Your guide to a successful online business!

If you sell products online, you’re probably aware of the increasingly important role that social media plays in boosting brand awareness and customer acquisition. With 93% of customers turning to social media to help make buying decisions and 90% of them saying that they trust product recommendations from their peers – avoiding social media isn’t an option if you want to compete online.

But how exactly can you activate your social media channels to convert fans and followers into customers? In this post we’ll walk you through a few simple ways you can turn your social channels into sales channels without being too pushy and driving customers away.

1. Pick the right social network(s)

If you’re just getting started with social media, don’t go setting up accounts on every platform out there. Spend some time doing your research first to find out where your customers are spending time online. Once you’ve figured out if Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/ or Pinterest best fit your business, set up your accounts. The best approach would be to create accounts on just one or two social channels so you can manage them properly.

Read our post on which social media platform your business should be on to get a better understanding of how the most popular social platforms work and which ones to use so they’re worthwhile for you. In it, you’ll find useful information on how major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn are used, some great examples plus what business goals each platform can help you achieve.

Also, if you’re not very familiar with how social media works in general, check out our guide on how to get started with social media.

2. Create the right kind of content

While you’re looking to turn your fans and followers into customers, avoid sales pitches as they’re a sure-fire way to turn people away. Instead focus on creating and providing useful, share-worthy content that adds value to your audience. Keep the experience social and interactive and use these channels to share news, stories and helpful advice and tips.

Try to find a balance between promotional posts and posts that educate, inform and entertain. Remember that success on social media lies in putting your customers’ needs above your own.

For example:

  • If you sell cosmetics, you can share make-up tips and video tutorials on Facebook.
  • If you sell cupcakes, you can post event images on Instagram and encourage your customers to do so as well.
  • If you’re a painter, you can show off your latest pictures on Pinterest and in doing so attract potential customers to your site.

Let’s take a look at a few real-life examples of sales-focused social media posts.

Asics is doing a great job on Facebook at promoting their running shoes by sharing not only their own content, but also their customer’s content, like in this example:

asics social media

Reviews or posts from satisfied customers are very powerful as your audience is more likely to be open to a product feedback when it comes from a loyal customer. In fact, 88% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Ms. Cupcake is promoting her cupcakes by taking the audience behind the scenes and showing them how the cupcakes are made (and by whom):

ms cupcake social media

This bridal shop shares photos of new wedding dresses that are available to try on in store.

bridal shop social media

While updating customers about new product arrivals is always a good idea, make sure to also include a call to action with the link where they can learn more about the product.

3. Use customer support to drive leads

Social media has opened a new line of communication between brands and customers, and you should use it to its full advantage to drive leads. While there are many brands that highlight repeat customers and excellent reviews, there are also many that shy away from addressing customer complaints and choose to end the conversation when it turns sour, instead of dealing with it.

Think of every interaction with a customer as an opportunity to earn and re-earn trust. In part 3 of this post you can find out more about ways to provide excellent customer support via social media. And remember that direct interaction and great customer support can be extremely powerful at winning repeat and new customers so make the best of it.

4. Monitor your competitors

It doesn’t hurt to cast an eye over what your competitors are up to on social media. Take a closer look at what they’re doing online and let yourself be inspired by good ideas. What’s important, however, is that you then put your own plans into practice.

Read our short guide on how to research your competition with social media to find out how you can spy on your competition to see what social networks they’re using, how they’re presenting their brand, how they’re connecting with their audience, how they’re responding to negative comments and what type of content they’re sharing to engage and to build trust.

5. Try paid ad campaigns

If you have the budget, why not take your social media marketing to the next level with Facebook or Twitter ads? You can link your ads to a product page for conversion. As long as your ads are highly targeted, these paid options can help you to dramatically boost website traffic and hopefully revenue as well.

Need some help getting started with ad campaigns on social media? Check out these two guides:

These comprehensive guides will walk you through all the steps you need to follow to set up a campaign on Twitter or Facebook, including how to measure how effective your ads are.

6. Monitor results

There’s no point in setting up social media accounts if you’re not going to monitor the results and see whether your efforts are paying off. How can you do that? Most social networks like Twitter and Facebook give you access to basic analytics data where you can find some great insights into how well your audience is reacting to your content. This will let you know which type of content they find most interesting so you can then adjust and improve your strategy to boost engagement.

Make sure to read our beginner’s guide to Facebook and Twitter Analytics to learn what information you can access and how to use it to make sure you’re not wasting your time on social media. You can also check out our beginner’s guide to Google Analytics to see how and where to get valuable information on how well you’re performing on social media. Analyse this data constantly and use it to improve your social media strategy.

Wrapping up

When you use social media properly, you’ll not only see an increase in customer engagement but also in leads as a result. The key is to provide real value to your community and if you’re successful at it, that value will come back as direct sales for your business.

Just remember that this takes time but once you build a community that loves and trusts the quality of your business and products, your investment will pay off more than you think.

How are you using social media to generate revenue for your online shop?

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