One challenge every store owner will face is how to increase online sales. Knowing where to start and how to stand out from the thousands of other ecommerce sites can be daunting.
The explosion of growth in ecommerce has only made it tougher to attract the visitors needed to boost online sales. To help with that, let’s take a look at a popular marketing channel—social media—and review a few top social media marketing strategies that can help you increase sales.
What is social media marketing?
- Benefits of social media marketing
- 17 social media marketing tactics
- Social media marketing needs a creative touch
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the process of using social media platforms to promote and sell your products, services, and brand. Brands can use both unpaid (organic) and paid social media marketing tactics to increase online sales and generate awareness.
Social media sites include the common ones that most people know, like Facebook and Twitter, but there are also lesser-known social media sites that brands can tap into. Determining the right social media channel for your brand depends on what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, and your overall business goals.
Benefits of social media marketing
When used effectively, social media can produce major benefits for your business. According to a Smart Insights survey, more than half of companies that use social media marketing find that it increases revenue and sales.
Beyond helping businesses boost online sales, social media marketing allows brands to have two-way interactions with consumers. This provides valuable feedback about your brand, products, industry and even competitors. Plus, it’s a great testing ground for ecommerce brands.
Now let’s dive into how you can implement social media marketing tips into your strategy.
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17 social media marketing tactics to increase online sales
Post compelling content frequently
- Automate word-of-mouth with social reviews
- Create micro content for social feeds
- Host a Twitter chat with your audience
- Run a Pinterest treasure hunt
- Make it easy to share your products
- Be active on the right #hashtags
- Align your posts with a trending topic
- Invest in an infographic
- Create quizzes and other interactive content
- Pin your best posts to the top of your profile
- Create a complementary Pinterest board
- Enable shopping on Instagram
- Participate in or own a Facebook group
- Test out retargeted ads
- Open a Facebook shop
- Run an influencer campaign
1. Post compelling content frequently
To grow your social following over time, it’s crucial to post content consistently. Studies suggest that audiences respond differently depending on your posting frequency, so make sure you test to figure out the best cadence for your brand. You can also compare your posting frequency and engagement rates to your competitors.
Numerous companies have looked into the optimal number of times to post on each channel, and it’s worth pointing out the potential appetite of users on each platform. But as consultant Jay Baer notes, your daily or weekly cadence is minutiae compared to having a plan and a process to create genuinely compelling posts on a regular basis. There are no “neutral” reactions, so if it’s not good, don’t post it.
Two helpful tools for scheduling future posts are Hootsuite and Buffer. You can integrate them with your browser and dozens of other apps and schedule posts to your social networks. These apps can help you cut down on time spent executing your social marketing strategies.
2. Automate word-of-mouth with social reviews
Using product reviews to create trust and gain insights into your products is a great way to increase online sales.
Yotpo is a review app available for Shopify sites that encourages customers to leave reviews after they’ve made a purchase. The process is automated, so you don’t have to manually reach out to customers yourself.
Connect your business’s social accounts and post the reviews directly to your pages. These reviews provide fresh content and help drive traffic from social to your site, which in turn boosts online sales.
3. Create micro content for social feeds
Consider the context in which most users are browsing social media. Maybe they’re on a mobile device during their commute, taking a quick brain break at their desktop at work, or killing time as they wait for their show to come back on after the commercials.
There’s one thing those scenarios have in common: Social media users are often scrolling in-between other tasks. That’s why bite-sized content is an effective way to captivate your audience. This social media marketing strategy works particularly well on platforms made specifically for quick experiences, such as Snapchat.
For example, let’s say you sell products for soccer players. On your blog, you wrote an article titled “7 Training Exercises to Improve Your Soccer Skills.” You then repurpose that content into seven pieces of micro content for use on social—one for each exercise. That would play much better than trying to cram an entire article into a much smaller social media experience.
4. Host a Twitter chat with your audience
Engagement is critical to keep any online community alive and well. A great tactic to grow your Twitter following and boost online sales is by hosting a weekly Twitter chat.
