For the modern business owner, social media is an essential part of a solid marketing strategy. And for online retailers like you, it can be one of the most effective and efficient funnels to reach your customers. But making this medium work for your business requires following best practices and being consistent. We’ve put together nine social media tips for online retailers aimed to increase engagement and grow your business.
Tip 1: Visuals are key
Showing off your product, and providing examples of how it’s used, is very important for online retailers. Content with relevant visuals gets 94 percent more total views, and visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than any other type of content. In our fast-paced world where attention spans are roughly eight seconds, every impression matters.
Thankfully, Facebook allows for all different types of content updates: text only, links to outside websites, videos, and even photos and photosets. After researching 180 companies from multiple industries, Rival IQ found that photos on Facebook take the cake when it comes to getting audience engagement.
So, if you’re not using visual elements on your Facebook page and on your other platforms, you’re probably missing out on engagement and audience reach.
L.L. Bean does an outstanding job of using visuals to promote their brand and tell a story. Their images are crisp and adventurous, highlighting products consistently throughout the process.
Tip 2: Pay attention to what time you are posting
Before you can get engagement, you have to get views. To increase the likelihood of your followers actually seeing your posts, post them at ideal times for each platform. So, what times are we talking about?
According to data collected by CoSchedule, we know that people go on Facebook when they have breaks in their day. The optimal times to post your products on Facebook are 9:00 a.m.– 10:00 a.m., 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Twitter, on the other hand, is a high-volume platform that’s used by different audiences all throughout the day. The key to reaching your audience and other viewers who are quickly searching the web is by reaching them during their morning commutes and when they’re winding down at the end of the day. According to CoSchedule, the best times to post are: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., and at 12:00 noon.
And for Instagram, CoSchedule suggests posting at 8:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. However, we recommend that you take advantage of the insights provided by Instagram’s business profile. They will give you more information on where your followers are located and the times when they’re viewing Instagram, as well as which posts were most popular and how many people they reached.
Tip 3: Invest in Instagram
Retail brands have a long way to go—and they have a huge opportunity to take advantage of—when it comes to Instagram’s platform. The ability to easily place your product in front of potential customers is great for your business. And while Instagram doesn’t have the biggest audience size or activity volume, it’s the front-runner for user engagement.
Because Instagram is a visual platform, not only does the quality of your images need to be high (in fact, photos and carousel sets have nearly a 1.00 percent engagement rate), but you should also stick to an aesthetic theme.
A new company that has taken Instagram by storm is Uncommon James. The company’s page is updated on an “almost daily” basis, with photos of their products being worn as well as being featured on still or edited backgrounds. With engagement on posts ranging from 1,000 to 34,000+ likes, it’s a great reminder and validation that customers love to see the product in action.
Tip 4: Take advantage of Instagram Ads
Instagram’s ability to seamlessly insert advertisements in front of users helps get your brand noticed by audiences in a way that doesn’t disrupt the experience. For customers looking for more from your brand, ads typically include a call to action such as “Learn more” or “Shop now” in a banner on the image.
There are several ways to advertise on Instagram’s platform:
- Story Ads, which implement your advertisement in the stories feed, playing it between users’ stories
- Photo Ads, which implement your advertisement as a still image post in a user’s feed
- Video Ads, which implement your advertisement as a video post in a user’s feed
- Carousel Ads, which implement your advertisement as a photo carousel post in a user’s feed
- Collection Ads, which implement your advertisement as a group of photos that users can select to learn more
Because the platform is owned by Facebook, ads are managed via the Facebook Ads Manager. This provides the ability to specify an advertisement’s objective, identify your target audience, select your ad placement, and choose your budget and when to schedule.
Tip 5: Use IGTV
IGTV, a recent release from the Instagram platform, is a place for sharing high-quality video content. It provides opportunities for businesses to make new videos and also reuse previous ones such as live streams or horizontal videos. A key to this is that your videos can still be engaged within the same way as regular posts—they can be shared, liked, and commented on.
Because 60 percent of users discover new products solely through branded Instagram profiles, it’s important that you’re utilizing all that Instagram has to offer, including IGTV. Here’s how you can get started as you use this newer platform.
Tip 6: Include Hashtags in Your Instagram Posts
Spend the time to understand social media hashtags. They’re a great way to categorize your images, get your brand in front of audiences who might not know about you, and see engagement on the platforms. When users search for hashtags or click on one, they’re brought to all of the images or content shared with that hashtag.
If you’re struggling to find the best hashtag for your audience, utilize the search function on any social media tool. When you enter a hashtag into the search bar, you’ll get a list of relevant hashtags as well as the number of posts that hashtag receives (that is, its popularity rating).
However, it’s important to be picky when choosing the right hashtag. Long-tail hashtags are more specific and tend to have less associated posts. But this means that your content is more likely to be discovered or engaged with by users who are looking for more specific items. Additionally, because new posts are added to the more generic hashtags somewhat rapidly, this is a great way to ensure that there are more opportunities for your content to be seen.
Tip 7: Leverage Influencers
If you’re looking to grow brand awareness, follower count, and increase sales in a more organic setting, influencers are a great addition to help you get there. Since 2013, the concept of using influencers to promote businesses has hit the ground running, with the expectation that it will be an $8 billion industry by 2020.
Influencers are people who are well known (oftentimes considered celebrities) in the community you’re targeting (or hoping to break into) who promote your products to their fans and followers. Because Instagram users are given an insight to your product from someone they follow and “trust,” they receive the information as an authentic recommendation.
There are several ways to go about finding the right influencers for your targeted audience. Convince & Convert suggests going through branded hashtags and finding the users who have created the most high-performing posts. Additionally, tools like Influence.co allow you to filter results based on category, location, and follower count to home in on who would be popular influencers for you to connect with.
Tip 8: Use Twitter as a support platform
Twitter is fast-paced and personal, and brands often utilize this platform to get 1:1 contact with their customers. So if you’re struggling to find its purpose for your strategy, use this platform as a customer support channel. In fact, 85 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) utilize the platform to support their customers.
Jet Blue is famous for their quick response times to customers via their Twitter handle. In fact, it’s hard to find a dissatisfied customer on their handle because they connect with each one to ensure a great turnaround.
You’ll also see their fun engagement and support with their customers who aren’t looking for support, motivating loyalty and reminding audiences that they’re a quick response-time away if it’s needed.
Tip 9: Keep an eye on the competition
Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery! And while we’re not telling you to copy your competition, it’s important to learn and track what they’re doing on their social platforms.
When building your strategy to optimize your social media, take some time to develop a competitive analysis to help steer you in the right direction and help you create benchmarks. Social Insider provides a step-by-step template to get you started, including how to group your competitors, narrow down your focus, and develop precise analysis goals.
If you want to reach your online audiences, ramping up your social media presence to stand out in the crowd is imperative. But how you should post and engage on social media is just one part of putting together a strong and successful digital marketing strategy.
To continue driving impressive results, your next steps should be focusing on how to analyze and better understand your website and the user experience. Then, find out where your audiences are dropping off during the sales process and how you can reengage them with an email or by providing them with a related post/product at the moment.
Last modified: June 7th, 2019