5 Steps to Optimize Your Ecommerce Social Revenue

Social commerce is gaining steam. According to
Adweek
, the top 500 retailers brought in nearly $6.5 billion
from social shopping in 2017 and
research from Technavio
estimates that annual social commerce
revenues will exceed $165 billion by 2021.

While only 18% of online consumers in the United States have
purchased products directly via social media
as of May 2018
, forward-thinking businesses should learn how to
develop their fan base, activate their audience and convert
followers into sales.

The future of ecommerce has at least one foot in social. Brands
that want to stay ahead of the innovation curve should begin
selling through social media now in order to develop a strong
competitive advantage later, when shoppers complete a majority of
their purchases through their favorite social sites.
Millennials and Gen Z are already showing trends in this
direction.

To get started with social selling, here are five important
steps.

1. Set short-term goals that complement long-term business
strategy.

Start by setting goals. Before investing a single dollar or hour
in social media sales, take a step back.

Think about what you want to accomplish in the next two weeks or
90 days through social media. Most people might be happy gaining a
few new followers or increasing average engagement rates on their
social media posts. Instead, they should focus on growing a single
number: social sales.

Your first deliberate sale through social media is an important
milestone. Understand the different inputs that went into that
sale, such as the cost of labor and creative materials. Then,
measure that against the gross profit margin of your customer’s
order.

After doing the math, nearly every store owner may find
they’re hemorrhaging money with every minute they waste selling
their wares on social media. But knowing how many resources are
spent on social media maintenance alone can help ecommerce
entrepreneurs figure out a sensible sales target that might bring
them to break even on their social selling efforts.

Then, use that number as your 90- or 180-day goal. If, somehow,
you can turn social media into a profitable customer acquisition
channel in three to six months, you’ll be able to leverage your
favorite social platforms as leading drivers of growth for your
business.

But three to six months is a long time. To get there while
staying motivated, ecommerce store managers need to create smaller,
more achievable goals. Set deadlines for converting your first five
or dozen customers through social media. Then, 25, 50, or 100. In
no time, you’ll figure out the perfect strategy for promoting
your brand and products to shoppers who are ready to buy.

2. Choose your platforms wisely.

A common mistake business owners and marketers make is managing
five different social media accounts at once, without actually
mastering the art of fan or follower engagement on any single
one.

Source: Shopify

To help you prioritize social networks that may drive the most
customers and sales, Shopify analyzed
data from 37 million social media visits across stores that use its
platform, which converted 529,000 customer orders. Here are some of
their findings:

  • Facebook drives a majority of total visits, followed by
    Pinterest (13%), then Twitter (10.5%), YouTube (8%), and Reddit
    (4.5%).
  • In social commerce, Facebook reigns. Eighty-five percent of all
    social media sales were the result of Facebook traffic.
  • On average, Polyvore shoppers spent more per order ($66.75)
    than their peers on Instagram ($65.00), Pinterest ($58.95), and
    Facebook ($55.00).
  • But Facebook visitors converted at a higher rate (1.85%) than
    all other social media users, including Vimeo (1.16%), YouTube
    (1.16%), Instagram (1.08%), and Google Plus (0.96%).

For any social sales strategy to be successful, brand managers
need to focus their energy on no more than two social media
platforms to start. Otherwise, they risk spreading themselves too
thin and sharing half-hearted posts to users’ timelines.

3. Build a content calendar.

After you select the social media platform(s) to focus on, you
need to decide which sorts of content you’ll
share with your audience
and when you plan to publish each
social media post.

Although the topics you cover and your
content calendar
will be subject to change as you grow and
optimize your social sales strategy, it’s important to have
guidelines to turn to, from the very start.

Your style guide should outline:

  • Different industry-related topics to cover.
  • Language you should always use and tone of voice. Plus brands,
    words, or phrases that you want to avoid mentioning on social
    media.
  • Procedures for creating or sourcing visual assets.
  • Resources you’ll reference that either live in an internal
    repository or are from reputable third-parties in your
    industry.
  • Times to schedule posts throughout the week, and which type of
    content to share during each time slot.

To occasionally shake things up, make sure your content calendar
syncs with your product development timeline. Use social media to
promote new product launches and upgrades to existing products.
Other tactics to keep in mind are:

  • Drive newsletter signups. Since organic reach
    has continued to decline for brands on social media, many make an
    effort to actually own their audience. Share links that allow
    audiences to
    directly sign up for product promotions.
    This also gives you an
    excuse to have more regular contact with customers and stay top of
    mind.
  • Host giveaways. Offer customers a shopping
    spree or an all-expenses-paid trip to
    generate massive brand awareness and user signups,
    which you
    can later convert into paying customers.
  • Join groups, chats, and conversations.
    Participate in weekly Twitter chats or connect with customers in
    different Facebook groups. Get involved in bigger conversations
    about your industry.
  • Partner with influencers. Create
    co-branded products with social media influencers
    or sponsor a
    few of their posts or videos to promote your brand and
    product.
  • Use flash sales, but sparingly. As a pleasant
    and welcome surprise, share time-sensitive coupons and offers on
    social media. The main reason why millennials follow brands on
    social media is to receive discounts (62%). Just make sure you
    don’t spoil them and avoid conditioning them to wait until a
    flash sale occurs before they complete their next order.

4. Apply paid advertising.

As you begin searching for the winning formula for social
commerce, use paid advertising to boost some of your more effective
posts on social media.

Sadly, for most brands, organic traffic is dwindling as
audiences tune out promotional messages from advertisers and
platforms like Facebook, which prioritizes brand messages less
within its news feed algorithm. Paying to engage a social audience
is
arguably more rewarding
than actively maintaining an earned
audience.

To get the most out of your marketing dollar, segment your
audiences and apply targeting filters to touch different users at
each stage of their decision making process. Using
retargeting
, you may also place ads in front of shoppers who
have visited your store in the past but have yet to complete a
purchase, have only purchased products from you once, or are loyal
customers who regularly shop at your store.

5. Persistently optimize your creative and social media strategy.

As consumer behaviors and needs change, so should your creatives
and social media strategy. For example, as more shoppers conduct
research and complete purchases on their smartphones, brands should
build content that looks good on desktop computers but looks

stunning on mobile devices.

On a weekly or monthly basis, brands ought to prune
underperforming creatives and test new content formats. On social
media, things get old quickly, and store owners will need to be
agile in order to stay relevant.

For Sprout Social, blogger Dominique Jackson recommends
that brands:

  • Update their profiles
  • Use a mix of original and curated content
  • Republish posts with unique headlines
  • Test different images
  • Apply a variety of hashtags
  • Test posting schedules

Using tools like Google Analytics, store owners can measure the
ROI of each pin, share, or tweet they post. While you may be
tempted by vanity metrics such as traffic, time on site, and
pageviews per visit, don’t forget that the only number you should
focus on is sales.

Wrap up

Though social commerce is still a burgeoning tactic for
marketers and consumers, it’s something that you should
anticipate becoming a bigger and bigger part of your strategy. And
while there are plenty of recommendations out there for which
platforms to use and what kind of content to share, it all comes
down to your brand and your audience—now’s the time to start
testing and optimizing to see what works for you.

What’s your most successful tactic for selling on social
media?

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5 Steps to Optimize Your Ecommerce Social Revenue