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Social Media for Ecommerce

How important is Social Media for Ecommerce businesses?

It’s massively important and is the public face of your organisation. It allows you to have a presence in people’s lives, on a fairly regular basis. You can be a constant reminder of who your brand is, and what it is that you do. And it’s just about how you put that across – this will decide whether you win or lose orders from Social Media.

If you don’t have a presence on social media these days, some people begin to get a bit suspicious – why haven’t you got a Facebook page? What have you got to hide? So there is an element of that – you kind of have to have some skin in the game. Otherwise people are thinking, where’s the public face to this business?

If you sign up to one of the online-only banks, one of the questions was to give a link to your social media profile, so they could verify that it’s you. When the banks start asking you for social verification, you can tell how important it is!

Where should an Ecommerce brand start, with Social Media?

It’s very dependent really, on the audience you want to reach. If you’re going to be using LinkedIn, that’s a very B2B social media network. So if you’ve got a business product, LinkedIn would be a good place to start. Twitter can be good for B2B as well, but it’s full of individuals with very strong opinions.

Facebook is a necessary evil, just because so many people are on it and use it daily. A lot of people ask, “If I’m selling B2B, do I need to be on Facebook?”. But I would say that these businesses should still push Facebook, as their client’s staff probably use Facebook. And it is the behemoth – over 2 billion personal accounts.

Instagram (owned by Facebook), is a very visual platform and full of creative people. It’s a younger demographic, but the older generations are slowly adopting the platform.

Pinterest is great for targeting a largely female audience. It’s also an amazing driver of traffic to your website, because people can pin images from your website directly to Pinterest.

TikTok is new and uncharted territory for a lot of people, but with a very young and affluent demographic on there. If you can use it creatively, it can really bring awareness to your brand.

Lastly, there’s YouTube (owned by Google). Absolutely brilliant if you’re able to create video content. Definitely worth investing in, to be seen as an expert in your niche.

How easy is it to drive sales via Social Media?

To be completely honest, it’s not that easy. If we look at digital marketing overall, email newsletters convert really really well and can drive an awful lot of traffic to websites, if you publish weekly and fill it with fresh quality content. These can then be backed-up by a Social Media campaign, perhaps with ecommerce triggers, on platforms such as Instagram. There are more people doing that now and I see Instagram as a real key area that I would suggest.

On social media, don’t go in for the sale immediately, when you get a new follower, view or comment. You need to wine and dine the prospective customers with great content first. So build up confidence in them first, that you’re an expert. Don’t try and sell to them on day one. You have to build knowledge and trust, before you can start going in and trying to sell to people.

Should Ecommerce brands try Paid Social advertising?

Definitely. Paid social media is fantastic, because unlike most other forms of advertising, it’s really targeted. Facebook is the best ad platform, because it has so much information about people.

Facebook knows the date of birth, job title, location, hobbies, interests and habits of most of us. So it can be really targeted and you can profile people quite well.

LinkedIn is pretty strong too, but slightly more expensive than Facebook. But again, if you’re targeting B2B, it’s definitely worth looking into.

Instagram is owned by Facebook and I have bought so many more things that have been advertised to me on Instagram, than any other social media channel. It just knows the stuff I like and puts it in front of me.

I gave up on Twitter advertising several years ago, because there’s very little information it knows about us, apart from the content that we put out there. So in terms of tips, really I would drill down on those audiences.

If you’re advertising say on Facebook, you can be very specific on gender, age, occupation and of course, geography as well. Where do they live? If you’re a local business and you’re trying to target people in your area, you can be very specific about where those adverts are placed.

Should the Organic and Paid social media campaigns be managed by different people / agencies?

There’s definitely a skill overlap with Organic and Paid social media – more than there is with Organic and Paid Search. You can learn a lot about your audience via the organic content that you’re already putting out there. It can really help to inform and guide the type of content that you put out there, in terms of when you want to put some budget behind it.

