Is Social Media Marketing a Must in Ecommerce?

  •    Meredith Wood is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans.

At this point, you’ve likely heard of the “retail apocalypse” that’s happening in America. Malls and brick-and-mortar stores are quickly vanishing as ecommerce takes over. But although the focus has been on physical stores and their struggles to retain customers, smaller e-commerce retailers face just as many issues while online giants are busy expanding.

This poses a unique problem for ecommerce small business owners. It’s not easy to attract customers when your competitors dominate the conversation and offer perks like free shipping or deep discounts. So, how can you market yourself to your target audience when retail’s struggling, and almost everything they need to buy is available on Amazon?

How Social Media Marketing Can Give You an Edge

If you’ve established a consistent, steady clientele, you may think that you’re exempt from using social media marketing. Perhaps you’ve sourced online customers in the past without it, and you don’t see the point in shaking up your social practice. Or maybe growing a follower base and keeping content in the pipeline seems like a drag on resources, and you’re already spread thin as it is.

But with so many ecommerce giants branching out across new lines of business, it’s becoming increasingly harder to get noticed online. Social media marketing has become a must for ecommerce businesses, as social media provides the best and most efficient way to reach new clients (and engage with ones you already have). Even a modest, manageable social media marketing strategy can make a huge difference in your brand’s reach and digital footprint.

Learn How To Reach Your Audience

Of the 81% of Americans on social media networks, most people look to engage with friends, family, and companies with which they identify personally. Most users log into Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to catch up on friends’ posts, and to get updates from brands and pages they follow. This creates a unique opportunity for your business, as a social presence provides a direct line into your customers’ attention span.

But it’s not enough to simply have a Facebook business page for your brand. According to MarketingProfs, brands’ social media posts have influenced 78% of consumers to make a purchase. That means you have to demonstrate value for your customers by posting directly to social channels in various ways—not simply directing customers to your website.

Basically, people go to Facebook to be on Facebook. It’s not enough to come up with a clever post and a link back to your site: You need to think about where and how you want customers to pay attention to your post—whether that means including a link to a specific product, or even providing them with all the information they need without leaving a social media network to get it in the first place.

Develop a Comprehensive Social Media Strategy

Next, you’ll want to think about your brand’s voice on social media, the kind of content that your followers engage with, and what kinds of products and services you want to promote specifically.

Developing a strategy allows you to venture into social media with a roadmap in hand. Figure out how often you can feasibly publish posts, what you want to write, and what tactics you want to pursue. You can always revise your strategy as you go along.

Reach More People With Paid Advertisements

Before, it was easy for brands to capture attention. But social media networks have realized companies will pay to advertise to followers. Facebook has since changed its algorithm, making it so that people will see more of their friends’ and family’s personal posts, and fewer updates from companies.

One of the most effective ways to reach people on social media is simple—pay.

Every major social media platform allows brands to promote paid posts to users—whether they’re followers of your page, a competitor’s page, or are just interested in a specific kind of product or service. You have lots of possibilities for customizing your audience to reach people of different ages, genders, and locations in hyper-specific demographics.

Instagram is also poised to pull in more than $6 billion in ad revenue in 2018. Just like Facebook, Instagram also lets you customize your audience to coincide with your core customer base. It’s easy to push ads on both networks at the same time, too, given that Facebook owns Instagram and the two networks share the same advertising platform.

You’ll want to strike the right balance between users who fit within your company’s base, but without making your parameters so specific that you’re only hitting a small number of people. Not only will you pay more for these ads, you’ll also hit fewer potential customers in the process.

Offer In-App Purchases

Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all offer business accounts with the means to sell directly to customers without forcing them to complete the transaction on a different web site.

Consider offering your goods via these platforms; doing so means customers won’t even have to leave their social app to complete their purchase. This is especially helpful if your website needs some help in the user experience department, as you can boost sales while working out your site’s design kinks.

Work with (the Right) Influencers

Almost half of all consumers polled in a recent study said that they rely on influencer opinions when making purchases. The good (and bad) news is that most influencers can be bought. All but a few influencers supplement their work by way of financial deals with businesses. It’s an unavoidable aspect of influencer marketing.

But just because someone has millions of followers doesn’t mean that he or she is worth your time—let alone your money. Big-name influencers can be costly and underperform in terms of drumming up business. The more products they promote, the less genuine they appear to users.

Consider approaching micro-influencers instead. These are social media figures who have smaller, but more engaged, follower bases. They appeal to specific niches, which can arguably make them more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers.

Dive into Social Media Marketing and Make Your Company Shine

The nature of ecommerce means that no small business owner can afford to cut corners on establishing their brand across the internet. And the best way to capture the attention of future customers is by reaching them where they live: social media.