It goes without saying that social media is the primary way people connect online these days. To give you an idea, there are 1.9 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 1 billion on WhatsApp, and 700 million on Instagram.
Social media now goes beyond just liking pictures and updating your relationship status; it is now a fast-growing market place for online shopping. In fact, one-third of online shoppers now look to social media to help them find and buy items, giving stiff competition to a business’s own website.
Social media sales is an ultra-personalized, quick and easy way for your business to tap into wider audiences. It can be a huge sales machine for giant online companies, or even for getting side business ideas off the ground. It’s important that your ecommerce hosting site can easily integrate these various channels for a streamlined checkout experience for your customer.
With an easily-customizable ecommerce platform like Lemonstand, the options for integration with different online channels are many. Each channel offers its own unique set of benefits, so determine which channels would work best for your eCommerce business. Here are six to consider.
1. Product Pins on Pinterest
Ever since Time magazine listed Pinterest as one of the “50 Best Websites of 2011,” it has been steadily growing in popularity. Marketing Week ranked Pinterest as the number four channel for social media sales. With about 150 million users, the “social catalog” has become a hub for creative projects, dream closets, and designer home inspiration, making it an ideal marketplace for clothing, beauty items, and home décor.
Shoppers are willing to buy mid-to-higher priced items on the site (Pinterest says the sweet spot is between $40 to $170), and it boasts the largest average order size of any social media selling market, beating out Amazon and Facebook.
Users click embedded links on product pins which direct them to an ecommerce site, after which they can easily add the item to a cart and check out. That said, it is important to link your Pinterest images to the appropriate product pages where users actually purchase the product, use high-quality imaging and enticing copy for these pins, as well as stating the price in order to avoid needless bounce.
Pinterest makes it easy to take the information and artwork directly from your website (Product pins look for specific open graph meta tags and microformat data in the HTML) and build a bridge to your boards without being dependent on the coding framework, eCommerce platform, or shopping cart software.
Whether you want to start a new clothing line, get affiliate commissions in a saturated marketplace, or are simply wondering how to create some brand awareness, product pins on Pinterest can be an influential factor in boosting revenue.
2. Sales Chatbots
Kik, which started as a messaging app for teens and millennials, has now evolved and added the option for sales chatbots that create personalized shopping experiences for users. With about 300 million users world-wide (and the vast majority between the ages of 14 to 20), Kik is an effective channel to reach a younger audience. However, there are some sales restrictions for Kik, due to the average age of the audience. Also, no item can be over $200.
Selling through chatbots is a fairly new phenomenon, so there is not much research on its long-term success. However, chatbots do create significantly higher engagement and click rates than marketing emails, so it is a channel your business should certainly consider.
Chatbots are a great way to pick up on consumer habits and gear messaging to specific preferences. Beauty brand Sephora has a chatbot on Kik that recommends products to individual visitors. Users who engage are asked for more information about their interests, such as the makeup they typically use, and are shown products accordingly.
You can even use a chatbot development platform to create your own customized chatbot to run on top of Facebook Messenger (more on this later), Slack, WeChat, Telegram, and a host of other platforms.
3. Poshmark Shops
Poshmark is a unique social media network that revolves around personalized shopping experiences. Users can follow their favorite apparel brands, and are matched up with other shoppers who have the same tastes in fashion.
Since this is a niche network focused on fashion, the items available are limited to clothes and accessories. But with a revenue of $100 million in sales this year, Poshmark boasts an impressive hold on the social retail market. Shoppers that use Poshmark are found to be fiercely loyal to the site – customers spend an average of 25 minutes browsing the app every day!
The majority of the product lines are from independent sellers, and much of the apparel is used, although brand new items can be sold as well. However, this also means there’s more authentic content that is created by stylists and small businesses – something that changes the game in the fashion industry, considering the fact that brands with user-generated content have 50% higher click rates and up to five times higher ROIs per ad than traditional brands.
Be aware that Poshmark takes a 20% cut of every item sold, so using it as a primary sales channel may not work for many businesses. However, it is a highly effective platform to gain followers and brand recognition that could mean loyal customers down the road. By connecting with leading names and companies, your business can run Instagram-like influencer marketing campaigns to increase sales.
4. BuzzFeed Sponsored Content
While it is not necessarily categorized as a social media site, Buzzfeed does produce highly-shared content and they are quite active on social media. Over a third of their 250 million daily visits come directly from social media sites, such as Facebook links or YouTube videos. One content category the site releases regularly are purchase suggestions, ranging from home décor to clothing, to gift ideas for any occasion.
Buzzfeed partners with all kinds of ecommerce sites to promote products. Online businesses can work together with Buzzfeed writers to create content pieces that market their products to a highly-engaged audience. One of the greatest benefits Buzzfeed offers is adjustable commission fees, making it possible for businesses of any size to sell through their channel.
5. Visual Feed on Wish
Boasting an impressive $400 billion in sales their first year of business, the Wish marketplace offers incredibly low prices on millions of items, placing them as a direct competitor with giants like Walmart and Alibaba. In fact, they now claim to be the sixth largest ecommerce company, valued more than Macy’s, JC Penny and Sears put together.
Wish is a great channel for businesses that offer lower-priced (50 to 80% lower than retail) items and high-volume inventory. Wish displays how many of its 300 million claimed customers have bought items in the past – some items have even reached six figures! Before you begin working with this channel, be sure that your company can keep up with this high-level of demand.
6. Facebook Messenger Popups
We know that Facebook is already a powerful marketing channel for eCommerce sales, but brands are falling head over heels in love with chatbots on Facebook Messenger, which help them get customers from awareness to purchase in one quick conversation.
The typical Messenger sales app pops up automatically when a customer visits the business’s Facebook page and acts like a customer service (or sales) rep. Customers can engage and ask questions, evaluate their options, and complete a transaction quickly and easily.
Facebook Messenger has shown great promise as a lucrative social media channel, with many companies experiencing measurable growth in sales directly linked to their messenger capabilities. Even though selling through this channel will require some knowledge with sales bots and programming for customization, it is quite simple to integrate them into your business’ current Facebook page.
Over to You
Using social media as an added marketing avenue for your business will help you increase your audience reach, enagement and ultimately your sales. It is a great platform to get word about your product out there, with help from immersive virtual reality, live stream videos, relevant subliminal messages, or direct messages to targeted groups. Technology is making it easier and easier to sell on multiple digital channels with minimal operational variation. All you have to do is decide which channels to target to what extent. Good luck!