How can I use social media to promote my online store?
Social media has arrived. It has long outgrown its younger target audience. True, TikTok is probably used by a similar (or even slightly younger) target audience than the one that used Facebook shortly after its inception. Yet, many middle-aged and older people actively use social media. Thus, the different platforms have become an important aspect for business owners wanting to advertise online.
Sometimes, I have the impression that companies think social media is the solution to all its advertising problems. Let me be clear; it definitely is not. You will not just start using any social media platform and a week later you are sold out. A good social media strategy does require some time. And even more so effort. So, if you desire to use social media as part of your online marketing strategy, please do bring some time and patience. This also applies for other aspects like SEO and SEM. No big changes happen over night. Instead, they require time and a strategy that is constantly refined.
What role does social media have?
Think of social media basically as a trailer/teaser. It gives consumers an idea of your products and brand. You make them curious and let them know you exist. Furthermore, you employ good copy and visuals, thereby establishing your product and brand as desirable. This is basically a task you keep on repeating many times. You just have to find new ways to highlight the desirability of your product. This goal can be achieved by using good rhetoric and enticing visual material (such as good pictures and videos).
Try to come up with interesting content
Sure advertising on social media is tremendously important. But be smart about it. Don’t just tell customers that your product is the best and that you have amazing prices. They have heard that many times before. Instead, ask yourself what kind of content would be interesting for current and future clients alike. Try to give them unique input that they would not be able to get anywhere else. You could share information about your industry or a product that is not easily available. When you work within an industry for a number of years, you will probably have quite some knowledge that the average customer will not have. If you share it with your readers, chances are that they will appreciate it and look at you for inspiration. One prominent example of this is Gary Vaynerchuck. It is always a good idea to not just sell a product, but the lifestyle and information around it. Be passionate about your product and spread that passion. Other people will notice if it’s authentic.
What shall I say?
Social media means communication. Just like in real life, it makes sense to think about what you want to communicate. Many people or companies focus on communicating something that does not make much of a difference or simply serves as self-advertisement. It makes sense to always ask yourself why you should communicate and what you want to communicate. One good approach is to ask yourself what kind of added benefit your readers will get when they read your article. The two most common ones are either entertainment or providing them with knowledge. Entertainment can be humour or something cute/heartwarming. Education can be an aspect of your industry most people do not know. Or it could also be something you have noticed about other people and you are wondering why people might behave that way, even though it might make little to no sense if you think about it critically. One good goal is to post content that either speaks to users in an emotional or in a cognitive way. Ideally, your content manages to satisfy both aspectgs.
How shall I communicate?
There are many ways to communicate. The most common one would probably be the written word; meaning through text. But please keep in mind that humans are visual beings. If you have the chance, please also involve visual means to communicate. The options are plentysome. One example would be a picture. Please do not work with stock images but do use images that are authentic. Way too many people and companies take the easy way and work with mediocre stock images. In addition to pictures, you can also work with infographics. They are a great way to communicate information in a visual and appealing manner. Lastly, video is also a great option to communicate. There is so much you can do with this medium. You can work with an animation. You can film yourself. You can film your clients. Before you start any filming, please do some research. Look at other videos and get an idea of what you like and what you dislike. If you have found a video that you really like, it would also be helpful to understand what you enjoy about that video. This makes it easier fo you to understand what your video ought to look like and communicate. It will also help the person you are briefing with understanding what kind of visual product you would like from him or her.
Which social media platform should I choose?
The answer to this questions depends on who your target audience is. The most common social media platforms in the western hemisphere would be TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. At times, it also makes sense to use multiple platforms. If you decide to do so, please do not post the same content on different platforms. Instead, come up with a plan to serve different target audiences and different platforms with different content. This also gives people a reason to follow you on multiple social media sites.
It can also be a good idea to work with an editorial plan. This is basically a document (like a slide) that entails your posts and what images/videos you will use. Working with an editorial plan makes it much easier to improve your strategy and plan your posts ahead of time.
