of them are on Facebook alone, so social media is clearly popular. Consumer behavior studies show that 90 percent of buyers get help in making decisions from social media, and 75 percent report deciding to purchase a product from seeing it there.

So, how can social media increase online sales?

1. Use Analytics to Guide Your Social Media Marketing

The platform options can be overwhelming. By observing your customers’ responses and by using available analytics tools, you can precisely target your content and advertising. You can see, in real-time, what your followers care about most, and you can quickly identify and respond to questions and concerns. Evaluating the demographics and behaviors of visitors to your online store will also help you determine the best platforms to increase online sales. You don’t necessarily need to establish a presence on every social media platform. For example, Snapchat is most popular with teens and millenials; if you are marketing a passive exercise program for over-70s, your return-on-investment there would likely be low, but it would be an excellent choice for selling the newest hot band’s T-shirts.

In general, Facebook provides strong traffic patterns across generations. It also allows you to target your advertising very tightly and includes built-in tools for creating special events and promoting them. Twitter is an excellent platform for customer service, with its real-time communication; you can also narrow the audience for your ads and use an integrated “buy” button for a strong call to action.

Are you offering a highly visual product? Pinterest and Instagram may be top choices, in that case. Pinterest provides remarkably strong referral opportunities and directed promotions, while Instagram is the app of choice for millenials.

2. Build Your Social Commerce With Quality Content

For social media marketing to be its most effective, it needs be more than sales pitches and product promotion. You need to create or curate high-quality content on relevant, interesting topics. Many experts recommend that no more than 25 percent of social media content be directly “salesy.” Providing useful information creates the impression that helping your customers is your primary concern, rather than simply making money, which encourages them to trust you in the future.

You don’t have to start from scratch, either. Pay attention to which posts on your news feed are being shared most often. Take the information in those threads and repurpose it. For example, if a video is headed for viral status, pull the key points out and post them on your news feed as a bulleted list or infographic. Share high-quality articles from other sites on your feed or reformat them as listicles, images, or other forms.

Also, create micro-content — short videos, infographics, mini bursts of text, and relevant images. Information overload is a real problem today, with the overwhelming amounts of information blasted at constantly at busy people who have neither the time nor the interest in reading long articles or watching 10-minute videos. Balance longer pieces with quick, eye-catching posts.

And don’t forget about blogs. They provide you the opportunity to share information and to engage your followers with comments and feedback at the same time. Again, you don’t have to carry the whole load here, either. Work with bloggers to share your services and highlight your products on their own blogs; use analytics to find influencers and invite them to let their followers know what you have to offer.

3. Make Your Social Commerce Content Engaging

Sharing information is an important part of increasing online sales, but you want to offer more than passive, static blurbs. Interact with your customers by asking questions or posting polls to involve them. Encourage them to leave reviews; studies show that 69 percent of consumers check online reviews prior to making purchases, and 56 percent report that even reviews written by strangers are helpful.

Use special offers to engage followers, as well. Make it clear that the offers are available only to those who follow your business page, and create a feeling of urgency with short time limits on them. People like that sense of exclusivity, and they will come back frequently to find the next great offer.

There are many more tricks to using social commerce strategies to increase online sales, but these will help you begin driving more traffic to your store and converting more visitors to buyers.

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