You know social media can grow your ecommerce business… but maybe you’re not exactly sure how. It’s true that social media lets online retailers interact freely with customers, and on a personal level. But to reap the benefits of “social selling,” or social commerce, you first have to know the best strategies for using social media for ecommerce.
Below, we’ve collected a long list of ideas, tips, and advice on using social media for ecommerce. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, Reddit, and all the rest follow a lot of the same basic guidelines for social selling, so you can find help for whichever platform suits your business best.
Getting Started: Set Up Social Media
There’s always some initial setup when getting started with social media, from creating your profile to downloading secondary tools to manage everything. Here’s a quick list of tips to help you start off on the right foot.
- Use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to pre-plan content and use your time more efficiently.
- Download your preferred social media apps so you can manage your social presence on the go.
- Write your bios on each channel to include your name, a current special, and a link to your store.
- Use a consistent tone or “brand voice” in all your social media content — if you’re a fun and casual brand, use emoji and jokes, or if you’re a serious brand, speak professionally.
- Keep the content on different channels as unique as possible to encourage your audience to follow you on multiple channels. Match what performs best on that given channel.
- Instagram only allows links in your bio, so update them periodically with the latest links to new products and promotions.
- If you have a BigCommerce or Shopify store, you can add a Buy Now button to your tweets.
- Tweet out links to your blog posts with related hashtags.
- Have you written an ebook or other lead magnet? Let the world know by pinning links to premium content in your feeds.
- And don’t forget to put a seasonal link in your bio for your latest content like your hottest products for the summer. Here are a few other ecommerce social media ideas for the holidays.
- If you’re ever in need of new content, you can repost or share some of your older content that didn’t perform well the first time around.
- Don’t be afraid to engage with customers directly. Join the conversation and answer questions if they ask.
Market New & Existing Products
Like any popular public venue, social media is a great place to advertise. You can spread the word about new products, promotions, or events, as well as old-fashioned outreach to generate new leads.
- Post exclusive promo codes in your stories or streams to encourage more subscribers.
- Host a flash sale with the exclusive promo code mentioned above.
- Post video tutorials for your product — these do great on social media and can reduce returns if people know how to use them beforehand.
- You should also post unboxing videos, which perform great as well. Feel free to share and repost unboxing videos made by your customers.
- Launch a PPC ad campaign on Facebook. You can aim for website clicks, new followers, or engagement. Take a look at these 5 Facebook retargeting ads that combat abandoned carts.
- Facebook allows you to take your Mailchimp list and create a custom Facebook audience for targeting.
- Follow these dos and don’ts of Facebook Advertising for better-performing ads.
- Most social media platforms offer advertising options. Experiment to see which ones have the best return on investment for your brand.
- When you announce your new products on social media, include calls-to-action like “Buy Now” or “Read More Here.”
- Expand! Find a new or unknown social network tied to your niche and make yourself known there.
- Working in apparel, interior design, or crafts? Post ideas on Instagram or Pinterest and encourage your followers to try it for themselves. Add a link to a kit that includes all the items needed to recreate it.
- Broadcast a video of yourself working on a new product or using your product.
- Have an upcoming campaign? Post teasers for it on social media to build anticipation.
- Encourage users to post reviews of your business on Google, Facebook, or wherever else you need.
- Screencap your positive reviews and post them on your other channels.
- Host a contest for who can post the best photo with one of your products. Offer a reward to add incentive, and tie everything together with a special hashtag.
- Update social covers with new product launches or relevant marketing campaigns.
- Promote a group-buying campaign exclusive to social media. Give customers a discount if their friend follows you and buys at the same time as they do.
Build Your Brand Awareness
Social media isn’t always about sales. As a medium for socializing, it’s a great forum for strengthening customer relationships and attracting new ones. With a little know-how, your brand can become the life of the party.
- Follow hashtags related to your industry or niche and join the conversation! Targeting the right hashtags is a great way to filter out people who won’t be interested in your brand anyway.
- Tag your customers in shout-outs so they’ll share it with their social circle, increasing your chances of finding new customers.
- Beyond a shout-out, how about doing a customer spotlight? Write or film something about how your product is impacting one of your customers and share it on your channels.
- Message anyone who views your business on LinkedIn. Introduce yourself and ask them if there’s anything they’d like to know about your business or products.
- Tag the authors/publications of all the content you share. They’ll appreciate the shout-out and may re-share.
- If you’re friends with another account in your niche, try a social media takeover, where you manage each others’ accounts for a day or week. If that’s too risky, start with a mutual post swap.
- Post gifs, memes, or relevant content on trending hashtags to increase your impressions and show personality.
