E-commerce on Social Media: A Guide to Social Shopping Basics

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From its humble beginnings as a simple tool that helped friends connect to friends, social media has grown into a marketing phenomenon. It’s now an integral part of people’s lives, with Facebook activity currently taking up no less than 50 minutes of each of their 2 billion users’ days.

E-commerce brands simply cannot ignore the opportunity that social media serves up. Particularly because the E-commerce-specific statistics are even more astonishing than the raw user data. 90% of consumers use social media for help with a buying decision, while 75% of people have purchased a product after seeing it on social media.

So what do you need to know about social shopping as an e-commerce business?

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Building your social presence

First thing’s first – before you start selling on social channels, you first need to have a presence. Without a strong social brand, your social selling efforts will be finished before they even begin.

Being on social media goes over and above the ability to sell to people. People will be talking about your brand on social media whether you have a presence there or not. You might as well gain some control over the situation by answering people’s queries and addressing their concerns. If you do this well enough you could even win some admirers who may become brand advocates into the future!

Which social platforms are best?

So which platforms should a savvy E-commerce business focus on? Let’s take a look at the strengths of each:

Facebook: A huge audience of 2 billion people, the most targeted advertising, plenty of in-built selling tools.

Instagram: The go-to app for millennials, forces you to deliver a beautifully simple message, a variety of CTA buttons available, Facebook-enhanced advertising options.

Twitter: Great for customer contact and instant updating, integrated “Buy Now” button.

Pinterest: The best source of referral traffic, the most “ready to purchase” audience, integrated “Buyable Pins” button.

In short, every platform has its strengths. Smart E-commerce businesses will think less about which platforms to use, and rather how to use each to its full potential.

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Directing people to your site

As an e-commerce business it’s highly likely that you’ll be selling your products or services directly off your own website, thus you’ll be hoping to direct traffic to your site via your social accounts. At the most basic level, this requires that you put a link to your website in the “About” and “Website” sections of your social profiles, and ideally within the text of any content that you might post.

Different platforms allow for differing levels of link plastering – Facebook, for example, allows for a very generous amount of third-party links to be inserted into posts and profiles (your posts will even offer the option of a website preview), while Facebook-owned Instagram allows for just a single third-party link to be listed on any profile (in the “About” section), and none with any posts.

Social shopping integration tools

But there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The process of directing customers to your website has evolved just as the relationship between eCommerce and social media has evolved. Most platforms now have the equivalent of “Shop Now”, “Buy It Now” or “Find Out More” buttons, and using these buttons can help to remove much of the indecision that customers face when the purchasing process is more distended.

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Sponsored posts and carousel ads

Ever since their inception, sponsored posts have proven to be a spectacularly effective way for e-commerce businesses to get their products out there. The hyper-targeted nature of social media marketing allows your business’s marketing material to hit the exact sets of eyes that you’d like it to. As time has gone on they have also become far more E-commerce-friendly, with “carousel ads” being the latest and greatest innovation.

Carousel ads allow an e-commerce business to display multiple images in the one ad, with viewers able to swipe through them. This allows a customer to view the full-colour range of a product, or a group of different products, without the need for a brand to launch multiple campaigns. Online retailer Wayfair saw a stunning 88% higher click-through rate and 20% lower cost per acquisition with carousel ads than it did with standard ads.

So in summary, the basics of social shopping for e-commerce businesses are:

  • Build a presence
  • Learn how to use each platform effectively
  • Direct people to your site
  • Use in-platform tools
  • Be smart with your sponsored campaigns

If you manage to do these things well, social media success for your e-commerce business should be just around the corner.

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