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How Does Social Media Drive Ecommerce Sales on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

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Written by Richard Protheroe
29th August 2017 • 16 min read

How Does Social Media Drive Ecommerce Sales

Recently I seem to be having the same conversation with my friends. When discussing one of their recent online purchases, I will always ask them “How did you hear about that company?”.

Invariably the reply will be “I heard about them on social media”.

My friends are mostly categorised as being ‘millennials’. A segment of people born after 1980 who spend 50% more time every week shopping online than their elders.

The fact that social media drives ecommerce Sales isn’t a surprise when you consider that just under 3 billion people will be using social media by 2020.

So just how can social media drive ecommerce Sales?

In this article, I’ll cover what I (and many others) consider the big 3 platforms for generating ecommerce sales – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

1. Facebook

Facebook Messenger

Back in November 2016, Facebook announced that advertisers would now be able to show ads in a user’s messenger home tab.

The announcement was met with much excitement from the world of social media ecommerce. Understandably so, when you consider that 1.2 million people are using Facebook Messenger on a daily basis.

So how does it work?

If you have a list of previous customers in your CRM system or want to reconnect with people who have previously messaged you on Facebook, then this is ideal.

The ad will appear between conversations in your potential customers’ messenger app.

These ads are great for complementing any ‘straight to messenger’ ads you already have and are proving great for customer retention.

All you have to do is ensure that ‘Messenger’ is clicked when you are within the ad set section of your campaign.

This platform was recently rolled out in July 2017, so it will be unfamiliar with your potential customers. Making it a great way to strike while the iron is hot.

General Facebook Ads

Facebook ads in general are a very popular choice for retailers, but are frequently misused. A gripe that I see regularly on ecommerce groups and forums is the lack of ROI on ads.

The main issue that retailers have is failing to identify their customer persona in the initial stages.

This is an opinion echoed by Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group, who is a frequent speaker on Social Media on Fox Business and Good Morning America.

The most important part of doing a Facebook ad campaign properly is to understand who the buyer persona is up front before launching the ad.

“Make sure you know who your target clientele is, what their hobbies are, socioeconomic status, buying trends, geographic locations and shared interests with partner collaborations”.

Facebook Shop

Kris also mentions how mentions the importance of a Facebook shop.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

Customers have said they are more likely to make a purchase through Facebook than any other social media channel.

There are some great companies such as ShopTab and Ecwid that can help you setup a store directly through your Facebook page.

Retargeting

When you consider that 98% of people won’t buy on their first visit to your website, it shows how majorly important retargeting is.

However, people think retargeting is just an eventuality.

They’ll see your ad again and then decide to buy from you. It’s not that easy, you need ‘social proof’ and a reason for them to buy.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

According to Jeff Gibbard, creator of the Shareable podcast, in order to convert those customers at a later date you have to realise that “People are used to gathering data before making purchases or all sizes. They compare prices, features, and look at reviews”.

People take retargeting for granted and in order to move them into what Jeff calls the “finalist bucket” you need to provide as much as information as possible in your ads.

Can you make a promise on being the best value? Can you display a great review? What can you offer that your competitors can’t? Only then does Jeff say that you can “ask them to buy”.

Remarketing

Traditionally Facebook drops a targeting pixel on the viewers browsers once they visit your site but there’s actually a way to retarget people who have never been to your website before.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

To do this you simply use a vanity URL rather than a generic short URL when sharing links online. Vanity URLs allow you to include your Facebook tracking pixel in the links you share, so even if the link doesn’t lead to your site you can pixel each person that clicks this link.

Sound a little confusing? It can be, but it’s explained brilliantly by the guys at Rebrandly in this video. It’s a real game-changing growth hack that could make you a lot of money.

Messenger Bots

In short, Messenger Bots are automated bots that can automatically message users on Facebook through their messenger chat. Basically you can design a bot and have it interact with your customers on your behalf. According to Peter Chung of The Social Panda these can have a response rate of “around 90%”.

This is ideal for eradicating a lot of admin work for you! What’s more is you can build your own bot in less than 7 minutes with Chatfuel.

You’ll have no need to respond to customer requests and the bots UI will recognise answers and requests and close out sales for you!

Don’t Forget Customer Service!

Replying to messages is becoming a crucial part in aiding how social media drives ecommerce sales. Emeric Ernoult, co-founder of the universally popular social media management tool AgoraPulse says that the best way of generating sales is “not to get new customers in the door, it’s to get existing customers to trust your brand”.

Emeric believes that no major growth hack will be the answer for you this year, but “good old customer service provided via social” is the way to grow your business!

