As consumers, we universally know that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are ubiquitous in our life as a form of entertainment, a method of communication or an opportunity to grow professionally. During these moments on social media, we’ve also been the victim of sponsored posts, video and retargeting ads in some way shape or form. Marketers and advertisers understand that there is a shift towards deep-rooted social and visual commerce and more marketing budget is being reallocated from traditional marketing to developing a social media presence. In particular, this trend is particularly correlated with e-commerce and its expected that 22% of business marketing budgets will be for social media.
Social media has become an increasingly important function to focus on for those in e-commerce because there are virtually no barriers to entry into this industry. Want to create an online store? Options such as WordPress, WooCommerce, GoDaddy, Wix, Magento are all newbie friendly platforms that are available for free or for a low cost. As a result, there are millions of online stores. However, the success of selling online is heavily skewed, with e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba and eBay leading the way and 90% of other stores making less than $100,000 in revenue a year. Since the market potential for online shoppers is already saturated (in the US), e-commerce store owners need to utilize the resources available to them in this digital renaissance in order to grow and capture a piece of the pie. Whether you’re already an online store owner or you have some ideas that have yet to come to fruition, here’s my two cents on what can be done.
The first solution to increasing your online store presence is to create a seller account with these players – a thought that is often overlooked since 51% of full time e-commerce store owners were not selling on Amazon. These larger marketplaces have a referral fee per sale ranging from 8% to 20%, but that should not deter your decision because your products are guaranteed to have the most exposure there, unless you plan to spend more than $55.2 million a year on keyword bids. Secondly, you will want to create a Facebook business page. Similar to recreational use of social media, Facebook pages allows you to connect and engage your audience. Facebook pages also serve as an opportunity to do things such as A/B testing to observe customer reactions and adjust your content to meet their demands. Most e-commerce store platforms allow you to add social buttons or link your Facebook page to the website. Lastly, you’ll want to create an Instagram business account. Instagram provides a plethora of tools that ensure that your post can be highly targeted through their hashtag, demographic and location targeting systems. Additionally, pictures are truly worth a thousand words and supplemented by the option to create video snippets that have super high engagement rates, it is a great platform to develop a brand story.
Currently, I am working at an e-commerce startup that sells mostly commodity products and last summer, my team was tasked with creating more social presence for our resealable mylar foil packaging under the brand name QQ Studio. If you do a quick search on Amazon or eBay, you’ll quickly see that mylar foil bags are sold by thousands of sellers. However, we noticed that we had more color options than most of our competitors. To leverage that, we decided to market our brand as the go-to colorful packaging option on our website and social media.
First, we created our Facebook business page and gathered followers by using a subscriber list that we built on MailChimp to do outreach to our highest valued customers. Then, we created an Instagram and Twitter account. Once these pages/handles were active, we started posting content and quickly noticed that our highest human engagement rates were from Instagram and Facebook and that Twitter was flooded with bots. So we focused heavily on Instagram and created the #packwithcolor community. We used this community to encourage our customers to share stories of their brands and how they were using our packaging. This created a flow of information that helped us learn about our products and also helped out other customers determine which types of packaging they should use. In return for their contributions, we would send them samples of products that we felt may be a good fit for their business or provide them with exclusive discounts.
Recently, we have also created personas for our bags in hopes of creating more connection with our customers.
Although we’ve set up our profiles and hashtag community, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what social media could do. We’ve yet to look into Instagram promoted posts and Facebook Ads. We haven’t done any video content creation, giveaways or events. But despite this, we increased our revenue per month by 180% since June. It’s never too late to add social media to the marketing mix and as more developing nations expand into social networks, we will see the relationship between social media and e-commerce grow even closer.