TikTok for instance is currently used by a younger target audience. Yet, the amount of users has grown tremendously over the last couple years. Its focus clearly lies in sharing videos among a younger audience. Many of those individuals are still in high school or about to start their higher education. Instagram is mostly focussing on people aged 25-35. Most of them have already finished their studies and are starting to earn good money. Instagram is also very visually focussed. However, images seem to still be more important on IG than videos. LinkedIn is mostly used for professional purposes. That does not mean that your content on LinkedIn needs to be boring or stiff. Maybe just worded a bit differently. But it can still revolve around very personal topics. They seem to gather more clicks than many of the self-promotional posts we encounter on said platform. Facebook has developed quite a bit over the last years. Don’t get me wrong; it still has a large user base. However, many of those users tend to be a bit older and quite a few parents and grandparents do have a Facebook account these days. It is a great way to stay in touch with people around the world. Similar facts apply to YouTube. The platform is definitely not the only video platform on existence. But it has been around for quite a while and boasts a very large audience. It is a good idea to incorporate YouTube into your social media strategy and upload your videos onto the platform. Depending on what market you’re operating in, additional social media platforms could be of interest. For Russian speakers that could be VKontakte. If you would like to target many Chinese users, Weibo would very likely be of interest to you.
Organic and paid is a good combination
Certainly, working with organic content is a given. However, it is also a good idea to use the paid advertisement options social media platforms offer. Many platforms boast detailed targeting options. It definitely makes sense to familiarise yourself with those options. When you have content that works really well organically, you can also use paid advertisement to boost a post even further and make it reach more people. Since it already went well organically, you have proof that it speaks to your target audience and engages it. Also, if you sometimes need attention quickly, you can use paid advertisement to reach a larger audience in a fast manner.
Connect social media to your website
Sure, using social media is very important. After all, it has become a mass medium and billions of people around the globe use it. However, you should also have a holistic strategy in place. It’s definitely a good idea to think about how to get users from social media on your website. Most sales probably still happen on your website. It thus makes sense to often work with posts that give users a reason to visit your website and engage with it.
Thinking about the AIDA funnel
The AIDA funnel should always be taken into consideration. Its four letters describe the stage a prospective customer is currently in.
A stands for Attention
I abbreviates Interest
D means Desire
A is Action
As you can tell, some people are not ready to buy a good yet. Rather, they are looking for additional reasons to either buy from you or a competitor. Thus, when you are working on your editorial plan, it makes sense to think about what stage a reader is currently in and how your post might make them move to the next stage. Trust is definitely an important matter. So is the quality of your product. If you find ways to provide both those aspects through your social media marketing, you are on a very good path.
Don’t sell all the time…
Or at least, please do not be so obvious about it. What does that mean? If you just post content about your product and prices all the time, chances are that readers perceive you as spammy. Rather, provide them with content that is engaging and talks about the industry or your company in an interesting and not obviously self-advertising manner. The best sales pitches are those that are barely recognisable as such.
Time is of the essence
Experiment with different times throughout the day. Sometimes, you will find a pattern when users interact with your post. This could be during their lunch break or in the evening after 8 p.m.. In addition, it can also be a good idea to post on different days. Maybe you will discover a certain day and time that works really well for your posts. Doing so will require some patience and analytical skills. But it is definitely doable.
Why not collaborate?
Chances are that other people, companies and influencers work in the same industry, but aren’t necessarily direct competitors. Since you share the same target audience, it might be a good idea to work together. This can entail just sharing posts from one another. But it could also feature you and influencers/folks from other companies in a video you do together. That way, you both get attention and reach a larger target audience. Nothing wrong with helping one another!
While it is very helpful to have working processes in place, you shouldn’t just always rinse and repeat. It’s definitely a good idea to experiment and tweak different factors. This can be the type of content you work with or the topics you cover. It can also be new platforms or new partners you are working with. Just always doing the same thing will mean stagnation at a certain point. So, part of experimenting also means to observe what others do. They can be active in the same industry, but don’t have to. Sometimes you can also learn a few things from other people/companies that are active in an entirely different industry.
We hope you got some useful ideas from our overview. Of course, it would be possible to write about each point in further depth. But our goal wasn’t composing a thesis; instead, we’d like to provide you with some ideas. Best of luck with taking your social media marketing to the next level.