With more customers shopping online than ever before, and ever-increasing competition for attention, online businesses will only be able to maximize their success if they learn how to build on organic engagement in social media.
Don't get me wrong, gaining organic traffic through search, and even conversions from paid ads, are still great ways to build business. However, leveraging a community to build sales from organic engagement costs nothing more than your time. And besides that, there are plenty of tools available to help you along the way.
Here are five practical strategies you can implement straight away which will help boost traffic and sales through your social channels.
1. Create, Curate, and Share Awesome Content
If all you do through your social channels is promote your own products, your audience is going to burn out on your pages and posts pretty fast. The more the engagement drops on your posts, the less often your new posts will be seen by your followers - after all, channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest want to display only the most interesting content to keep users engaged (and there are a lot of brands competing for the limited space in a user's social feed).
Ramp up engagement by finding really awesome repurposed content. I'm not just talking about reposting old articles or sharing cool stuff you found on other websites. Instead, take the Skyscraper approach or create something similar to Buzzfeed's listicles.
Find an interesting topic and mold it into something much better than the original. That's what the guys at Shopify did when they were tasked with launching a profitable business in just three days.
Using BuzzSumo, they searched for pieces of highly-shared content that was relevant to their audience. Using the original video created by someone else, they took the tips and created a targeted list post, then shared that to a relevant community online.
It didn't take long for the new content to start driving traffic to the online store where the article was hosted.
While this surge of new traffic usually won't result in immediate sales, well-optimized content like this will continuously send traffic and generate sales over the long-run.
2. Embrace Micro-Content
One of the problems faced by many marketers today - not just those in ecommerce - is that the web is in a constant state of information overload. Audiences are bombarded with updates from their favorite brands, publishers, and media outlets, both directly and through the shares from people in their network.
With limited time and shrinking patience, consumers just aren't willing to spend a lot of time digesting content anymore, you can't expect them to be willing to watch a 10-minute video or read a 5,000 word article when they're on-the-go.
This is why micro-content comes in handy. Short, 10-second Snapchats or brief videos posted to Instagram and Facebook - or even a video converted to GIF format for Twitter - can bump up your engagement.
With micro-content, you get the same benefits of video, and your audience is more likely to watch when they know it won't cost them more than 10-20 seconds of their time.
Major brands have been leveraging this since Vine took off, including Lowe's, Doritos, Taco Bell, and even NASCAR.
3. Blogs Are Social, Too
It's not uncommon for marketers and online store owners to have tunnel vision and get stuck on the idea that social media is all about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. But blogs are absolutely forms of social media - they're platforms where content is posted, and that content sees shares and comments, just like the more popular social platforms.
When you're marketing an ecommerce business, be sure to include regular blog outreach in your social media strategy. It can drive a LOT of traffic back to your store if you do it right.
That's what Richard Lazazzera from A Better Lemonade Stand learned when he challenged himself to launch a t-shirt business in just 24 hours. After creating his store on Shopify and listing his products, he reached out to a local blogger to ask if he would be interested in covering the products since they related to an article the blogger had recently published.
When Richard woke up the next morning, he found a stream of notifications from new customers that came from that blogger publishing a post about the shirts. That post not only led to sales, but other people interested in collaborating with Richard.
Don't just create your own content, reach out to influencers and bloggers who align with your audience and work with them to get your business or products featured on other sites and social channels.
4. Create More Engaging Content
Whenever you post content on your social channels, it should have a purpose, whether that's to generate comments, shares, drive traffic to your store, etc. The best way to do that is to always create content with a focus on maximizing engagement.
Some of the best ways to do this include: asking questions, crafting strong call-to-action specific to engagement, and targeting your audience's emotions with a little controversy from time to time.
This is particularly effective if you center your content around a product or your brand, like Ahole Gear has done.
Doritos recently combined another one of the above approaches by creating a short video clip that leverages their product and adds a touch of political controversy to get people talking.
The more engaging your content is, the farther it will reach beyond your immediate followers as they comment, like, and share the content. This will lead to repeat customers as well as the acquisition of new customers who weren't previously aware of your brand.
5. Use Social Reviews
Customer product reviews are a great ways to build social proof on your product pages and let new customers know what they can expect when making a purchase from you. A lot of ecommerce platforms use apps like Yotpo to develop more engaging reviews in their online stores, but you can also leverage reviews from your social media.
Not only does Yotpo enable you to connect your social accounts to post user-generated content on your pages, but Facebook also has its own native reviews that you should activate. This way, when prospective customers discover you in social media they can see right from the channel, without ever going to your site, that people are raving about your products and service.
For example, Coval Vapes is a brick and mortar store that also sells its products worldwide on its online store, and it has amassed a nice run of highly-rated reviews on its Facebook page.
Be sure to consistently encourage your fans to leave reviews. Rather than ask for reviews through your social channels, send follow-up emails after purchases and include a highly visible call-to-action note. Ask them to please come back and review their purchase on your social channels, or within your store, so you can later benefit from greater social proof generated by satisfied customers.