Social Media, and more broadly Digital marketing, is a big, evolving beast and it’s only going to get bigger. Because it’s so big, it can be difficult to determine what digital channels work best for your business. This is amplified even further when you’re talking digital marketing for a business that plays exclusively in the online space, such as an e-commerce business.
While there are strong cases for just about every channel in the digital marketing world, marketers and ecommerce owners often shy away from tying a direct ROI between social media (we’re talking generally about content in this post, not so much ads) and their business.
We’ve built out a fairly robust social media content strategy for sales focussed online retail businesses, and that’s what we’re aiming to cover off for you in this post.
Two things determine the value of a product or service. Supply and Demand.
Supply – A brand controls the supply two things.
The product or service.
And information about the product or service.
Products should solve a problem. Exclusive products sell themselves – either because they have exclusive qualities (USPs) or exclusive pricing. Information about the product (in the correct form) increases the demand…
Demand – “Shut up and take my money!” To increase the demand, you’ve only got to supply the dream.
Make them want it.
Remove the reasons why they can’t obtain it.
Make it desirable.
Make them need it.
Show them why they can’t live without it.
Make it so it’s more important than whatever else they’d spend their money on that week.
How? Make them feel better about buying.
To frame social for sales, let’s recap where it sits in the broader digital marketing ecosystem;
Digital advertising – the fastest way to get the attention of NEW customers (revenue growth).
Social Media – Once you have their attention; create the dream. (Fuel recurring sales).
Competitions – Keep them coming back and get them telling their mates. (Add to your social following and email database).
SEO – Be visible on Search when users have the highest intent to buy. You’ve probably captured their attention earlier, but now they’re researching before they buy. Working example – Driving traffic to your website to enter a competition, helps your website rank higher organically the next time that user is searching for a product like yours. (Cheapest form of marketing).
Email Marketing – Offer exclusivity and cross promote NEW products. Crazy exclusive (and closed audience) prices and value here is what drives low cost sales leads to your website.
Digital Shopfront (website) – Your website is what will close the deal. Remove the hurdles that detract from sales through CRO. Make users feel better about buying. And make it financially easier than ever before by offering easy payment (ZipPay or AfterPay).
The social media for e-commerce sales overview
Social media gives the user control over who they like, what they watch and when they engage.
Social media users don’t want to be told what to do. They’ve just come home from work or are quickly checking updates during their lunch break.
Social media is flooded with content and users look for any reason not to engage with a piece of content in order to filter out the fluff and engage with only good quality content that interests them. Your message needs to be clear, stand out and leave them no option but to engage.
Want to get someone’s interest? Give them what they want! Entertain them. Create the dream. Give them something to aspire to. Inspire them by showing them it is possible, and how they can do it, too.
Flood it with content that makes them want to do what you’re selling. The idea here is to really hone in on driving inspiration and aspiration. As marketers, our natural instinct is to brand our social content heavily, but that isn’t what builds audiences and engagement rates.
‘A user will engage much more with a photo of a ‘wish you were here’ tropical location on social media than they will a logo and product heavy shot’
Run competitions to give them something to aspire to winning. Make even your most desirable product achievable. Regular competitions give them a reason to come back and re-engage even if they are already a customer. Making it exclusive gives them a reason to come to you instead of going elsewhere to browse.
Competitions grow followers, harvest emails, and if you can get the user to your website; it helps with SEO.
Emails, page likes, user, interest, and geo-location profiling all help to identify NEW customers and reduce digital ad spend by improving ad targeting, exclusion targeting and creating lookalike audiences.
Use your growing EDM database to deploy email marketing. You own your email database, which makes it the cheapest audience to market to, because there’s not need to pay to reach them.
Increase EDM open rates by giving them a reason to open it. Follow content guidelines for social media. Make it exclusive. If it appeals to them and they know they can’t get it anywhere else, they’ll at least open it.
And because you’ve taken the time to grow your email database carefully using quality social content that has grown your page over time, users that have given you their email already love what you do. Your open rates, click through rates and conversion rates on each email will skyrocket, making the ROI on your social investment very, very impressive.
Get their attention. Give them something to dream about, which takes their mindset off closing the email. Feed them more of what they want. Then give them something NEW to engage with ore dream about. Then get them to your website to buy by enticing them with crazy exclusive (and closed audience) deals, prices or value.
Deploy CRO across your website to remove the hurdles that stop users from buying. Make it easy for them to check out and pay. ZipPay or AfterPay
Top tips for your social media strategy
Now let’s start getting into the key specifics on how to deploy your social strategy;
Quality Content First
Friends and family come first on social platforms, which means posts that provoke engagement with friends and family are always going to be winners. All social platforms report quality and penalise spam or poor quality content.
