6 Easy Ways to Crowd Source E-commerce Customers on Social Media
You may be tired of sharing updates, scrolling past cute cat posts and watching your Mom’s Farmville updates fly by your Facebook feed, but one thing is for certain; no matter how you feel about social, your e-commerce success and growth depends on crowd sourcing customers on popular social networks.
Here are some tips, links and insights to help get you started.
1. Start by Telling Your Family and Friends
The first community you can start building right away, is networking through your family and friends.
Do you have a few friends who have a completely INSANE amount of Facebook friends? Don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable about asking them for help promoting your store. In fact, you can even sweeten the deal and encourage them to share your store or products weekly on their own social media channels.
Give them a special ‘family and friends’ discount on your store items for sharing your shop on their feed weekly. Not daily (remember to give them some instructions to avoid complaints).
Since everyone loves to shop online and e-commerce is a fascinating to most consumers, working your personal network to help you get off the ground and rolling with as many organic followers as possible, is a great strategy that works.
2. Blog… Blog… Blog
Your customers could choose to buy similar products from any number of online stores, including the standard traditional big box retailers like Walmart, Amazon or Target. But there is something special that independent e-commerce shops have, that the retail giants don’t really have; culture and personality.
Consumers like to affiliate personally with the brands and businesses that they buy from. One of the most important things you can do is share practical tips, gift giving recommendations (holiday wish lists) and other personalized content on your blog.
Blog content should be a mix of suggestions and information that visitors can use to address a need or personal interest that they have. You will also want to include reviews of featured products (particularly if you have ordered them for yourself). Get creative with your posts to keep them entertaining, and periodically promotional (without being too advertorial or spammy).
Example: E-commerce Store for Cosmetic Products
- Make-up tutorials
- Articles on seasonal cosmetic trends, colors and techniques
- New product announcements.
- Photo contests (get your customers to help you promote your business by sharing pictures to qualify for a prize pack monthly). It works for Ipsy, and it can work for you too.
- Special discounted product bundle announcement (limited time offers).
- Celebrity styles for inspiration (or ‘what not to wear’ polls and discussions). Remember to ask your customers to weigh in with a comment on your blog to stimulate conversations and social sharing.
Example: E-commerce Store for Kitchen Gadgets and Cookware
- Awesome recipe ideas (that’s a no-brainer).
- Video recipe tutorials (think Tasty!).
- Cleaning and cookware maintenance tips.
- Kitchen organization tips.
- Tools that are friendly and easy to use for kids, or seniors.
Remember to mix your content marketing matrix so that your blog stays interesting. As you increase the volume of your blog articles, you will have more branded content to share on your social media that will divert traffic from social, back to your store.
You know, where you can make them an offer (or two) that they can’t refuse.
3. Keep Social Media Sharing Consistent
Here’s one of the things that we see all the time and it’s a major sales killer; e-commerce shop owners who create multiple accounts on every social network and then allow them to fall into ghost-town status. That’s the kiss of death for any online retailer and we’ll explain why.
One of the most reliable social proof measures that online shoppers use to validate the trustworthiness of a seller, is their activity on social media. You don’t have to have millions of followers on your branded Facebook or Twitter accounts to make a good impression. You do have to have a consistent schedule of fresh content (and some remarketed evergreen content).
What happens when a consumer gets excited about buying some products from your shop, and then takes the next step to connect for incentives or contests on Facebook? If they see a lot of rich content and engagement, they will trust you and your store. If the see an abandoned page that you haven’t updated in six months? There’s no way they are gong to trust you with their credit card for an online transaction. Trust us, we see this every day.
If you don’t have the time or the creativity to write your own social media posts, outsource it to a freelance virtual assistant or independent social media service provider. It matters.
4. Pay-Per-Click Advertising
One of the first benchmarks you should set for your business Facebook page, is to reach a legitimacy level of followers. What does that look like? At least 1000 to 2000 subscribers to your Facebook page. What it does is demonstrate to prospective customers that you have a growing business that other shoppers are interested in. Use a combination of a special launch promotion and sponsored advertising (videos with royalty free music produce the highest ROI for businesses).
We know as a new e-commerce business owner that you may be tempted to buy followers. Don’t do that. We know it’s a cheap and quick way to scale up the perception of popularity on Facebook (Twitter or Instagram) but it violates the TOS (terms of service) for each social network. In fact, it can get your page suspended temporarily or permanently.
The second reason that you don’t want to buy followers is that it can be really obvious to identify businesses that have done it. For instance, if you are a gourmet cooking spice and gadget shop located in the United States, but all your followers appear to be overseas accounts, that’s a dead give away. It discredits your brand, and negates the value of posting on social, if you have amassed a huge following of people who are never going to comment, engage or buy your products.
Resistance is not futile. Keep your community management strategy above board, to grow your sales.
5. Pinterest EVERTHING You Sell in Your Shop
We’re going to impress you with a few statistics that will help demonstrate why marketing on Pinterest is an essential weekly exercise for successful e-commerce business owners.
- 200 million active monthly users.
- 80% of users access the site and products on mobile.
- 40% active user increase from 2017 to 2018.
- 66% of women aged 25-54 (power buyers) use it monthly.
- 1 out of every 2 Pinterest users has purchased a product they saw on the site.
Source: Web July 2018: Pinterest.com
One of the reasons that many e-commerce businesses don’t utilize Pinterest to it’s potential, is that the image sizes are a bit of a pain. While they are optimized for viewing, shopping and sharing, they are a unique size compared to images uploaded for other social networks.
The good news is that in the past two years, as Pinterest has continued to develop into its own monolithic shopping community, software that is easy to use is available to create amazing professional quality graphics to help your products stand out.
Here are some great software providers that allow you to create a customized image (even if you don’t have any Photoshop skills) and then quickly convert that single image into the optimized size for each social media network.
Grab that traffic on Pinterest with colorful and professional image posts and link those buyers directly to your e-commerce shop. It’s worth the effort, and you will see results if you pound out your products consistently on Pinterest.
Watch for some very friendly updates and redesign changes from Pinterest in 2018, and make sure you set up your account as a Pinterest Business user (commercial account) for sponsored advertising tools and insights.
6. Monthly Promotions and Contests
Selling… selling … selling. Did you know that the average consumer is bombarded by up to 5,000 unique pieces of advertising, banners, emails, text marketing and printed direct mail offers on a daily basis? Wow, right? But with a little creativity, you can still promote your brand while making it fun and rewarding for your customers, with contests and special offers every month.
What do effective e-commerce and social media offers look like?
- Contributor challenges (user generated photos or comments)
- New product name contest. As you are creating new product names while customizing the descriptions for products from AliExpress on your shop, why not ask your customers (every now and then) for a little help? If they win the contest, they get the product for free. Now THAT is pretty exciting for online shoppers.
- Leave a review and enter to win a product bundle. That strategy works to quickly gather positive reviews from recent customers, that you can add to your store.
Unboxing is still pretty cool. What is it about watching someone open a generic cardboard box or package they received, that’s so fascinating? We’re still not sure. But we know that when brands run campaigns and promotions that encourage their customers to share an unboxing video, that user generated content (UGC) triggers FOMO (fear of missing out) and spikes new customer interest and sales.
Give them a reason to join your social media channels and stay connected, where they can learn more about your products (and be tempted to buy them). Monthly contests are fun, and a great way to retain past customers and attract new shoppers.
Stay creative, respond to your customers on social media and keep growing your drop shipping business revenue.