Social media is a key aspect of digital marketing, helping businesses reach millions of customers across the world.
Last year in the UK alone, 89% of people accessed the internet every week; 77% of these used it to research goods/services before making a purchase, and 60% to access social media.
In 2019, it was estimated that there were over 3.4 billion people using social media every day. This number has grown to over 4.55 billion people, based on a report from 2021. Which means, if you want to grow your business, you need to start taking advantage by using social media for your Shopify store.
What Should Social Media Do for Your Shopify Business If You Do It Right
Social media is a quick, inexpensive and – if you get it right – effective way to reach existing and potential customers. It can help you build your brand, grow your business, get your voice heard, and learn more about what your customers want.
Using social media, you can reach out to your current customer base and potential new customers, raising brand awareness. For example, over 80% of Instagram users utilise Instagram to research new products and services, and companies using the platform generally report increased ad recall, awareness and reach after running an Instagram campaign.
Research shows people tend to buy more from brands they trust. They tend to trust brands they believe are genuine and not out to make a quick buck. Social media can increase a customer’s trust in your brand so use it to share your vision and values, and show that you will treat them well.
Becoming An Expert
Once you’ve built trust, you can work on becoming a company people come to when they want to know more about a product or subject linked to your business. If you sell organic beauty products, for example, people might come to you if they want to know more about natural ingredients. Once they’re on your site, they’re more likely to buy products.
Increasing Advertising Impact
Every social media platform offers a wide range of data you can analyse to see who’s looking at your profile, following your company, or interacting with your posts. In fact, it’s estimated that 82% of users trust social media apps to guide their purchasing decisions, which is prominent amongst people who are millennials and Gen Z. You can use this information to target your advertising, so it has a bigger impact and reaches people you want to reach.
You can use paid or unpaid advertising, but if you use paid it’s a good idea to start small to see what works. This might include retargeted advertising through Facebook which advertises products to people who’ve already visited your site but didn’t make a purchase.
Increasing Web Traffic and Boosting Sales
By raising your social media profile, you should see an increase in website traffic and, ultimately, sales. To raise your profile, you’ll need to post fresh, interesting, content regularly, and use entertaining ads that keep people talking about your products and your company.
To show how big the impact can be, 93% of businesses with social media sites reported that their social media efforts had increased traffic to their website and 82% said their social media efforts had increased their sales.
Speaking to your Customers
Social media makes it easier for you to communicate with your customers. Good communication leads to customer loyalty and helps build your reputation for being a reliable company people can trust. This means being proactive if there’s an issue, addressing any negatives head on and as soon as possible, and dealing with queries and complaints in a timely manner.
Understanding Your Customers
As well as speaking to your customers, social media lets you listen to them too. This includes the good and the bad, so you need to be prepared for this. Remember, customers might not come to you directly, so keep an eye out for conversations that link to your brand or your industry and might help you understand what your customers want to see from you.
Understanding your Competitors
Given how powerful it is, you won’t be the only business on social media in your industry, which can be a good thing because it means you can see what your competitors are doing, and what is working for them. You can use this learning to decide whether you need to make changes to your business model or social media strategy. Don’t just copy what others are doing, though. Remember to stay true to who you are and what you want your brand to stand for, or your customers won’t trust you.
Done well, social media is a high-impact, cost-effective, way to raise your profile, grow your business, and attract new customers while maintaining engagement with the people who already know and buy from your company. Done wrong, it can it can be costly and time-consuming, resulting in a low return on investment and – potentially – damaging your reputation or putting potential customers off buying from you. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you should develop a social media strategy.
Creating a strategy is key
Social media is a wonderful way to help build your brand and your business. It can also be confusing and stressful with multiple social media platforms and a need to be constantly ‘on’ for your customers. You can make your life a little easier by developing a clear social media strategy based on your overall business objectives and the following six-step plan.
- Set Social Media Goals
Set social media goals that clearly state what you want to achieve. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timebound.
Without these, you can’t measure whether your strategy is a success. You can measure success using a range of metrics based on what you want to achieve and supported by the wide range of data social media platforms make available, e.g. if you have a target of reach, you might want to measure the number of retweets on Twitter or shares on Facebook.
You don’t have to use the same metrics for each platform you use; what’s more important is you have clear targets you can measure them against.
- Consider Your Audience
Depending on the products you sell or the services you offer, you might want to attract customers of a certain age, gender, or income band. You need to be clear on who your customers are so you can choose the right social media platform. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting time and money. Think about who your customers are and, if you were them, how you would want to be spoken to, what you would find appealing, and the platforms you would use.
Try not to make assumptions. If you’re not sure, take a look at your current customer base and the demographic information each platform makes available to help you make your decision.
- Learn from Others
When promoting your business online, there’ll be things that work and things that won’t. Before you decide what you’re going to do, look at what’s worked well and what hasn’t for your competitors or others in your industry. You’ll need to keep a constant eye on this as social media moves quickly and you need to too.