Mix your content aggressively and always measure engagement rates. Engagement on your social media will determine what content isn’t working and what is, but to give you an idea, we’ve had great success in the social media space with some of the following;
Create the dream – relevant, short and sharp; induce happy
Adventure and travel tales (inspirational)
Real-world (relevant) feature articles (content marketing such as blogs on website)
Tips and tricks 1 – short hacks contained in posts
Tips and tricks 2 – content marketing such as blogs on website
Do It Yourself guides (content marketing such as blogs on website)
Nifty upgrade ideas relevant to your industry or niche
Feature setups, rigs, profiles or reviews relevant to your industry
As many as possible, but it must be quality and engaging. Industry leaders post every two hours; but the content can’t be considered low quality or spam or social platforms will not show the post. For example, Facebook’s feed algorithm assess how much velocity you’ve built up in previous posts, to determine how far it’ll push your future posts.
The social media goal? A high number of high engaging ‘friends and family’ posts.
If your content is on fire, you shouldn’t need to boost posts until you have a targeted need. But until it is, it’s not a bad idea to budget a small amount.
All feeds filter potential content and display only what they believe is most relevant to each user, prominently in their feed. With an increasing amount of content competition, more brands coming on line, and less hours in the day, statistically your brand has a decreasing chance of being shown, unless followers engage… or you pay to play. To work out how much you spend on sponsored posts; you need to look at the potential return then compare it to your other marketing activities. From here, you’ll be able to define a ‘sponsored post’ budget.
Sometimes a very small social media sponsored post investment nabs just a few key influencers outside your current following that will then share, rapidly increasing the viral potential of your content.
Social Media Deployed
Social media in itself is a big space to play in and it’s only becoming more competitive and more of a time sink. To help you combat this (you’ve got enough on running the rest of your marcomms, right?) we recommend breaking the build of your social strategy into a few stages.
Stage 1 – Focus your social media channels and deploy tracking.
Every social channel has different users, and uses. Which means brand content needs to be tailored to suit.
Facebook is the most used social platform in the world. Instagram is only ¼ the size of Facebook, and has a very different user demographic. All other platforms are even smaller again.
Facebook has the highest lifestyle user demographic of all channels, with a demographic most likely to engage and purchase from e-commerce brands (higher intent to purchase, less ‘just browsing’ users)
Start by mapping the correct content uses across social platforms to determine exactly what types of social media content you need.
Once you’ve got a content plan in place, implement comprehensive tracking. Use Google Tag Manager, Analytics and any paid systems you’d like to determine what users are doing on your social channels and ultimately what users are doing once they get to your website from your social channels ( to sign up for emails, buy, browser, enquiry, learn more etc).
Focus resources on growing Facebook – it’ll be your quickest wins.
Share only specific and relevant content across second tier channels (Twitter etc).
Stage 2 – Build and learn.
Step one; double your Facebook posts.
Build a feed that informs and entertains.
Build followers and engagement by A/B testing content, posts, frequency and engagement.
Profile followers to determine exactly what content they want.
Then give it to them by the bucket load.
Target two posts per day with a 90% content weighting and 10% competition weighting. Look at any supply chain you have in place for your business and identify ways for your suppliers to provide content, lightening the production load on your shoulders. Encourage users to submit and share content to further lighten the load, and target friends and family content.
Stage 3 – Increase social media organic reach.
The number of followers your posts reach compared to your total page following gives your brand insight into whether your content is on the mark. The higher, the better. Social influencers can often reach 25-50%.
Target four quality posts per day. Split your page 75% content and 25% competitions (ramping up the branding a little). By now you should be around five to six months into your strategy.
Stage 4 – Build social media video following.
Now you’re reaching new users and they’re starting to engage, hold onto their attention for longer by increasing video content.
Video content should wow them within the first 7 seconds
Introduce new formats to keep content fresh
Keep video content exclusive
Ensure it’s inspirational or aspirational
Stage 5 – Now you’ve got social media momentum; monetise it.
Brands can monetise social in three ways.
Exclusive paid social ads – not available anywhere else – red hot deals or value offers capped at 5% of your content. These can’t be normal ads. It doesn’t have to be a discount. But it must be exclusive. If users know they can only get it on your social page, they’ll engage with it. Because it’s exclusive, you can also track it; making it the 100% visible in your P&L. These should be direct response, make ‘the dream’ possible and not approached in a conventional marketing sense. Instead, promote special deals organised by Friends in the industry and exclusive to the brand Facebook page
Targeted SEM and reduce wasted SEM ad spend. Social can help you reduce wasted ad spend across all digital advertising by enabling tightened targeting parameters. Social is great for identifying exactly who your customers are. How they think. What they like. When they’re online and when they are most likely to buy… so you know exactly how to target and deploy SEM ads. You can also create look-a-like audiences to identify NEW customers, plus, exclude audiences who you know won’t buy from you. Eg; you wouldn’t advertise an LED flash light to a camper who just bought an LED flash light
SEO – Studies show 30% of users – at most – buy direct from an ad. The other 70% have a look, go about their day, do some research, find the money, then come back and buy later. When your social page refers a NEW user to your website, your brand is saved in their browser history. The next time that user searches for a term relevant to your brand or product, you rank higher, and you get the sale instead of your competitor. The more often they’re on your website, the more visible your website will be to them.
By this stage your strategy should be cooking with gas. You’ll be pumping out up to eight quality content pieces per day, with 70% focussed around content, 25% around comps and 5% around exclusive offers or value that users can only get on your social channels.
Money in the bank.