Before we dive into what success looks like for Social Commerce, let’s define what Social Commerce is. Social Commerce is a set of marketing strategies, tools, and programs that work together to monetize a social media following.
Social commerce is the use of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to promote and sell products and services. The success of a social commerce campaign is measured by the degree to which customers interact with the company’s posts through likes, shares, and comments.
Given the amount of time, people spend on social media sites, especially younger generations, social commerce has become the indisputable market breakout trend for e-commerce. That being said, brands are using social commerce in multiple ways – ranging from branded hashtags to advanced techniques, such as user-generated content on both websites and social platforms, to social shopping where consumers make in-app purchases.
Now that you know what social commerce is, let’s delve into the benefits and why you should care about it?
Importance of Social Commerce
When the posts related to your products are shared by existing customers, their social networks notice you, enabling you to reach a target audience which is otherwise difficult. In addition to this, the targeted advertisement makes for a strong and affordable acquisition strategy.
Moving your customers from the acquisition to the engagement stage is where your online brand community makes a difference. The social commerce strategies such as branded hashtags and user-generated content prove to be incomparable customer engagement tools that increase the demand for your brand.
By building social brand communities, you have created a network of engaged customers – and prospects – who follows you. When executed correctly, social commerce marketing can help improve your customer loyalty and revenue from returning customers.
The ultimate fight, however, is retaining these customers who are on social media and keep them coming back to your brand. Observing that you have built your social brand communities, you have a huge network of engaged customers following you. Seeing your tagged product posts, these customers will probably opt for in-app purchases as you have already built a relationship with them. This great exposure to your brand with an easy buying process increases your customers’ purchase frequency.
Eventually, social commerce marketing helps you every step of the way when it comes to customer loyalty.
A successful social commerce program doesn’t work the same for everyone right out of the box. It has to be customized to match the brand personality of the company and the lifestyle of its customers.
When it’s done well, a social commerce strategy becomes an essential element of a company’s overall branding and marketing. When it’s misguided, a strategy can detract from your social engagement and, or worst case, turn your customers away. In most cases, it’s the difference between doubling your conversions and revenue or losing your existing customers to competitors.
Steps for Successful Social Commerce Strategy
1. Strategic Selection of Social Media Platforms
In order for social commerce programs to be successful, you must be on the right social media platforms. It is important to be strategic when picking social media platforms to ensure you are making the most of your time and effort. Although most brands can benefit significantly from engaging on Facebook and Twitter, many other platforms have nuances that require different strategies. For example like many retailers across different verticals, online bicycle seller Giantnerd has made great use of its Facebook page and developed a loyal following there. For instance, LinkedIn may not be the best network for business to consumer (B2C) companies. It’s important to know where your customers are. Businesses that are highly “visual,” like weddings, interior design, architecture, and fashion, can do great on Pinterest or Instagram. But Pinterest probably wouldn’t be great for a law firm. Make sure your overall marketing strategies mesh with the goals and mediums of the different social media platforms. Once you are on the right social media platforms, you can leverage the social commerce tools already optimized for that platform.
2. Clearly Defined Objectives
Just having a social media account isn’t the same as a social media strategy. If you don’t define what you want out of your social media and social commerce efforts, you will be floundering trying every possibility with little ability to track actual success. Define your goals, such as X% increase in conversions, or $Y in increased sales over six months. Or if you are just starting out, create simpler goals like 1,000 likes in three months. Fast-casual restaurant Chipotle managed to get more than 15 million mentions on social media in one year! Defining your goals makes it easier to keep track of your social media efforts to ensure you are being effective and easily pinpoint when you need to make adjustments to your strategy.
3. Realistic Expectations
A social media strategy can’t replace or represent your entire marketing plan. Instead, social media should be a piece that works with and supports your overall marketing plan. You still have to purchase advertising and collect and follow up on sales leads, but utilizing social media to bolster these other objectives can make them easier to achieve. Social Media can boost your paid advertising efforts by giving the customers who see your paid ads a way to directly connect with your brand. It can be a terrific adjunct to traditional marketing in terms of marketing your content and increasing your brand’s digital footprint.
Just like social media can’t stand alone as your marketing strategy, social commerce can’t stand on its own. You need a social media following and engagement to make the most of a social commerce plan.
4. High-Quality Content
Give your followers on social media what they want: rich educational information that speaks to their needs and their likes. You won’t gain customer loyalty with an endless string of sales pitches. Rather, you should use most of your social media posts to inform and engage with followers with the information they’ll learn from and enjoy. Coca-Cola has done amazingly well mining current events (like the Sochi Olympics in 2014) into Facebook content ideas.
5. Engagement With Influencers
Know who the influencers in your industry are and engage with them on social media. Building relationships with influencers does amazing things for your social media credibility. Suppose you operate a clothing boutique. Engaging with top fashion bloggers can help you raise your profile. If you have a restaurant, establishing relationships with food bloggers can help you tap into their established followings. A few words about your brand from an influencer in your industry can be invaluable and can significantly raise your credibility in the market. It takes time, but developing these relationships can be priceless in the long run.
6. Effective Use of Analytics
Social media platforms generally offer analytics you can use to see which of your social media content is effective at engaging with your customers, and which falls short. Sometimes, the difference has to do with what time or what day you make posts. Other times, the content may be the determining factor. But you won’t know until you get your hands dirty with the analytics. Analytics may hold some unpleasant truths, but rectifying your shortcomings early puts you on track to social media success. Utilizing analytics that’s part of your social commerce solutions can also provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your social media programs. However, something to keep in mind, the importance of using tools that work together, as a single platform, helps ensure you can develop a complete and clear view of the performance of your social commerce strategy and your customers’ lifetime value.
7. An Effective Landing Page
Without strong landing pages, your social media efforts will essentially render themselves useless. If the purpose of your social media strategy is to deliver traffic to your site’s landing pages, make sure those landing pages are designed to be effective. They should be aesthetically pleasing, with a clear value proposition and call to action, and sign-up forms should be as brief as possible. Great landing page design is an art in itself and coupled with a great social media strategy, your landing pages can deliver more leads and conversions.
8. Friction-Free Payment
American Express lets its cardholders link their cards with a Facebook app called “Link, Like, Love” and access deals by popular brands like Whole Foods and Dunkin’ Donuts. In general, whatever you can do to eliminate friction from the purchase process (like minimizing the number of clicks between product selection and checkout) will help increase sales. From making account registration easier with Social Login to utilizing payment tools like Amazon Pay.
A successful social commerce strategy isn’t about throwing a bunch of things at the wall and seeing what sticks, but about setting goals, having realistic expectations, and making a long term commitment to making it work in an agile fashion. Social media can be extremely powerful in the brand building if you’re willing to use analytics and devote time to doing it right. Incorporate the above elements into your social media strategy and you’ll maximize chances for success.
Benefits of Social Commerce
Social commerce enables your customers to interact with you through their social media accounts – at home, at work – wherever they happen to be. A robust social commerce strategy can result in:
Millions of users are active on social media sites and every day thousands more join these sites. According to Statista, Facebook has more than 2.7 billion monthly active users, making it the largest social network worldwide.
Engagement on social media is not only limited to interactions on the social media site, it can also increase traffic to your website. Sharing content on social media that links to your website help drive additional traffic to your site.
One of the most notable benefits of social commerce is improved engagement and additional reach via social media. Your followers’ social media interactions enable you to leverage a powerful branding opportunity. People who receive regular communication from a company increase their engagement with the brand.
While social commerce can expand and builds strong relationships with your audience, it can also be a tool in the selling and promotion of your products.