You can either co-host an existing Twitter chat or start your own. Co-hosting allows you to tap into an existing audience, while you’ll need to do more work promoting it if you were to host on your own. Over time, others in the space will take part and you’ll gradually establish your brand as an authority in the space.
Tip: Pick a hashtag related to the Twitter chat and ask your community to use it within their tweets. This helps with branding, makes the practice familiar to those who choose to take part, and allows you to search the chat later for content and recaps.
5. Run a Pinterest treasure hunt
One powerful way to use Pinterest to drive online sales is to use it to run a “treasure hunt” promotion.
How it works: You contact a few partners and ask each of them to pin an image on one of their Pinterest boards. Each image is meant to provide clues to the next image in the treasure hunt.
You get the ball rolling by publishing a blog post about the promotion and a link to the first image. Fans who get to the last image are forwarded to a hidden page where they enter in their credentials to take part in the raffle.
6. Make it easy to share your products
Social share buttons are a key element to increasing the “virality” of your site, which can in turn drive traffic and boost online sales. Make sure the buttons to the popular social networks—Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest—are easy for users to find.
You might want buttons that match your store’s visual aesthetic. But if you find visitors aren’t using the social share buttons enough, it could be worth swapping them back to their original colors, like how The Wilde Merrion has on their product pages.
To implement this social media marketing tip on your own online store, consider an app like AddThis, which has its own analytics and can help you optimize positioning and layout.
7. Be active on the right #hashtags
The hashtag has organized a big part of the social web according to conversations, making it easy to join in on discussions and events by posting under the ones that are relevant to your brand.
A social media monitoring tool like Hootsuite can help you find, like, retweet and reply to posts under several hashtags. You can use a tool like Hashtagify to find other hashtags related to the one you're trying to target, such as these food-related hashtags below.
Be careful not to treat hashtags the same on every channel. Here are some general best practices from various studies we’ve come across:
- Twitter posts with a single well-placed hashtag tend to generate more engagements than tweets with three or more
- Instagram posts, on the other hand, see the most engagement when using multiple hashtags, even 10+ in a single post
- Facebook posts do better without hashtags
If you know of a high-profile event coming up, you can prepare in advance to make sure you're ready to get in on the action. The more targeted, the better. If you’re a fashion brand, for example, consider live-tweeting or covering high profile events and commenting on what celebrities are wearing.
Most events are accompanied by hashtags that you can hop on. But the key to hijacking a hashtag is not to hijack it at all. Instead, you should aim to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful, natural way.
8. Align your posts with a trending topic
You can also reach new people with your social content by aligning your posts with trends that are relevant right now. If you pay attention to hashtags and news cycles, you can likely find an opportunity to add your voice to a conversation or parody what's happening in the world.
Take this tweet from Pizza Pops, for example, that capitalizes on the hype and conversations around the previous Pokemon Go craze.
9. Invest in an infographic
Investing in a professionally designed infographic is one way to drive traffic and potentially build backlinks, which are great for search engine optimization (SEO). The cost ranges greatly for quality infographic—depending on what you need and the skill level of the person you hire—but it can be well worth the investment.
Need an idea for an infographic? Check out sites like Visually for inspiration. Once you’ve chosen an idea, research the topic and identify the points that you’ll cover in the infographic. You can hand this outline over to a professional designer as direction for what you want the infographic to cover (or as a guideline for yourself if you’re going the DIY route, in which case you should check out tools like Canva or Piktochart).
Let’s say you sell bicycles and related gear. You might create an infographic that talks about the environmental benefits of bicycling. Some points or figures you might include in the infographic could be how much a daily commute saves in fuel emissions, as well as a comparison of the total number of car owners and bike owners.
That message speaks to your customer base, but is also compelling enough that many blogs and even news sites might want to feature and link back to it.
10. Create quizzes and other interactive content
In school, the idea of a quiz might’ve gotten groans from all around. But thanks to Buzzfeed, quizzes have made a strong comeback.
These pieces of interactive content work really well on social media—that is, if they can provoke quiz-takers to show off their results publicly. To do that, you need to create a quiz that tells people something about themselves or how much they know, so they're compelled to share it to reflect themselves.
