Social media is impacting how we do business online in new and exciting ways. Customers are sharing more and more data about what they’re doing online and the things they like. Getting people to share your products on social networks is a great way to bring in traffic and find new customers.
But ecommerce sites are stuck in a hard place because the number one goal of an ecommerce site isn’t sharing, it’s selling.
Take the “King” of ecommerce sites, Amazon.com, as an example. They have sharing tools on their product pages, but it’s not quite what you’d think:
While the sharing links are above the fold, they’re in the bottom-right corner of the screen. And you can bet that Amazon has tested that spot and found that it’s the best place for those links.
It’s hard to know how to promote your products and brand on social networks, without sacrificing potential sales. Along the lines of Michelle’s sage advice on 5 Social Media Tips for Ecommerce Marketing, here are 10 ways that you can improve social media efforts on ecommerce web sites without sending away buyers.
Basic Social Media Optimization for Ecommerce Sites
1. Get Data
First things first: You need to figure out where your site visitors are sharing your products. Without this information, you won’t know where to focus your social media energies.
AddThis provides data on social sharing trends which you can use to make some generalizations about social sharing right out of the gate. For example, right now social media networks make up almost half (44%) of all the sharing done with their service. It might help to add a “Share this” button for Facebook on your product pages.
But that data isn’t specific to your site. Who knows where your site visitors are sharing? They might be doing most of their sharing on Twitter or email.
The biggest benefit from tools like ShareThis and AddThis might be the sharing analytics they provide. You can figure out where your site visitors are sharing your products, and that information is invaluable.
You can also use Google Analytics with their click tracking and goals. Twitip has an excellent tutorial on how to track Twitter conversions and click data that you could use for any other social media site as well.
Once you figure out where your shared traffic is going, then you can modify your site’s design to highlight those services. After all, you don’t want 74 sharing buttons littering your product pages when you’re trying to sell a product.
2. Set up Facebook and Twitter profiles
Your site does have a Twitter account and a Facebook page, right? These two are the “big guns”, with hands-down the most traction for your social media efforts. (Be sure to follow @toprank)
You have to focus first on what social media networks make the most impact, and these two services are the best places to start.
3. Find unique places for sharing buttons
Instead of using a generic sharing widget in the same place across all your sites, try putting sharing features in prominent placements in different places in your site’s design.
For example, after a customer creates a review of a product, give them an easy way to share the review with Facebook friends or Twitter followers. They’ve already shown they’re in sharing mood by filling out a review, why not capitalize on the good vibes? You could create a simple link that sends the url of the page to their Twitter account to send, or use a Facebook share button.
Here are some other unique places on your site that you might put sharing links or widgets:
- The thank you page, after making the order.
- sale confirmation email
- mailing list email templates
There are plenty of other nooks and crannies on your site that you could add sharing links. Don’t feel limited by this list. Just click around your own site for more ideas.
4. Add product videos
Videos are great sales tools. People like seeing a product in action, so video is an excellent way to improve sales. Companies like Zappos have seen major increases in sales just by adding product videos.
But aside from the improved sales, adding product videos on YouTube or other video sharing sites adds another social factor. People like sharing videos, and they’re more likely to embed the videos other sites. Videos are a great way to add a viral factor to your product pages.
5. Engage customers
It’s one thing to just create a Facebook page or Twitter account, but it’s another thing to actually engage with followers. Social media takes work, you have to daily interact with followers to be successful. Easy to say, much harder to do.
Figure out who’s talking about your brand (or your competitors) and open a dialog.
Social media is a great tool to help promote products away from your ecommerce site. You can get people to your site with social media, and once they’re on your site you make the sale.
6. Add exclusivity
Make a strong call to action for your visitors as to why they should follow your brand on Twitter, Facebook, or any other network. Include special offers, coupons, tips, and other things that customers wouldn’t get unless they were following you on social media sites.
7. Don’t stay in “sell mode”
Companies often only post things related to selling on their social media profiles. But that doesn’t provide much benefit to your followers, does it? People want more from social media than just a constant stream of sales pitches.
Use your social media profiles to tell customer stories, stats, news, and other things related to your business.
Here’s a crazy idea: what if you shared one of your competitor’s deals? You’d show that your brand is interested in helping your followers, not just making money from them. It would be insanely useful to your fans, and it would add trust and loyalty to your brand.
8. Integrate your customer service strategy with your social media strategy
People are already talking about your brand on social networks, and odds are a few of them are venting frustration about something. Instead of waiting for them to call or email you, diffuse the situation by reaching out to them.
There are plenty of success stories of major brands reaching out to unhappy customers and diffusing situations quickly with social media.
9. Track what people click on social media sites
Url shorteners like bit.ly give excellent click analytics. When you share links on social networks, you can track and see how many people are actually clicking the link.
