The marketing and sales potential of social media is vast. It offers brands countless opportunities to encourage their audience to like, share or comment on posts, boosting visibility and building reputation. And beyond simply publishing content, social media allows you to interact with your customers, answer queries, and build a community of loyal customers.
92% of B2C marketers use Facebook in their marketing efforts, making it the first choice for social platforms. The multi-media options available make it attractive from a marketing perspective - images, videos, slideshows or blog posts with links, among others.
When it comes to gathering customer data on your target audience, social media once again provides a wealth of opportunity. As users choose to follow your brand account, you’re immediately awarded with a host of qualified leads who consent to receiving marketing updates on that platform.
You can identify your target demographic and easily discover your customers’ likes, interests and links to other similar brands. With the demise of third-party cookies and the need for alternative data sources, the power of social media is only going to increase.
Selling on social media
Since brands are already fully immersed in social media, it’s no surprise that the next step is to enable direct purchasing on the platforms through integrated ecommerce stores.
As a merchant, you have the opportunity to guide the customer journey from discovery to checkout in one seamless process. Customers can browse your products without having to leave the site, a solution that removes potential barriers and increases conversion rates. For example if they are browsing social media using an app, they can continue to shop within the app, rather than switching to a browser.
Since customers are already accustomed to interacting with their favourite brands on social media, it seems a natural progression for them to purchase directly from these sites too.
Some platforms have been forerunners in introducing store integration, whilst others are yet to roll it out. But one thing is for sure – this is a trend that will continue to expand.
Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and Magento already offer fully integrated Facebook stores for merchants. The Facebook extension allows merchants to create a customised Facebook store page with the same look and feel of their own store. Product details, images and inventory are automatically synced to the merchant’s main store to streamline store management.
Customers can browse and purchase products on the Facebook store itself, with the “buy now” button taking them directly to the merchant’s payment page. This streamlined purchasing process minimises the risk of cart abandonment.
Instagram is also supported by the main ecommerce platforms to offer a similarly streamlined shopping experience. On Instagram you can incorporate product tags into your posts or stories which will take the customer directly from the product advert to the purchasing page. The interactive element to this format keeps the shopping experience fun and fresh for customers.
Whilst YouTube is not yet ecommerce compatible, Shopify is reportedly working with Google on an integration that would allow direct selling through YouTube. Watch this space!
Similarly Twitter has confirmed it’s working on an ecommerce integration that would see product names and prices displayed in a tweet. It is also testing a new “Shop” button to accompany the tweets.
From discovery to purchase
With purchasing now added to the list of customer touchpoints, your social media presence will become more important than ever. Juggling everything from content creation to sales to customer support across multiple channels needs clear strategic oversight. Social media marketing campaigns need to tie seamlessly into the rest of your sales funnel.
A survey by Sprout Social found that the most effective way for a brand to prompt sales on social media is to be responsive (according to 48% of respondents), whilst offering promotions was the second most highly rated (46%). Providing educational (42%) interesting (38%) and funny (36%) content is also a prime way to encourage sales from your social media audience.
The future of sales
Introducing the final purchase stage of the customer journey onto social media is the last piece of the puzzle. With every aspect of the marketing and sales process now in one place, social media is likely to be a key area of investment for many brands in 2022 and beyond.