If you run an ecommerce business, you’re probably well aware of the important role social media plays in online shopping. As consumers make buying decisions based on social media, developing a social media strategy to fit a digitally-friendly sales model has never been more important. As social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter transform from casual social platforms to full-scale sales channels, they’re driving a large sum of revenue for ecommerce brands.
Now more than ever, consumers expect a streamlined ecommerce process, and they’re willing to pay for it. As Oracle CEO Mark Hurd states, “86 percent of today’s consumers are willing to spend more on a better consumer experience.” Consumers demand a simple and convenient experience when shopping online, so it’s no wonder that many are turning to their favorite social platforms for shopping purposes. With the ease of customer experience that it provides, avoiding social media simply isn’t an option in today’s digitally-connected society.
The ability to send traffic from social media posts and advertisements has allowed businesses to match consumers with the products and services they sell, quickly moving them through the sales funnel. Social media strategy has allowed e-tailers to better connect with new and current consumers through innovative tactics. Noelle Sadler, VP of Marketing at Lulus, has found that social media allows the brand to “experiment with new ways to inspire followers to shop, from creating unique outfits in which every item is available for purchase, to showcasing user-generated content, to giving shoppers real-life ideas for items they purchase from Lulus.” The company attributes over 1,200 orders and 100K online sessions to Instagram alone.
The popularity of Instagram, especially as an ecommerce platform, is growing every day. Instagram recently reported that they have more than 500 million active profile pages, and over 80 percent of users follow at least one business account. It’s no exaggeration to say that Instagram has changed the way that we shop—scrolling through a news feed is practically the updated version of window shopping. Instagram’s latest features, in particular, allow millions of retailers worldwide the opportunity to offer their products via their Instagram account, gather feedback, acquire customers and draw them directly to their website to make a purchase. It’s clear that the dependability of Instagram for ecommerce is becoming a driving force in the retail sphere, and it’s essential that brands learn to adapt their strategies to collaborate with this trend.
Understanding the relationship between ecommerce and Instagram is an essential component of competing in today’s online marketplace. With constant changes in technology and digital marketing trends, attracting customers to your site from a wide array of social channels is much easier said than done. Developing an Instagram strategy that supports your ecommerce site can be a complex task, but we’ve broken it down into three simple steps for your business to implement.
Creating a Strategy
Before considering any specific social media tactics, it’s necessary to consider your brand’s overarching social media strategy. Business growth on Instagram takes much more than publishing attractive images—it’s the product of thoughtful strategy, a well-defined identity, and innovative marketing. Achieving sustained success requires a long-term outlook on user demographics and preferences, content creation, and business objectives.
Start by outlining specific and measurable goals that can be used to determine your success on social media. Consider the amount of traffic, fans, followers, and likes you’re hoping to achieve on the platform, as well as the ratio of audience growth or engagement to sales. Setting benchmarks of what success looks like to your brand will be useful in tracking sales growth and development over time.
When developing a social strategy, especially on Instagram, it’s important to factor in customer data. For business accounts, Instagram supplies a wide array of demographic information and key performance indicators for each unique post. These given analytics can help you and your business understand which type of content performs best and when users engage with the content the most.
Before outlining your Instagram strategy, review past performance to see what was most effective, and inject those qualities in new initiatives moving forward. Social media marketing is all about delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. Assessing your account’s demographic information is the best way to ensure that you’re reaching your target audience.
Once you’ve created the foundation of your Instagram strategy, it’s time to get creative. There are many different routes to take to enforce online sales, but it’s important to use a bit of strategic thinking to determine the method that works best for your business.
Influencer marketing consists of much more than today’s biggest celebrities posing with your product. For one, influencers can come from a variety of backgrounds and industries and can have a wide range of followers. In fact, you don’t need to find influencers with millions of followers—studies have shown that engagement peaks at just 1,000 followers. Launching a campaign with a micro-influencer (those with 1,000-10,000 followers) can be more effective for your brand and drive a greater return on investment. Though connecting with “mega” influencers may create higher engagement levels, collaborations with micro-influencers have shown greater sales results. Despite having a smaller following, micro-influencers often have a better relationship with their followers and are typically more invested in their craft.
In some cases, a micro-influencer can even be an enthusiastic follower. Looking into your brand’s current Instagram followers can bring attention to passionate supporters who would be more than willing to campaign for you. Sharing user-generated content, or “re-gramming,” is a growing trend on Instagram; in fact, 27 percent of businesses have a strategy in place for this content. By utilizing customer advocacy, brands can connect with smaller communities more effectively. Being mentioned or having content shared by a brand is usually a fun and exciting experience for consumers, and many consumers are twice as likely to share user-generated content with friends and family.
The best part of influencer marketing and user-generated content is that it builds excitement around and engagement with your brand. It allows your brand to spark conversation and even create a community within your social network. When consumers feel more connected and personally attached to a brand, they’re more likely to make a purchase. Incorporating customers into your marketing strategy is a fun and unique way to drive business growth.
Advertising on Instagram isn’t a new or surprising marketing tactic, but if it’s something your business has yet to explore or execute effectively, it’s definitely something to consider. Instagram offers five different advertising formats: Photos, videos, carousels, story ads and slideshow ads. Each of these is seamlessly integrated into the user’s interface for a smooth experience.
Instagram advertisements offer a significant advantage to ecommerce sellers, as they enable the business to link to their page strategically in the post. A convenient “Shop Now” button appears at the bottom of an advertisement that can redirect users to a specific product or home page. Furthermore, over 75 percent of Instagram users take action, such as visiting the website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post.
Instagram advertisements also provide a simple solution for targeted campaigns. When creating new advertisements on the platform, Instagram allows you to tailor the audience based on location, age, gender, language and connection. Taking the time to carefully select your core audience means you can save money by reaching your target customers more efficiently. Opting to target as many people as possible may actually be ineffective, since it’s unlikely that every audience member will be interested. Be sure to test your audience breakdown on a trial-and-error basis to determine its efficacy.
Instagram’s newest shoppable posts feature is perhaps the most effective social sales method for ecommerce sites. When a user clicks on a shoppable post, they are instantly able to see the name and price of a product; if they decide to click on the tag, the user will be brought to a more detailed page featuring specific product details, similar items and other shoppable posts from the brand. Selecting “Shop Now” from the product details view links directly to the business’s website, bringing them to the exact page of the product of interest. Businesses can connect to a Facebook product catalog, which can then be uploaded to the Instagram page. From there, the process of tagging products is relatively identical to tagging people.
Instagram describes their newest feature as a less transactional, more actionable method for businesses to connect with consumers. It provides customers with a virtual storefront and amplifies the sense of discovery for Instagram users. The shopping feature has given brands the capability to hone in on the potential of their Instagram users by enacting a targeted call-to-action on each post. With easy access to product and pricing details, the online shopping process has never been more simplified.
After setting your Instagram marketing strategy into play, make sure to consistently evaluate it, and keep it updated. With new trends and technology constantly on the rise, they’re sure to make an impact on the entire space of social platforms. What’s successful for your business one month from now may no longer be effective six months from now. A successful marketing strategy can quickly respond to change and adapt to a dynamic environment. Sustained success on Instagram is determined by businesses who can establish a strategic plan for the future and shape trends to achieve their long-term mission.