Remember, this isn’t about copying your competitors; it’s about learning from their mistakes and looking for what you can do that’s different and will make you stand out in potentially crowded markets.
- Complete a Social Media Audit
When you’re developing a new social media strategy, it might be tempting to start from scratch and open new accounts, or open accounts for every available platform and start posting. This isn’t the best approach. It’s much better to build on what you already have in place. Look at the accounts you have, the number of followers and whether they are engaged with your business.
Once you have a clear idea of your audience, you can decide which accounts to keep/open so you can reach existing and new customers. It’s also a good idea to check there are no imposter accounts out there, ones which could be misrepresenting your brand or damaging your reputation.
- Assign Resources
While social media can be cost-effective, there is still a cost, in staff time and paid advertising. Set yourself a social media budget and assign staff who’ll be responsible for creating and posting content. Depending on the size of your business, this might mean recruiting a marketing manager or outsourcing your social media to a specialist agency.
- Create Compelling Content
Content is king when it comes to social media, and it’s something you need to get right if you’re want to engage your audience and grow your business. Decide what you want to say and how you want to say it before you begin posting. You also need to decide how often you want to post, creating a content calendar that reflects this. There are different schools of thought on how to schedule content, but two of the most widely used are:
- The 80/20 rule: works on the principle that 80% of your posts should educate, entertain or inform and 20% should promote your brand. This way you keep your customers engaged without making them feel like they are being bombarded with adverts or marketing material. The Rule of Thirds breaks down content into three categories, in which each category should have an equal share of content:
- 1) promoting and growing your business,
- 2) sharing stories and ideas on your industry, and
- 3) interacting with your customers.
Not all content needs to be original; you can share posts from others or articles that might be of interest to your customers. Where it is original, however, it needs to be written in a consistent tone and style that matches your business. Finally, to make sure it gets seen in a sea of other posts, don’t just post and forget. Share and re-share your content to raise your profile, increase brand awareness and drive people to your e-commerce site.
Your social media strategy doesn’t need to be complicated. What’s more important is that it’s clearly structured, so you know what you are doing on each social media platform when, and the impact getting social media right can have on your business. It should include what you want to achieve through social media, who you want to attract, the message you want to get across, the types of content you will use to do this and the platforms you will use.
Different social media platforms work for different brands
Using the right platforms is essential if you want your social media strategy to work as each attracts a different audience.
Facebook is the world’s third most visited website with 2.89 billion active users. 30% of Facebook’s ad audience is under 25 years of age, and 32% aged between 25 and 34. Overall, women are slightly more likely to use Facebook than men, but this changes based on location, e.g. 74% of users in America are female, but 60% in Asia are male.
Facebook allows businesses to create customisable pages for free. From there you can post product updates, offer your services, upload pictures and share videos. For a page to be successful, it has to look good, and you have to post relevant content regularly.
Instagram has over 1 billion users checking the app at least once a day and as of 2021, was the second most popular social media app downloaded, in close competition with TikTok. It’s a highly visual platform, one where you’ll need to use images, and those images need to look good. And the need for visual content only keeps growing, with the introduction of Reels to the popular social media platform. Utilising a mix of photos, carousel posts, reels and stories can help to promote your brand further.
Instagram is also one where people are more open to looking for and at branded content; almost 2 out of 10 hashtags are branded and 80% of users follow a business.
With Instagram, users see posts the site feels they would like most first using an algorithm, meaning it can be hard to get your content seen; statistics show 70% of posts are never seen. Another downside is you can’t include clickable links in your posts, so users have to consciously seek out your website.
Twitter has close to 400 million users, with 206 million users accessing the social media app daily - the majority of under 35. There’s an even split between men and women on Twitter, with the majority living in urban areas. The platform relies much less on visuals and much more on getting your message across in a limited word count of 280 characters. Getting this message spot on is a real skill, one which Twitter users appreciate when you get it right, leading to more retweets and increasing your reach.
The main reasons you would use Twitter is to drive people to your website, engage in a conversation, or provide quick updates on your business. With over 500 million tweets a day, it’s important you tweet frequently. It’s also a good idea to respond to tweets from customers as 70% of users reported feeling more positive about a brand if they replied to a tweet.
Like Instagram, Pinterest uses images to get messages across, offering direct links to your website through posts (known as pins) and a click to buy option. Pinterest works well for businesses that can create good-looking content to sell its products and appeals predominantly to females.
In general, online businesses benefit from Pinterest as over 90% of users use the platform to help them decide what to buy. It might also appeal if your products are high-end or high-value as 40% of users have an average household income of over £80,000 ($100,000).
One of the most popular social media platforms currently is TikTok, with 1 billion monthly active users worldwide. Designed for a younger audience, TikTok’s primary audience are millennials and Gen Z, with 62% of US users aged between 10 and 29.
The video-focused social app primarily is used for pranks, jokes, dance and entertainment, however this has evolved over the years since it launched in 2016, with users able to post video content from 15 seconds to 3 minutes.