- Curate a weekly Twitter chat about your niche.
- A bigger version of the Twitter chat is the Twitter party, a one-time Twitter chat that includes prizes and a sponsor.
- Promote a charity event and ask followers to share photos on social media as well.
- Post images of new employees or interesting events with your business.
- Share TBT (Throwback Thursday) posts to build connections with followers.
- Add a “share on social media” button to your thank you page to improve mentions.
- Repost successful blog articles on long-form social media like Medium or LinkedIn. Make sure the topics revolve around your industry or niche.
- Speaking of LinkedIn, inspirational stories tend to get lots of shares there. Add an inspirational customer spotlight you’ve recently posted.
- You can even create and monitor your social media groups related to your niche. Try creating your own LinkedIn group, Facebook group, or a subreddit on Reddit. Similar to making your own group, on Pinterest you can create an open community board for your niche.
- Engage in some fun banter. Audiences love this type of humor. Check out Taco Bell’s Twitter replies for inspiration.
- Keep tweets short so they’re easier to retweet for your audience.
- Hire a designer to create fun animations to engage your audience.
- Get more attention with jaw-dropping visuals, especially for news announcements or promotions. You can use tools like Canva to create simple, original graphics.
- Add behind-the-scenes photos or videos to help viewers learn more about the people behind the brand.
- Launch a podcast related to your niche. Upload each episode to YouTube or Soundcloud.
- Not an audio expert? Sponsor a podcast already popular in your space or be a guest speaker.
- Respond to questions about your niche on Quora.
Manage Customer Service Issues
Social media can be used just as much for resolving issues as for creating new business. No one wants bad press online, but if you handle it correctly you can turn a bad situation into a selling opportunity.
- Website down? Keep your customers updated with live posts.
- When a positive comment shows up in your alerts, reach out and thank them. You can even offer a free goodie as a thank you.
- When a negative comment appears, reach out and ask them sincerely if there’s anything you can do to help.
- Publicly respond to negative comments for full transparency. Even if you don’t win over the user who complained, your response might still appeal to casual observers.
- If the comments get out of hand, you can direct message upset customers to find a solution in private.
- Create a forum on Facebook for buyers to talk about your product and get help.
Build a Following
Your social media success will only be as big as your following. While your content ultimately determines how many people choose to follow you, there are some tried-and-true strategies to augment your follower count, such as outreach, influencer marketing, and taking advantage of available resources.
- When you’re first starting out, you can run special campaigns (like this one on Twitter) to attract followers and build an early base.
- Collaborate with influencers and microinfluencers in a closely related niche to yours.
- Follow the people who follow popular influencers in your niche. Check out the accounts whose content influencers share.
- Share content from industry influencers that your audience would love — that helps ingratiate you to the influencers as well.
- Once your Twitter chat gets popular, reach out to industry influencers and ask them to be a guest curator.
- Of course, don’t forget to offer free samples to those influencers in exchange for a shout-out.
- Need more people to follow? Most platforms like Twitter and Facebook will recommend accounts related to yours. You can always unfollow them later if it doesn’t work out.
- Once you’ve got your Twitter followers straight, create specific lists to separate them into sections you can monitor separately.
- Do you have a favorite influencer? Create an alert for every time they post on Twitter and you’ll get a notification for each tweet.
Social media is a wealth of data, available publically for anyone who cares to see it. If you know what to look for, and sometimes how to ask, you can find it invaluable for uncovering new product ideas, features, pain points, and customer traits.
- Create a Twitter poll to ask customers what new products they’d like.
- Use your likes on Instagram as a measurement of what your audience is most interested in. This can offer valuable insight into product research and understanding your customers.
- Twitter’s audience insights allow you to see what other interests your audience has. See if this info sparks any cool marketing ideas.
- Go on the Reddit subreddit for your niche and see what issues are common among your potential customers.
- Search the Quora tag for your industry. What questions are people asking? Use that to drive your next blog post or video.
- You can publish your social media data on social media — followers who also work in your industry will love your findings!
- Use the native tools on each platform to research and track your growth in followers, engagements, and clickthrough. Use this info to determine if your content strategy is successful.
- Monitor what your competitors share and what’s popular with their audience to guide your own content creation.
Social media is critical to ecommerce success — you can use it to improve customer loyalty, maximize your holiday sales, and in some cases even sell directly on the platform with social commerce. However, with all its advantages, it comes with somewhat of a learning curve, especially if you’re just breaking in. Follow the tips above, and be sure to check out our other helpful guides about social media marketing, and before long you’ll be an expert.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published March 2017 and was updated in March 2021 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.