Getting the word out about your store takes constant work and often it’ll feel like an uphill battle, especially if you’re just starting out. It’ll take time and tests to pinpoint the right marketing strategy that works for you and trends change quickly in the world of social media, so it’s important to be ready to adapt.
To get started, this week’s Printful Resolution Series covers an overview of social media and goes over some basic marketing ideas for your ecommerce store.
When it comes to social media marketing, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Focus on select social media platforms where you can post quality content that will reach your target audience. There’s no point in spending time and resources on a particular platform if your customers aren’t there.
Before you sign up for every social media channel available, research where your target audience is spending their time.
Follow your competition. Who are they following? Who is following them? Examining a direct competitor’s customer base gives you a good idea of who you should be targeting. And chances are good that you would also perform well on platforms where they’re seeing engagement.
Analyze your buyer personas (covered in last week’s post). When you’ve figured out who your likely customers are, do some research on which social media platforms they’re using. Some platforms are particularly popular with specific demographics.
Ask your customers. Find the right moment in the buyer experience to send out an email or survey to ask on which social network it’s best to connect. If you want to be more indirect, ask them where they heard about you.
Where are your customers talking? Us Google Alerts or Mention to keep tabs on your industry keywords or your competitors. Set up an Alert to receive notifications whenever your competitor is mentioned, and pay attention to which platforms come up the most.
Pro tip: There’s a difference between users and active users. Just because a lot of your customers are on one social media platform doesn’t mean they’re actively using it. For example, according to The Next Web, between 5.5% and 11.2% of Facebook accounts are fake.
Google Alerts track mentions of your brand and industry news
Once you’ve narrowed down which social media platforms get the most engagement from your audience, it’s time to think of a strategy. What kind of content do you want to post? How will you engage with followers? How frequently will you post?
Each platform has its nuances and strengths. However, there are some best practices that apply to the main platforms and should be taken into account across the board.
Consistency. When you sign up with a social media platform, keep your posts and tone consistent. Customers will get used to your voice and schedule, so keep it predictable for them.
Engagement times. Figure out which times of day get the most engagement. You want to post at an optimal time that gets the most eyeballs.
Insight tools. Some platforms have tools that help you understand how your profile and posts are performing (Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, etc.). Use them to help optimize your content and timing. You can use third-party social media management tools to get better insights.
Your profile page. Make sure your “about me” description is accurate and consistent across all platforms. Where possible, include a link to your store.
Profile and header photo. Upload profile and header photos that are consistent with your brand and make sure they adhere to each platform’s dimensions.
There are tons of social media platforms to choose from and these are some of the more common ones, not an exhaustive list. It’s OK to stray away from the major sites and focus more on niche communities. Again, it depends on your target audience and where they hang out.
This is the one platform that every business should be using and many already are – Facebook boasts 40 million active small business pages. With 63% of Facebook users engaging with the site on a daily basis, there’s plenty of room for you to interact.
1. Facebook is a key place for people to search for your business, so make sure your page looks awesome and your posts are interesting. Link to your website in the “about” section, encourage customers to leave reviews, and add a call to action button at the top of your page (eg. “Shop Now”).
2. Creating the ideal Facebook post is a challenge. Typically posts with photos generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than text-only posts, and the optimal word length is 40 characters. This makes for a great way to share photos of your products with a short introductory blurb.
3. Organic (unpaid) Facebook posts don’t get as much reach as many businesses would like. So it’s important to figure out what time works best and which posts get the most engagement for your network. Generally, engagement is highest on Thursdays and Fridays and in the early afternoon.
Pro tip: The most useful part about Facebook is the unique data it collects about its users. Businesses can use this data to create Facebook Ads with the most possible engagement. This is a paid service, so it might not be something you want to invest in right away.
Nosto to create Facebook retargeting ads
With its 140-character limit and quick pace, Twitter is the platform to engage in conversation with your followers. 60% of its 200 million active users login on mobile at least once a month and most people use it on the go. The main thing to remember about Twitter is that it’s a fast-paced platform. Your Tweets will be seen on your follower’s feeds, but only for a moment before someone else Tweets something.