Whilst the demographic may not be suitable for some business sectors, it’s a creative way to provide light-hearted brand content that promotes your business and builds a relationship with your audience.
These are four of the most popular social media platforms, each of which might work for you depending on the products or services you sell or the audience you’re trying to reach. Consider who and how many people any one platform can help you reach and adapt your content to get the most out of each one you use. Remember to always stay on brand, paying attention to the look and feel of your content.
Be On Brand: Focus on Colours/Type and Imagery
People tend to access platforms in short bursts throughout the day, sometimes spending only a minute or two on a site. Which means if you want to catch a customer’s eye, you need to make sure everything you post is on-brand and looks good.
Make sure your social media branding matches that of your business. It will confuse customers if it looks different, creating a disconnect between them and your brand. Use the same colour palette, images and language on your profile and in your content. For images, if you use filters, use the same ones each time, don’t mix and match as it will make you look disorganised and inconsistent.
If you use Instagram, you might consider using influencers. If you do, make sure they reflect your brand, and you don’t just pick them because they have a lot of followers. Choose influencers who are genuine and have a real connection with their followers, and that those followers are the type of people you want to turn into customers.
While they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, many customers judge a company by how they present themselves on social media. That’s why it’s so important to get your online branding right, from the colours you use to the images you share. Getting your branding right will help raise awareness in your site, increase interest and encourage customers to make a purchase.
AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire and Action
You can increase your chances of making a good impression by following the AIDA principles, a marketing approach that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
The aim here is to grab your audience’s attention quickly with words and imagery that catches their eye and makes them want to find out more. You want them to stop whatever they are doing and pay attention to you and your brand.
Once you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention the next step is maintaining their interest, which is much more difficult because people are usually aware they are being marketed at. A good way to keep their interest is to focus on the benefits of your products.
With desire, you need to convince your audience that they want to know more about your product. They need to feel like what you are offering through your content is perfect for them, and they can’t live without it.
Now, you want your audience to follow through on any call to action, visiting your website for example and making a purchase. You’ll never get 100% of people whose attention you initially attracted to the Action stage but monitor how many you do convert and adapt your approach to see if you can get to a higher conversion rate.
Use AIDA to integrate social media into your overall marketing strategy. There are also additional approaches you can include when using social media that are linked to AIDA. The first is loyalty, sending a thank you message via Facebook, for example, to reduce the likelihood of buyer’s remorse and increase the chances of a customer visiting your store again. The second is advocacy, getting your customers to share details of their purchase and their thoughts on the product.
Focus on Providing Value at Each Stage of The Buying Journey
The buying journey, if done right, can significantly improve your sales. It starts with the idea that people want to buy something, and your product or service offers them the ideal solution. It only works if you’re able to offer value at each stage of their journey.
Providing Information (Raising Awareness Stage)
A buyer’s journey begins with knowing they want to buy a product but wanting to find out more about it before they do. You can help them by providing easy to find information on your products and services or offering tutorials that explain how something works.
Companies often use blog posts to share information. These don’t go for the hard sell but rather aim to engage and entertain and have been shown to generate over 50% more web traffic. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them to promote your products, but you need to do so softly with calls to action if people want to know more. In this way, you add value by giving a potential customer exactly what they are looking for and creating a positive start to your relationship with them.
Researching Businesses (Consideration Stage)
Once they feel armed with enough information, they are ready to decide who to buy from. If they’ve been using your site to research a product, this could well be you, and they won’t look any further. However, they might want to compare prices or bargain hunt first.
You can increase your chances of making a sale by offering the best price, free shipping or a rewards programme. You might also want to point them to product reviews to help them make up their mind. At this point, you want to start engaging directly with your customer, promoting your products and helping turn a lead into a sale by focusing on the added value you can offer such as the quality of your product.
Becoming a Customer (Post-Purchase Stage)
At this point, the customer has decided to buy from you and made a purchase. Now you need to keep building the relationship, letting them know about complimentary products for example. You might also want to think about deals you can offer returning customers, money off for example or reward points. Social media is a really good way to share this information and let customers know about offers quickly.
Using social media can help you build an online community, one where customers can act as advocates and where they benefit by hearing the latest news about your products first and getting access to special value deals.
By focusing on the customer journey at each stage from initial interest through to after-sales, you can build a loyal customer base, one that will buy from you again and again. Making this journey work requires you to focus on each stage and not take any customer for granted. Use metrics, conversion rates for example, or ROI, to understand if you are managing the customer journey well, making changes if needed.
Every business wants to find new customers and grow. Today, social content and social media marketing are a must to make that happen. Social media plays a huge part in promoting and raising awareness of a brand and in engaging with your customers (and potential customers). Getting social media right means understanding your customers, the social media platforms they use, and the messages you want to send.
The best way to do this – possibly the only way – is to create a social media strategy, linked to your wider business objectives. The strategy should have clearly defined aims and include the outcomes you want to achieve. And it should be reviewed regularly to make sure it’s fit for purpose, helping you build your brand and business and providing a return on investment.