How to Drive Ecommerce Sales Using Social Media

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

A sales presence is a delicate balance in social media. We've got some advice for how you can use social media to drive ecommerce sales.

Here's our super-valuable, awesome social media secret of the day:  People follow you because they like you!

Wait, what?  You already knew that?

Ok, so while it's no secret that your social media community is comprised of people who like you, the real secret is that these are people who actually want to buy your products and services. Think about it - what companies do you follow?  We bet its companies whose products and services you actually buy.  That's why we follow beer companies and shoe manufacturers...  and now you might know a bit too much about us.

RelatedOptimizing Your E-Commerce Site to Boost Sales

Finding the Right Balance Between Utility and Promotional Content

While a sales presence is a delicate balance in social media, you have to remind yourself, THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY YOUR STUFF! (Yep, we really meant to shout that bit -- it's that important.)

Of course, if you've been reading the Rignite blog for a while now, you know that we advocate (often and loudly) that you create and post useful and engaging content. It may seem like we're contradicting ourselves a bit, but the fact of the matter is that the right balance is tricky. Too much talk of sales will push people away and turn off your community, but too little talk of sales, and money is left on the table.

So how do you find the right balance? Good news! We're going to tell you. Our recommended rule of thumb is that you should focus 80% of your content on providing value to your readers (trivia/in-depth information about your market space, entertainment, inside looks at your business, etc...) and the remaining 20% should be focused on driving sales (new product offerings, promotions/sales, links to featured products, etc...). We're nuts for the blend of entertainment and sales material that Nuts.com posts on their Facebook page (we're also clearly nuts about very obvious puns).

Related: Get quotes from ecommerce solution providers.

Driving eCommerce Sales on Social Media

Of course, if it was simple, everyone would be doing it. Rest easy gentle reader, we've got some advice for how you can use social media to drive sales.

Use photo galleries

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Be sure to create photo galleries on Facebook and Pinterest for your key product categories. Add photos of each product to these galleries, complete with a product description and a link to where this product lives on your website.

By adding a link to the product page on your website and a call-to-action (CTA) like "See this product," people browsing your social profile, or viewing a shared piece of content, will easily find their way to your site. From there, they can buy or explore other products -- and that's what your social marketing is all about.

Encourage sharing

Like a good teacher, you should encourage sharing. Unlike a teacher, you will probably have to give something away to get the sharing you desire.

The most traditional method is to use coupons. We're strong advocates of thinking 'outside the box,' but in this case, tradition is tradition for a good reason: Coupons work.  A few ideas for discounts that promote sharing are:

  • Offer a discount on a future purchase to customers who share the product they just bought. Include a CTA in the purchase confirmation email like "Share your purchase of 'Cat Rock: All the Hits Sung by Cats' and get 10% off your next purchase."
  • Encourage people to share a product they are planning to buy by giving them a discount if they share before they buy. A CTA like "Share this item on your Facebook page and receive an instant $5 discount" on your product images will supercharge sharing.

Of course, you don't always have to give away cash and discounts to encourage sharing. Have you ever heard of a DODO case? If you have, there's a very good chance it's because one of your friends shared or liked their content on Facebook. That's because the folks at DODO have mastered the technique of encouraging sharing.

Have a look at a recent post of theirs. By asking for likes in exchange for a product preview, they were able to encourage sharing without having to give away a coupon. Now that's one smart DoDo.

Advertise!

This may seem like a no-brainer (zombies everywhere are disappointed), but be sure to advertise on social media. Advertising is particularly important because it allows you to make sure you're targeting the right demographics, 'geographics' (that should be a word, so we're using it) and niche audiences.

Peer Pressure (i.e. Encourage Customer Testimonials)

Have you ever heard a used car salesman say "You'll never drive a better car, trust me!" Did you trust him? We hope not. Trust is a hard thing to earn -- especially when you have a financial interest in getting people to believe you. This is doubly difficult on the internet because the purchase is anonymous and remote.

Related90% of Online Customers Trust Recommendations: Are You Using Testimonials?

The solution? Get people who don't have a vested interest in your success to share their great experiences. Build functionality on your site and through social media that allows customers to post product and company reviews.  You can even tie it into a coupon offer -- "Tell us how you like your recent purchase and save $5 off your next purchase!"

Creep Alert: While not technically 'creep' behavior, you do want to be clear that these promotions are for posting ANY kind of review, even a negative one. You're not paying people to say nice things about you, you're asking them to share their experience. It's your services and products that will make them say nice things.

Your social presence is a critical element to driving sales, but only if you use it right. Remember to let your social network help you sell by giving them a reason to tell the world how great you are and you'll be driving ecommerce sales in no time.

Now it's Your Turn... What tactics have helped you win sales from social media?  Please share your winning strategies in the comments below.

About the Author: Glen Kosaka is VP and General Manager at Rignite.com, a social media management software solution for small and medium business.  He helps businesses grow by educating them on best practices for integrating social media into their marketing mix.

(Image: renjith krishnan via freedigitalphotos.net)

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