1. Tweets with images get more engagement than text-only tweets. 5x more engagement, to be precise. The optimal word count is between 70 and 100 characters, or “medium length.”
2. Use hashtags (the # symbol) to create more reach for your posts. When people search for that hashtag, your post will appear on that list. Tweets with hashtags get twice as much engagement as Tweets without hashtags. Search for hashtags that are trending, and incorporate them in your Tweets (this tip also applies to Facebook, Instagram, and all other platforms that use hashtags).
3. Twitter is mostly used on the go, like during commutes or breaks between meetings. Optimal post times would be during typical rush-hour times, during lunch breaks, and on weekends.
Twubs to discover and follow popular hashtags
Content with visuals gets the most shares, so a platform that focuses on photos is bound to be popular, right? Correct! Instagram engagement is typically 58 times higher than Facebook.
1. The biggest downside to Instagram is you can only include outward links in your bio, not in your regular photos and posts. So this means you’ll have to get creative with engaging customers and sending them to your store.
2. This is the place to post photos of your products, but don’t post regular white-background product shots. This is where you get creative. Post photos of your products in a real-world setting, or post outfit inspirations.
3. Use filters to make your photos look more professional and visually appealing, but beware of which filters are more popular. Filters that emphasize warmth typically see more engagement (think Valencia or Mayfair).
Read More: Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags
To learn more about selling on Instagram, watch this video
2 million people pin products per day, and 93% of people use it to plan their purchases. Pinterest is powerful in driving sales and it’s growing in popularity. Its male audience has doubled from 2013 to 2014, so you can reach a bigger demographic.
1. Add a Pin button to your products so that Pinterest users can easily pin your products to their boards. Make sure it automatically pulls a quality image and a description between 200-300 characters.
2. When creating a board for your business, don’t just pin product photos with a white background. Like Instagram, visuals are key here. Images generally perform better when they’re lighter, taller, and don’t include any people.
3. Don’t only pin your own products – create curated boards with stuff your audience will like. Definitely create boards with your stuff, but create other boards that are going well with your store’s style and brand. Tip: think seasonally, like a board for spring fashion tips when the weather starts getting warmer.
The realm of marketing is vast, and it goes well beyond social media. There is a lot to absorb, and for newbies to the ecommerce market, we suggest using as many resources as you can to learn more. Read up on blogs, listen to podcasts, and do your own experiments to stay current and figure out what works for your store. Start with these tips:
The most direct way to reach your customers is through email, and sky’s the limit to what you can send – from special deals to abandoned cart reminders. Whatever the topic, make sure you send emails your customers will actually want to open by writing killer subject lines. This is tough to master, but it’s critical. Nobody wants to open an email with a boring subject line. Run A/B tests to see what works best and make sure that titles are short enough that they can be read in full on mobile.
Remember that you’re not the only one vying for the attention of your customers. They likely get tons of other emails from companies hoping for their business. You need to send valuable emails – no spam. If your customers trust you and know they’ll get some value out of your emails, they’re more likely to open them.
Promoting contests on social media helps spread the word about your brand. Create a promotion that involves people sharing a particular hashtag, or tagging friends. As an example, create Valentine’s Day contest where if you share your promotion with a friend you love, you’re both entered to win a discount code or some free stuff. You want something that’s easy to share, with a prize that customers will love.
Consumers are more likely to trust other consumers more than they trust brands. While word-of-mouth recommendations are the most effective, adding testimonials or reviews to your store and social media sites can also be effective. Facebook pages now lets customers leave comments with a 5-star rating system. Encourage your customers to share their good experiences and post photos of your products to your social media pages.
None of these efforts make a difference if you don’t know how you’re performing. Set some benchmarks and monitor the effectiveness of your posts, emails, and contests. It’ll take time to figure out your niche and what works, so don’t get discouraged. Keep experimenting.
Nora has been part of the Printful team since 2015. She has spent the last several years writing content, coordinating communications projects, and helping customers learn about ecommerce. Now as Printful's Brand Manager, she gets to use her experience and knowledge in new and challenging ways.