Live Video

One final tip would be to use Facebook Live as a way of selling items. Broadcasting your items available and humanising your brand is a great way of engaging with customers. Additionally you can answer customer queries instantly.

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report (where 5700 markters were surveyed), “28% of marketers are using live video (doubled from 14% in 2016) with 61% planning to increase use in 2017 (up from 39% in 2016)”.

Image courtesy of Social Media Examiner

2. Twitter

Twitter Search

Scouring Twitter for keywords is a dynamite way of finding new customers!

Just head to Twitter’s advanced search tool and you really narrow down on tweets by your target market.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

Twitter has also provided a handy ‘search operators’ tool in order for you further narrow down your search.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

I wrote recently about a company who replied to one of my tweets where I mentioned the word ‘reducetarian’. When I then visited their Twitter page there was a pinned tweet that took me through to their website, brilliant!

From that they had a pop-up offering me the chance to purchase a book on the subject, very clever indeed!

One final tip is to search for misspellings of your keywords. If you haven’t noticed there tends to be a lot of typos on social media!

What’s great about this as well is that it’s free and will only take up a couple hours of your time.

Automated Posting

Many retailers find it difficult to find time on social media. That’s where a tool like Crowdfire can help.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

Crowdfire promises that you only need to spend a 1 minute a day on their app and they can help you target the right audience, push new products to your feeds and find relevant and trending articles that your target market would enjoy.

3. Instagram


User Generated Content

People don’t like being sold to and customers are becoming increasingly commercially-savvy.

This is especially true for clothing retailers who routinely resort to using prim and proper models to promote their items.

User generated content is key in 2017 and allowing your customers to promote your brand is becoming extremely popular.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

Black Milk Clothing are a fantastic example of this. Integrating their Instagram feed into their website and using a specific hashtag for each item of clothing.

When sending your item out just place a little promotional postcard in the package with the relevant hashtag. Perhaps offering an incentive like a prize draw. Even just offer a discount can encourage them to enter!

Two great tools to integrate your Instagram feed into your website are InstaShow and Product Photos.

How does Instagram impact how Social Media drives ecommerce sales? 

There is a misconception about Instagram amongst retailers.

They think I can’t include a link in my image captions so how will I generate sales?

Well here’s how! It’s extremely important when you consider there are 600 million Instagram users, of which 400 million are actively using the app every day.

Tools like Like2Buy and Soldsie allow you to sell your products directly through Instagram.

With Like2Buy, a link in your bio will take your customers through to a mobile friendly page where they buy your items.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

Additional to that it will create a ‘My Likes’ tab. here, a user can see which items are available to purchase from the ones that they have liked.

With Soldsie it gives users the opportunity to instantly receive a mobile friendly invoice for an item instantly, just by commenting the world ‘Sold’ on an item.

How Social Media Drives Ecommerce Sales

From there they can pay via debit card or mobile and the goods will be shipped.

Conclusion

As you can see from the methods above and the fact that only 2% of people who visit your site purchase instantly, nothing is quick and easy.

Social media expert Warren Whitlock states that “the goals of social media marketing should always be based on measurable actions that lead to sales” and that it “doesn’t have to be limited to clicks leading to a purchase immediately”.

So in conclusion, use Facebook’s messenger and bots services. Scour Twitter daily for potential customers and don’t underestimate the power of Instagram!

As Warren so eloquently puts it “we set up marketing funnels using social media, we look at the mindset of the person that will be your best customer tomorrow”.

Do you have any examples of how social media drives ecommerce sales? Post it in the comments below!

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Richard is a Content Specialist at Veeqo. He loves writing about ways for ecommerce retailers to increase their sales with marketing tips, advice on website optimisation and social media best practices.

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  • Great post.

    I’m constantly surprised by people talking about social media as a time suck. Or something they like to do but can’t make money doing.

    The primary reason I use social media is to generate leads and sales and grow business. The key is NOT to look like that’s the only reason you are there. People care about themselves and their needs, They seek connection and that leads to trust and that leads to very profitable customer relationships.

    Let’s stop making the kind of marketing we all hate.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2b4c1c5e94e03782dd7510bc34286329040f43ead334d7e9ab7f76c8640784de.png

    • Richard

      Absolutely @warrenwhitlock:disqus it is seemingly an after thought for many retailers!

      However many of my friends, and myself included (who are all millennials) are regularly discovering new brands and companies via social media.

      If I had a pound for every time one of my friends said “I heard about them on *insert social media channel”.

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