Knowing what gets people to actually click a link means that you can tailor your messages to get the most impact from your social media efforts. For example, you might find that your followers click a lot more on links to coupons versus links to product updates.
You could even drill down how effective types of links are across different social media sites. You might find that your Facebook followers like to click on coupons, and your Twitter followers like breaking news.
The more you know about your followers and what they like, the more useful you can be to them.
10. Give back
Giving back creates trust, which is crucial for your brand. Think of ways that you can be useful to your followers. Share news and tips that they’ll find helpful. Ask their opinions. Give them coupons. Interact with them.
The important thing is that you’re openly trying to be helpful to them. The more useful you are to your following, the more loyal they’ll be to your brand.
What creative social media marketing tactics have you implemented with your ecommerce site? Have you noticed rules of thumb recommended that do not apply to your situation?
Jaypee of enjayneer.com says
Impressive article! Well explained. 🙂
Elizabeth B. says
Agreed. You need to give back to your customers by offering helpful information and adding value to them. If they feel there is nothing in it for them, then you will quickly lose your following.
For the same reason I thin social media is a good place to share ideas and obtain information. When it comes to selling, I don't think it can work as quickly as other online marketing channels like search engine optimization.
A great summary to share with all new ecommerce website owners on how they should be using social media.
Thx for the insight. I try to put my social media buttons in the “hot spots” of a site. This is usually close to the main content and above the page fold
Video is not easy to keep up with for small operations, but it’s well worth it to provide that service. Bottom line is any continual improvement to your product will be reflected in customer retention and sales.
Talmadge Boyd says
Hear, hear to the product video.
And, thanks for saying, “Don't stay in sell mode.” Nobody likes that guy at the party. At it's worst social engagement turns your customers into billboards rather than fans. At it's best, you're empowering your customer to make a better decision.
Steve Hilliar says
Is there any niche other than the “Internet Marketing Niche” that makes money?
Lisa | SEO Brisbane says
Amazon just added recently the ability to sign in as an affiliate and then with the click of a button (literally – one click) you can 'retweet' about a product on Amazon to your twitter followers. It automatically adds your tracking code so affiliate sales are generated if someone clicks through and makes a purchase. It doesn't get any better than that for advertising on social media does it?
I personally would not want to send my twitter followers a link to an amazon product, that’s like someone coming up to you in a social engadement/party and trying to sell you a new product. Don’t get me wrong Lisa, I am sure it works for some people, personally I think social media is a distribution channel that is best used at a human level, not a salesmanship level. If you want to win at social media, than feeding helpful information to your social media followers is the absolute best way to go. After you have fed them with good useful info, than lead them through a optin or a sales funnel going to a product or service.
I like how you describe the social media marketing and its mood. Just because of the nature of these sites, I think if they help you sell anything, it will be just prolonged while SEO attracts more targeted potential buyers.
A nice little guide, for a sector that people often forget when talking social marketing. I especially like your tips about moving 'share' buttons around – though it's also good to remember that not EVERY single page is shareworthy. There is such a thing as overkill! 🙂
I think the bigger point we often miss in lists like this is the need for an overall strategy – doing things in silos or as one-offs can be a real recipe for disaster, especially when you're trying to justify the worth of social media to the people who hold the purse strings…
Will Egan Marketing 101! says
Thanks for the post. Very useful and detailed which is great for beginners. The main issue I find with companies is that they think having a social media arm is essential but have no idea why or how they want it to work.
I loved your suggestion of sharing your competitor’s specials. I would never have thought to do that but what a great way to build trust with followers who truly want unique gifts. Thanks.
I like the dont stay in sell mode tip. The crazy idea you propose sounds insane at the beginning but then it starts making sense. I will try it. Let's see how it goes!
Lee Gilbert says
Just a bit more on your point 4 regarding videos:
Marketing with video is a great way for you to connect with your visitors. People will often remember a face before they will a name so you're making a much longer lasting impression. And even though you can't see them, they can see you – more specifically, they can see your eyes. This has a huge psychological effect on people. The importance of making eye contact is the first thing you learn in any marketing course.
And while most visitors will just skip over the parts of your sales page that tell about your own personal experiences, they're going to stay on the page longer when you have a video and this will give you more opportunity to sell yourself.
One of the problems with using strictly text on your squeeze pages and sales pages is that your reader can't hear your sincerity so it's difficult for him to trust you. Your goal on any sales page or squeeze page is to overcome any objections your visitor might have to responding to your call to action. In most cases, the largest obstacle is lack of trust. Marketing with video helps you overcome this obstacle by allowing your visitor to see your face and hear the sincerity in your voice – it enables him to get over that last obstacle and trust you.
Great Advice Lee
Great post. One other item is take the opportunity to have a personality on Twitter and in other social media channels. Also that way customers can relate to your business too.