The ecommerce industry has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years as companies large and small have raced to set up online storefronts. Most of these are mobile-friendly and are targeted towards local, regional, national, and even international markets.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 only served to spur this natural migration further along. This was demonstrated by the ecommerce storefront giant Shopify, which saw its stock value double in the first six months of the year due to a spike in new online market demand.
While the emphasis is often on setting up ecommerce stores and company blogs, though, one of the most essential elements of a thoroughly established ecommerce presence has been and continues to be social media.
Why Social Media Is Critical for Ecommerce
Social media is unpredictable, fickle, diversified, and often maddeningly difficult to predict or utilize. However, that doesn’t change the fact that between 2005 and 2019, the number of people using social media in the U.S. alone rose from 5% to a staggering 72% of the adult population.
That figure — especially when extrapolated across the globe — represents billions of consumers gathering in a select number of locations. Nowhere in the world can such a rich channel of prospective buyers be found congregating together. In a sense, it’s difficult to imagine an entrepreneur, manager, or marketer not wanting to get a piece of the social media action.
The problem doesn’t lie with recognizing the potential, though. It comes from failing to take advantage of it. As previously mentioned, social media is difficult to work with due to the unpredictable nature of ever-changing platforms, topics of discussion, and customer interests.
However, if a savvy business owner or marketing manager can flesh out several sound social media tactics that will genuinely benefit their company, they can successfully integrate them into a larger marketing strategy.
With that said, here are some of the best ways that you can use social media marketing within a larger online, ecommerce marketing plan.
Use Social Media for Customer Service
Social media is driven by conversations and social interactions. As such, one of its primary purposes for a business is to provide a valuable customer service channel.
You can use social media to answer customer questions and complaints — demonstrating your professional, customer-centric focus to the rest of your followers in the process.
Use Social Media for Social Proof
A robust 91% of customers claim to make purchases largely based on reviews. Social media is an excellent way to gather social proof for your brand—that is, reviews and feedback that serve as proof of the quality of your product or service.
You can use your social media as an opportunity to garner feedback and praise to help convince potential customers in the future.
Use Social Media to Find New Customers
Social media is such a vast place — nearly 2.5 billion people regularly use Facebook alone — that sometimes you can feel like a needle in a haystack. However, you can use paid advertising in order to push your brand out in front of potential customers and clients that, otherwise, may have never found you.
Consider crafting promotional posts, such as free shipping, discounts, or a reward program. Then use these as a promotional tool to help discover potential leads on social media and funnel them back towards your ecommerce store.
Use Social Media to Build Brand Authority
The popularity of social media has led to a rise in a new kind of celebrity: influencers. Every industry, niche, and demographic has its influencers. They can be celebrities with an audience in the millions, CEOs with hundreds of thousands of eager listeners, and even “micro-influencers” — popular personalities, such as a techie or an entertainment geek, with thousands of followers within a specific niche.
Working with social media influencers provides an excellent opportunity to gain valuable endorsements and build your brand’s authority.
Use Social Media for Time-Sensitive Information
Finally, the time-sensitive nature of some platforms, like Twitter, allows you to update your audience with urgent information in real-time. This is especially valuable during times of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, the mobile-friendly nature of social media sites — something that is a growing trend for digital marketing and ecommerce — means you don’t have to wait until someone sits down at their desktop computer or laptop to show them a short-term deal, promotion, or perk. You can send an important message right into their pocket or purse via their smartphone.
When a curveball comes your way, having a solid social media presence enables you to inform your audience about shipping delays, stock shortages, and brick-and-mortar openings and closings as they happen.
Supporting Ecommerce with Social Media
From customer service and social proof to building brand authority and sharing time-sensitive information, there are many ways that social media can bolster your ecommerce business.
However, if you truly want to improve your online presence, you must take the time to craft a social media strategy that is uniquely suited to your company’s needs. Consider the items on the above list and then use them as a launching point to begin building a plan that can genuinely benefit your ecommerce store and, by extension, your bottom line over time.
Adrian Johansen is a writer and researcher living in the Pacific Northwest. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.