Today’s social media spending is usually a fraction of total marketing budgets.
In fact, a recent survey by an American University found that, on average, social media spending accounted for just 9% of the overall budget. But that number is projected to expand to nearly 22% in the next five years.
And ecommerce marketers are starting to recognise the potential of social media to connect with a customer base. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are omnipresent in many of our lives. They’re the modern-day High Street; we use them to keep in touch with each other, research information, and increasingly, to follow peer-led recommendations and trends when purchasing.
For online retail businesses, effective social marketing represents real value. Social networks offer new ways to reach first-time customers and engage and reward existing customers. Your social network profiles and the content you share are as important as a business’ window displays and promotional flyers were 10 years ago.
Here’s my Top 3 Tips to maximise your efforts on social media:
1. Fish Where The Fish Are
It’s easy to fall into the trap to be everywhere, but unless you have a large multinational digital team, this simply won’t be possible resource-wise. You’ll do more harm than good to your brand to be online “in body but not in spirit”, so to speak.
Customer service is where most brands fall short here, taking too long to respond to messages or comments, or missing opportunities to sell with the latest trending topics because they’re not actively listening on social — which is as important as broadcasting.
So research where your customers are. Which channels are brands similar to you utilising? Choose 2, maximum 3 channels to begin with. If that means you don’t have an Instagram account, that might be OK, it all depends on what you’re selling and to whom and how many man hours you have to manage it.
(But always go into all the channels and “lock-down” an account in your name, in case some day you need it and you have to pay someone else to get it!)
2. Engage With Your Audience
While special offers and promotions are important, the key for retailers on social media is to not oversell.
Your explicit marketing messages should make up a smaller proportion of your content than the other conversations you’re starting to engage your audience.
You may want to show personality through humour, you may benefit from matching your products to celebrity images, you may find that aspirational lifestyle content works best.
You know your customers and if they have chosen to Like or Follow you on their social media channels then they want to know you better, develop a relationship with you, be seen beside you — just like they would a new acquaintance.
So treat these engagements as such — like real-life interactions with people you want to stay friends with. Be polite, don’t offend, DON’T SHOUT, be friendly and genuine and definitely don’t be a pushy salesperson.
3. Measure and Improve
One of the greatest assets social channels can offer businesses is in-depth analysis from statistics that include audience demographics, their behaviour, and more importantly, what they like and don’t like.
Do they prefer behind-the-scenes iPhone photos or do high-quality production images resonate better? Do they engage more when they feel you understand the other topics they’re interested in or do they desire your own original content?
The answers to these questions will allow you to constantly amend your messages in response, gradually perfecting the imagery and tone, until you find exactly what works for your specific consumer base. And then you just keep doing more of that!
Ultimately social channels are moving towards ecommerce platforms themselves, with Instagram’s ability to link products in posts and Facebook trialling a system that they hope will move customers from the old online Kings like eBay and Amazon.
Social media marketing isn’t a direct selling tool, it will not always drive immediate sales to your website. In fact, direct email marketing and SEO continue to outperform social in terms of link conversion.
Instead, your effort on social is an attempt to build a relationship, develop a brand reputation, benefit from public endorsement and reviews and eventually create brand advocates so that when the time comes to purchase, or they are susceptible to a spontaneous purchase, they choose you because your overall behaviour, brand and messaging has resonated with them on a deeper level.
Social media executed well creates an environment where sales are more likely to take place.