In a world where consumers expect a seamless shopping experience more than ever, shopping directly via social media has come as an attractive option for consumers. As ecommerce has grown over the last decade, it has evolved and changed shape, turning into social media ecommerce, at present. Since shopping has always been a social experience, the social nature of shopping has become more relevant than ever, ecommerce and social media now go together.
As consumers already use the social media to discover new brands, engage with those they already know and to research products before making a purchase, businesses stand to gain immensely through social media ecommerce by engaging their existing and potential consumers on social media. Business Insider Intelligence research shows that social networks are the fastest-growing channel for driving traffic to retail websites, and the world’s top 500 retailers earned nearly £5 billion in revenue from social shopping in 2017 – an increase of 24 per cent on the year before.
However, using social media to raise awareness for brands and encouraging social media users to visit an online store is one thing and converting those users into consumers is quite another. Therefore, the challenge for social media ecommerce lies in turning the social media ‘likes’ into measurable sales.
How to optimise the advantages offered by social media ecommerce?
Establish traffic and sales goals
Any online store has key performance indicators or KPIs. These are measurable statistics which include the number of visitors to a website over a period of time, the percentage of visitors that engaged in shopping experience at the website, the level of engagement such as page visits and the time spent by visitors at the website, among others. Capturing KPIs before the start of a social media campaign will demonstrate the effectiveness of the social media campaign. When a business is positive that the new traffic to its website came from its social media campaign, then it is useful to use KPI data regarding the number of users that normally buy something when visiting the site.
Businesses can be confident of their efforts on social media if customers coming in from social media are more likely than usual to make a purchase. In case the number of people engaged via social media are less likely to make a purchase, then it is an indicator that the social media campaign needs to be more effective. Overall, the baseline KPIs should be captured so as to compare the figures before the start of the campaign and those after the campaign.
Encourage sharing and reviews
User networking has proved to be the leading reason why social media has been so effective in increasing the performance of ecommerce websites. Since sharing of information on social media is the very basis of social media networks, businesses can take this concept a step ahead and use the sharing behaviour of social media users towards the growth of their online business. Each sharing of posts by social media users raises the number of potential users for brands. However, the challenge is to ensure that social users share the posts within their network.
This can be done by knowing the exact requirements of the target audience so that they are compelled to share the post with their friends. Defining the target audience will include the age, gender, interests and location details of users so as to convey the right message across to them in order to encourage them to share the posts. The shares should also include the social media buttons in order to enable social users to seamlessly share the posts with their friends. Another important aspect of social media ecommerce are user reviews. Getting positive reviews on social media websites is crucial as reviews by users will be seen by those in the user’s network, which may go a long way in term of reputation of a company due to the networking nature of social media sites.
Choosing the right social media site
Social media sites have their niche users and not all social media networks reach the same audience. Social media sites may be target audience-specific and vary in terms of the type of audience they reach. For example, Twitter is focussed on encouraging professional networking, Pinterest is used more by women and Instagram is predominantly used by young adults. Therefore, brands should consider the target audience before choosing the right social media platform for their advertising campaigns. It is advisable to limit the campaign to a few of them and conduct effective advertising campaign on those instead of having a presence on almost all social media networking sites and conduct average advertising campaigns on them.
The type of post content also vary immensely based on the type of social media platform, so it is necessary to frame the posts according to the specific type of posts supported by each social network. For example, in case of YouTube, video format of posts will be required, while Instagram will require a photography-based campaign, and marketing posts will be needed in case of Twitter. As these networks have their own unique capability to support rich content, brands should avoid using the same content in all their posts across social media channels and they should be specific to the unique formats supported by each social media site.
Keeping social media, ‘social’
A social media campaign will succeed if it follows the underlying purpose of social media – social networking. Brands must remember that social media is not for sales, but for establishing social contacts. Therefore, brands should avoid sales pitches while campaigning on social media. Instead, the goal should be to engage with the target audience and form a connection with them. It is about building trust among the users so that they are motivated and compelled to buy the products as a natural extension of their engagement with businesses. Sales via social media is achieved by building trust among the target audience by leveraging the networking feature of these sites so that they are motivated to recommend the products to others within their network, and not through direct sales appeals.