But for me, the key is testing this sort of stuff. No two audiences are ever going to be the same. So there’s no definitive answer. You need to test to see what sort of stuff works with your audience. If there’s Shoe Shop A and Shoe Shop B, just because Paid Social worked for one, doesn’t mean that it’ll work for the other. We’re dealing with human beings at the end of the day.

But I would definitely entrust both tasks to the same organisation on in-house team. But first of all, test, see what works and then put some money behind the stuff that is working.

Should brands only sell in Social Media posts, or post opinions and small talk as well?

I’m not a massive fan of the hard sell, personally, and I don’t advocate that for my clients. I believe in integrity. If you want that quick buck, it may work initially, but it won’t work for you in the long term. I’m sure that we’re all trying to run businesses and grow businesses and sustain them. And if you leave a sour taste in someone’s mouth initially by making a quick buck, then you’re not going to get them as repeat customers. I would absolutely say that the softer approach will work better in the longer term.

I really love it when brands join in with conversations. You see examples of the fast food chains, having conversations with each other. And it works really well for the fast food chains, because that kind of stuff makes the news and goes viral. If you’ve got someone in-house working on social media, give them the freedom to let loose on social, to really start interacting with your audience. That’s when people start to fall in love with brands.

When a customer gets in touch via social, the worst thing you can do is ignore them, by simply replying and acknowledging them. Imagine how that makes someone feel. I’m an advocate of getting involved in conversations that are relevant. Don’t try and shoe horn yourself into conversations, which have nothing at all to do with your product or your brand. But if you can have conversations with people, certainly if they’re reaching out to you, I would consider it rude not to enter a personal interaction with them.

Should you post as an anonymous person within your brand, or put a face to the person who’s running the brand account?

It’s a good question. Now I’ve actually seen it work both ways.

It has made stars out of some people, simply because of their posts on a brand account. However, that helps the individual more than the brand. It’s definitely better to grow your brand’s image, than the person running the account. Don’t let that one person become more famous than your brand. The great example of this was the Museum of English Rural Life. There was a guy called Adam, who was running their account for them. He sent a really simple tweet, with a picture of a Ram with, “Look at this absolute unit” written underneath. It went viral with hundreds of thousands of Likes. It was retweeted 31,000 times. And yes, it got the museum some really fantastic coverage, but Adam who posted it, then got poached by a larger organisation. Depriving the museum of that talent and potential future publicity.

So as a brand, you’d be better off making stars of your content and product. But as long as the quality kind of meets your guidelines and your standards, given people freedom to interact.

Social Media is a two way medium. How do you handle negative comments and reactions to your brand?

Just tell the truth. If your customer service sucks, you need to get better at it, not hide the issues.

If you’re doing a bad job at something and social media exposes it, own up to it and fix it.

Even if the issue isn’t your fault, it’s often better (and cheaper) to apologise, compensate/fix and move-on. Because there are unfortunately quite a few keyboard warriors out there and they don’t back down easily. If you are attempting to get the upper hand and win a fight with someone, the brand will just look bad and many people will be watching. So I would avoid those kinds of confrontations.

I have seen some wonderful responses where people have fought their corner though, and they can often be great viral marketing, but you have to be able to back everything up and keep a calm head.

There is a response I use for this;

  • Acknowledge – Yes, we’ve read your complaint and we’re going to deal with it. We’re sorry this has happened. Let me look into it for you. So you’re not apologising saying you’ve done wrong, but you’re apologising that something’s happened.
  • Investigate – if the matter warrants it, get to the bottom of the problem and fix it. If there has been a bad experience and that customer has suffered, you absolutely wants to make that better. Because if you do, and you turn that situation around for that person, they could well become an advocate for you in the future.
  • Respond – Don’t get into an argument online. Message them, get a phone number, get an email address, and respond to them. But make sure that other people can see that you’ve dealt with it.

Please Note: The content above is a semi-automated transcription of the podcast episode. We recommend listening (and subscribing) to the podcast, in case any of the content above is unclear.

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