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E-Commerce Strategy for Brands

The Role of Social Media in E-Commerce

How Social Media Defines Marketing and Sales in E-Commerce

It’s a dream many of us have had before. Maybe you’re walking down the street, or through the halls of your school, or sitting in a restaurant. Everything is serene — in fact, the dream is kind of boring at first.

Then, suddenly, you realize that you are completely naked.

Along with dreams of losing our teeth and our hair falling out, nightmares, where we realize that we are unexpectedly exposed, are common recurring nightmares.

Do these nightmares of hair, teeth, and flesh have anything in common, other than being a special kind of disturbing? Perhaps our sense of vanity is to blame.

Not every degree of vanity is bad, though. It’s a reasonable wish to keep all our teeth intact, and the embarrassment of finding yourself nude in public is as uncomfortable as it is illegal. The fact that these dreams strike a chord of vanity doesn’t make us unreasonable. That pang of mortification we feel when we dream ourselves into any of those circumstances is normal. This healthy sense of vanity is what keeps us wanting to see ourselves at our best — for our sake and that of those around us.

That’s all we need from the psychology of dreams to draw a key comparison to e-commerce. If you work for any brand that sells online, but you don’t have a strategic two-pronged social media strategy, your brand is essentially naked in public. It’s a recurring problem that thousands of brands face, but this time it isn’t a dream.

What are those two prongs of social media, you ask? The role of social media in e-commerce serves:

  1. Social media marketing
  2. And social media selling

If you have one of these figured out but not the other, cue up the nightmares where you lose your teeth or hair in gobs. It is not a good look for your brand.

This is your chance to wake up. Keep reading to learn the two-prong approach to how social media defines e-commerce today.

The Role of Social Media in E-Commerce for Marketing

When you google “social media in e-commerce,” most of the results that pop up are articles on how to use social media for marketing. This is natural because it was the first meeting point of social media and e-commerce.

This is not the only way that e-commerce and social media intersect anymore, but it is still the Champs Elysées of social and e-commerce intersections. Paid ads for products on social media are just one marketing avenue. The others include:

  • Using social media to influence purchase decisions
  • Using social media to reach more consumers
  • Using social media to understand consumers better

Influence on Purchase Decisions

Through customer reviews, influencers, and user-generated content, social media is the most fertile ground to build confidence with consumers. Social media is the first place most consumers go to check out a product or brand before making a purchase.

Just check out how other brands use product data in their social content.

The information shared on social media includes that which a brand buys (like ads, proprietary posts, and influencer content), that which a brand encourages (user interactions with brand content), and that which came about of its own accord (user-generated content).

Your job is to keep a pulse on all the content about your brand so you can adjust your content and sales strategies accordingly.

Social Sharing Reaches More Consumers

Ah, the powerful “share” button. This button has as much impact on the popularity of your post as a few hundred “likes.” Content or products shared will get even more likes and shares exponentially as visibility spiders out to new networks.

Influencer versus user-generated shares offer their own unique benefits. Be sure to study influencer vs. user-generated content.

Understand Consumers Better

Interacting with consumers on social media also helps you understand them better. This is part of a longer-term, nurture-based marketing approach. The deeper you understand their needs, hopes, and wants, the better you can answer them with the perfect products or services.

As you review your social media reporting, ask yourself questions like: what are my followers’ apparent preferences for timing, content structure, or even voice? What are they interacting with most? Who else do they follow? The answers will each provide extraordinary insights to create more effective marketing.

The Role of Social Media in E-Commerce as a Sales Channel

Social selling is what has turned social media into more than just another marketing platform. From Facebook storefronts to in-feed purchases of products on Instagram, social media selling is growing as a highly-profitable landscape for e-commerce brands.

The convenience of social selling is hard to beat. Without even leaving their feeds, social users on Instagram and Pinterest can acquire must-have finds with a tap. Start with these native shopping solutions and keep your eyes peeled for more, with recent partnerships between Snapchat and Shopify, among others, offering exciting promises for the near future.

It’s not just purchases that social selling brings. Post-purchase upsells, resells, cross-sells and customer service also feed into the role of social media in e-commerce as part of the bigger customer lifetime value and satisfaction.

Social Media for Customer Service

Social media is important post-purchase, too.

Specifically, social media is a key channel for customer service inquiries. Social media allows brands to reply quickly to inbound messages on the platforms their customers spend the most time on. Replies sent to a customer’s Messenger inbox or Instagram DMs will get seen almost instantly and foster a one-on-one feel to customer service that consumers are finding increasingly important.

Social Media for Product Testing

Social media is the perfect space for product testing. You even choose the terms that make the most sense for you. A soft launch to your Facebook followers, for instance, will promote a feeling of exclusivity and insider perks while also buying you time to tweak marketing messages before sharing with the general public.

Social media can be used for product testing to build anticipation. If there are limited first-editions available of a product, social platforms are prime real estate to talk about the product and promote user-generated content from those lucky few who already have it.

Social Media for Sales Segmentation

You can also use social media to segment your product launches, marketing, and market research. Even using different social media platforms will help you do that organically since each platform attracts users of different ages, interests, and online tendencies.

Using social media in e-commerce is like remembering to put your clothes on every day. It’s a must, but throwing stuff on without thought makes for its own kind of disaster. You don’t want to get caught in the street starkers, but you also don’t want to get caught wearing your toddler’s onesie.

Get a plan together: start now by choosing the right KPIs. Before you know it, you’ll be watching the traffic in and out from the many avenues of social media and e-commerce, merging together into the Champs Elysées of intersections with your brand situated confidently atop the arch.

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A new tech publication by Start it up (https://medium.com/swlh).

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Alex Borzo

Alex Borzo

A content contributor at Amber Engine, a software company passionate about eCommerce

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