Social media is everywhere in Canada in 2020—according to Canadian’s Internet, 61% of Canadians use social media every single day.
To take advantage of all these would-be customers, it’s crucial to have a solid social media strategy—including a knowledge of best practices across multiple social media platforms.
In this article, we’ll explore ten social media best practices for e-commerce businesses and how to incorporate these best practices into your social media feeds.
Here are the top ten ways to reach customers through social media in 2020.
Before you get started on your social media strategy, you need to determine your customers’ wants and needs, as well as their expectations for you as a company.
You can do this by collecting demographic data such as age, location, spending habits, interests, life stages and so on from your current customer base.
From there, you should create customer personas that include examples of their social media behaviour.
For example, if your company is a women’s jewelry company, you could build a profile for a customer who would buy for herself, a customer who would buy a gift for their significant other, like for their wife or daughter, and so on.
In addition to your customers, it’s important to know what your competitors are doing on social media so that you can better engage your customers and produce better content than your competitors!
Start by looking at the kind of posts they’re putting out there across multiple platforms by conducting research on the following questions:
- Which posts are getting the most likes, shares and comments? Which aren’t?
- How are they engaging their audiences on social media? How big is their audience?
- Is there anything users are saying that you want them to be saying or not saying about your business?
Gathering data on your competitors is an essential step of building your social media strategy.
You also need to set the stage for your strategy by evaluating your current presence on social media by conducting a social media audit (unless--gasp!--you’re not on social media at all).
If you are on social media, ask yourself the following questions about your presence:
- What’s working well? What’s not?
- Are you reaching your engagement goals?
- Do you even need some of the accounts you have? (for example, if you have little to no engagement on Twitter despite a pronounced effort, is it worth abandoning it for another platform?)
Setting a benchmark for where you are on your journey to a fantastic social media presence is a crucial step for measuring different successes or failures over time, such as engagement levels or generated sales.
Whatever voice, tone or language that you’re using on your e-commerce site should be consistent across all your social media feeds—with the caveat that you can be a little less formal on social media.
If you don’t have social media brand guidelines clearly defined for your business and for your employees to follow, this guide should be researched and put together so that you and your team have clear terms to stick to.
Some potential considerations for this social media brand guide are:
- Do you use humour in your posts or take more of a serious tone?
- Do you use emojis or none at all?
- Do you talk to customers like they’re your best friend or like a trusted business associate?
- Do you have preferred filters, fonts and/or effects for images and videos?
Creating brand consistency will create a clear picture of who you are as a company and what message you’re trying to send to your customers.
You shouldn’t be blindly throwing social media posts out into the world at any random time.
Figuring out when, where and how much to post can be the most difficult and time-consuming part of your social media strategy requiring lots of trial and error.
Start by choosing the right platform for your brand based on your content and where the demographic base for your customers are.
You can then conduct research on your chosen platforms and the best times and days to post on each social media platform you’ve chosen based on when users are most engaged.
Also, it’s important not to post the same content across all platforms. Tailor each post based on the platform. For example, Instagram posts will be all about the image, whereas Twitter posts will be more conversational.
You can see how all your choices are performing by leveraging social media analytics from each platform and comparing them against your benchmarks or previous posts.
This can make it convenient to manage and prepare your social media posts at your convenience, particularly if ideal post times are outside of your usual business hours.
These measurement tools also have IOS and Android apps for managing social media schedules on the go and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
Also, many of the basic forms of these platforms are available for free if you’re working on a strict budget.
However, if you decide to schedule posts, it’s important that you don’t keep content too static and stay on top of when posts are supposed to go out to avoid any mishaps, like this McDonald’s tweet from 2017 where they had scheduled a "placholder" tweet with a note that they ***** Need copy and link ***** which went live before being updated.
It is far too easy, especially with the help of scheduling tools, to get ahead of yourself and then forget what you had planned to post. World events can happen that can make your planned tweets irrelevant or - worse - offensive.
According to Khoros, 65% of social media users expect brands to respond to their messages. Half of users expect a response within three hours.
Therefore, you need to make sure that you have a dedicated resource ready to respond to customer inquiries during business hours—or even outside of business hours—based on how large your business is, or the kinds of products and services you offer.
You should also be monitoring what customers are saying on social media by searching for your brand, products and relevant keywords.
You can then interact with customers saying positive things and establish relationships with them or address any issues or negative comments that may arise (in a professional way, of course!).
Creating an online community around your brand or products is a great way to develop trust and loyalty with customers as well as tap into a new potential customer base.
Many consumers are averse to being marketed to on social media, so it’s important to talk with your customers and not at them.
For example, if you’re looking to promote a certain product, share how many five-star reviews the product has or some positive comments left on product reviews to help endorse it.
You could also consider creating a blog (such as a style blog for fashion brands or room design tutorials and tips for home decor businesses). You can then share blog posts on social media to create content that has value to your customers, giving them a reason to follow you.
Finally, you could share community posts on your feed such as customers using your product, making sure to like and comment on posts using your desired hashtags.
In any case, you should use CTAs (calls to action) in your posts to convert community members into customers.
Your social media strategy should have specific SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based) about what you want to achieve with social media, such as increasing sales by 5% over three months with traffic generated from Instagram.
You can then use measurement tools and check in regularly to collect KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and see whether you’re on track to meet your goals. Many platforms offer their own analytics for free.
You can also try A/B testing certain posts if you’re unsure of which direction to take, such as using emojis vs. not using them, or creating shorter vs. longer posts on Facebook.
Lastly, using your KPIs, you can determine whether you’re meeting your goals, and if not, figure out whether your efforts need to change or whether your goal needs to be adjusted to something more realistic.
If you’re really struggling with a place to start with your content on social media, start with the rule of thirds, where:
- 1/3 of posts are reposts of influencers or customers showcasing your product;
- 1/3 actively promote products or your business; and
- 1/3 are personal stories or testimonials to establish your brand.
See which posts perform the best based on the three types above and adjust the percentages based on the KPIs that are important to you and that you’ve established in your social media strategy.
With plenty of users shopping online in 2020 and with so many potential customers out there on social media, now is the time to implement these ten social media best practices and get started with your social media strategy.
If you’re looking to integrate your social media into your Shopify e-commerce site in a creative and effective way, Marketplace Solutions offers customized Shopify themes that prominently feature your social media feeds and help you develop the online community around your brand you’ve always wanted.