The Role of Social Media in E-commerce

Friday, 19 May, 2017

In our modern, digital, internet era, we have two remarkable phenomena. First, social media. Second, web shops. A number of social media users and number of web shop users is in constant growth. Predictions are that in 2018, there will be around 2.67 billion social media users around the globe. In 2016, approximately 1.61 billion people worldwide made a purchase online. So, what social media and e-commerce have in common? Seems like, a lot.

Social networks and web shops became an inseparable part of our lives. So, why not combine them, someone thought. To increase sales and bring more revenue, retailers use social media to be present and build a relationship with their customers. And this is how social e-commerce was born.

We are all hooked on social networks and online shopping

We are all hooked!

The Art of Social Media

An average person spends an hour and 40 minutes browsing social networks every day. This fact alone describes the power and influence of social media. Excellent! I will just set a Facebook page or Twitter account and promote my business. No, you won’t. Don’t be mistaken. Behind the usage of social networks for business purposes stands a whole philosophy that needs careful study and application. Simply being on social networks will not grow your business and reputation overnight. Social media just offers you the possibility, and if you want, you can grab it. Be aware that a lot of hard work and time needs to be invested in social e-commerce. So, what are the tricks for building a strong online presence and delivering high-quality customer service through social networks?

Social media is a part of our daily lives.

Don’t forget to post what you had for lunch today :)

Growing Role of Social E-commerce

Social media came a long way from only connecting people to playing a deciding role in every business. People moved online, and they are very social. And brands have noticed the shift, for sure. Before, a business’ presence would be signified by a physical storefront and advertisements in the paper. But in a digital age, business reputations live and die by their social media standing.

Social networks have the ability to point shoppers towards a new product or some good deal. But not only that, social networks create a sense of community and engage people in a way to make purchases. The fact is that many people turn to social media for help with a buying decision and that around 75% of people bought something because they had seen it on a social media platform. In social e-commerce lies a huge opportunity for business owners, just if the strategy is set out well. Social media has and will play a critical role in the evolution of online shopping.

Social media gives big opportunities for e-commerce.

Social media leads, but it’s up to you to follow.

Utilising Functionalities of Social Media in E-commerce

Posting on Daily Basis

To start and grow your social community, you need to post interesting and engaging content consistently. Study what the best posting frequency is, how your audience reacts to different types of posts, what time of the day is the best for posting, etc.

Be Short and Concise

People have less and less time, so information overload is not an optimal way to engage customers. Give them short and only relevant information about the product that could interest them. Easy and fast consumption is a win-win situation. Also, add good visual content.  One post that includes image or video will generate 50% more likes than one without.

Set Your Goals

Think about what you are planning to achieve by using social media. Brand recognition? Driving traffic to your website? Increasing sales? All of this together? Make your goals calculable, so you can track progress and measure how efficient social networks are for your business. Track social media’s traffic number to your website, number of likes, shares, comments, etc.

Use Benefits of Different Social Networks

You are present on social networks, but there is no effect? Try using all the specific features that various social networks bring. Use hashtags, take advantage of Facebook Sign Up button, make a Facebook contest, add buyable Pinterest pins and similar. Social e-commerce means constantly following trends. There are so many details that can help you out to make your business more visible.

Use Reviews

People are more likely to purchase a product if someone before them used and evaluated it. Ask customers to leave their review about products and show it on your Facebook page, for example. These reviews will create social traffic for your page and consequently increase sales.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content is compelling because it gives potential customers social proof they seek. For social e-commerce, user-generated content is a golden mine. People love to see content that other people have created, they recognise themselves in it. Ask your clients for comments, photos, videos and post it to start discussions.

Know Your Customers

If you don’t know your customers, you can not post content that will interest and engage them. Get to know them through some questionnaires, surveys or social media so you could implement efficient strategy accordingly. Your posts should tackle their needs – find out what they are.

Don’t Just Try to Sell

Still, the primary goal of using social networks isn’t to make a purchase. People use social networks because of curiosity and social touch. So, respect that. Don’t be active only when you are trying to sell something. People will turn off and unfollow if you do that.

Utilise social e-commerce functionalities to find your path to success.

Find your social e-commerce path.

Trends For 2017

Real-Time and Private Communication

Although social networks are places to share things publicly, they are becoming increasingly private. Many users prefer private messaging or communication in closed groups instead of public broadcasting. Retailers should make sure that the communication to potential customers is pleasant and enjoyable. Real-time connection with the audience is an important trend because people hate waiting days for a reply on an e-mail. Whether you have staff members who are available on chat or using a live chat bot, the result will be a satisfied customer and a chance at conversion. In social e-commerce, fluid communication is crucial.

Customers appreciate real-time and private communications.

Remember to keep communication real-time and private.

In-App Purchasing

Today, e-commerce is spreading more and more on social networks, simply because a very high percentage of people is spending time there. Purchasing via mobile apps is a regular occurrence, and that trend will keep on growing in 2017. Some social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter ) implemented the option to purchase products directly through their mobile apps. And people use that opportunity because they trust those social networks, always coming back to them in the hope that they will find potential purchases.

Paid Advertising

More and more retailers recognise the value and importance of using social media in e-commerce, so the market has become a lot more competing. Achieving exclusively organic results is very hard because people will always see posts first from their friends, not from businesses and brands. After a while, you learn that you need to invest in advertising, and pay to get your business seen. Since more and more companies started using paid advertising, the prices for advertisement begun to slowly rise, too.

Advertising your e-commerce on social media is important.

Don’t forget to advertise!

Live Video

We had already talked about the value of product videos in e-commerce. In social e-commerce, it is the best way to stand out, for sure. Video grabs your attention while browsing, its content engages you. But, since of last year, some of the social networks released a Live video option. With this feature, you can live stream up to 4 hours. This feature can create brand awareness and build a community quickly and efficiently. It can be used in many interesting and creative ways – in live Q&A, product demonstration or behind-the-scenes preview. Because of these benefits, many retailers are using or planning to use it this year.

Virtual Reality

The role that will have virtual and augmented reality in e-commerce is huge. VR offers a memorable shopping experience, and that is why it achieves a big number of sales. Brands are very fast in recognising this trend.

Final Thoughts

Social media can be a significant game-changer in business. To utilise all the benefits social networks provide you, first do a research and create a quality social media strategy. And of course, put customers in the heart of it. Create a relationship, build a trust and long lasting relations. First, invest in bonding, then try to sell things. Follow trends, study social networks and novelties they provide. Every detail could be a vast improvement for your business, so try not to miss anything. Social e-commerce asks for a lot of hard work, be aware of that.

Surely, it will be interesting to observe how all of these mentioned trends will play out in the future of social media in e-commerce.

How do you use social media to captivate a new and current audience for your e-commerce business? Are you planning to follow these trends? Feel free to share your experience, ideas and questions.

start your social e-commerce strategy

Begin your social e-commerce strategy.

Ana Lozančić

Ana is a content Marketing specialist and blogger. She graduated in Faculty of humanities and social sciences. She enjoys learning and applying knowledge about marketing and social media, covering latest trends and topics about software development subjects.

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