If you want to try building your own, I suggest Playbuzz: a free and easy-to-use tool for creating interactive content.
11. Pin your best posts to the top of your profile
Any time you engage with others through a social profile, you're not just building your online presence. There's also a chance that those people you engage with might quickly check out your social profile feed and click through to your site or content.
Be sure you’re using all the features at your disposal so your profile communicates what you want and funnels clicks where you want:
- Update your cover photo to something eye-catching like a product image or a banner to promote a sale
- Include links back to your site in your bio or profile
- Strategically feature or "pin" a post at the top of your feed
While you might be inclined to pin a post about one of your products or promote a sale, also consider pinning posts that did particularly well so they can continue to show off your engaged audience plus generate retweets, likes and shares for you instead of simply getting buried.
12. Create a complementary board on Pinterest
A great way to provide additional value to your customers is by providing them with information and deals on complementary products which you don’t necessarily sell. Or, you can show products side-by-side for a price comparison—especially if your price point beats the competition.
If your store sells hiking shoes, for example, your Pinterest board could feature related items, like backpacks, water bottles and sunscreen. The other brands and sites you're promoting on your board will take notice of the incoming traffic from your Pinterest account; if they don’t, make sure you reach out and let them know. They may even adopt the same strategy and send traffic back your way.
13. Enable shopping on Instagram
One of the biggest challenges for brands on Instagram is linking. And when the main goal is to drive traffic and, ultimately, sales, that can be a big hurdle. One way to work around this to boost online sales is to add products to your Instagram posts and stories.
Take a look at this example from GoPro to see it in action:
Essentially, you put virtual product “tags” on your product photos (and stickers in your Instagram Stories). Mobile users can then click on these tags to see how much a product costs, and they can tap to learn more and make a purchase. It’s one of the most seamless ways to blend Instagram and ecommerce.
14. Participate in or own a Facebook group
Facebook groups are online communities that Facebook users can join. These groups are usually based on shared interests, so it’s best to join and contribute to a group that’s relevant to your industry and target customer.
The key is to add value through your participation, not jump in and start selling your products. Over time, you can nurture those relationships and establish your credibility in the group, and other members will naturally become interested in what you do.
Starting your own Facebook group is another option, if you have the resources to dedicate to it. Bath 2 Basics runs the Lovers of Natural & Organic Skincare Facebook group. With just under 300 members, it allows the brand to have an intimate and authentic interaction with members, strengthening relationships and keeping the brand top-of-mind.
15. Test out retargeted ads
As it becomes increasingly more difficult for business pages to gain traction in the News Feed organically, paid retargeted ads on social media have become a crucial component to many websites’ marketing strategies.
You also have more control over targeting who you want to see your content, as opposed to being limited to your existing audience for your organic efforts. The best part is, you can start with as little as $50.
When you run retargeted ads, you send ads to users who have been to your site. These ads can be personalized based on their behavior. Here’s an example of a retargeted ad from Frank Body.
16. Open a Facebook shop
Did you know that you can sell your products directly from Facebook? Adding the shop section to your Facebook business page opens a brand new sales channel—one that can help you meet your customers where they already are.
The Facebook shop section connects with your online store so that users can purchase your products from within Facebook’s interface. Check out how United By Blue sells their products in their shop section on Facebook.
You can learn more about selling on Facebook here.
17. Run an influencer campaign
Influencer marketing has become one of the more common website marketing strategies used today. If you can identify influencers who have engaged audiences that represent your target market, you can pitch them to share a sponsored post that features your brand and products.
Some influencers will ask for a free product in exchange for posts, while others may require direct payment, depending on their reach and the extent of the collaboration. Remember: Look for influencers who have a similar set of values with your brand.
Social media marketing needs a creative touch
Effective social media marketing should involve curating content, scheduling product-related posts, and automating what you can.
But bringing out the best in social media marketing is about more than broadcasting your brand—it's about understanding, engaging and reacting to your audience and the world they live in.
Because when so many brands use social media as a soapbox to pitch their products, it pays to be one of the ones building a real connection with their audience and adding a bit of joy to their day-to-day lives.