Want More Success Using Social Media? 5 Tips for Online Retailers

By Digivate

Image credit: Rodion Kutsaev

By Hayley Watson - Account Manager at Digivate

Social media is fast-paced by nature and platforms change every few months to keep up with user’s expectations and compete with rivals. So what will 2017 bring for social?

Social channels have recently begun to cater to ecommerce sites but in 2017 we predict a greater shift in social media towards serving ecommerce brands, content and their product buying methods.

Indeed, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred for social media users using platforms as a social network, and as a place to shop. Using social media for customer service has already well and truly taken off on Twitter and Facebook, and now brands are looking for new ways to market their products to their huge numbers of loyal followers.

Related Read: How To Use Instagram's Shoppable Photos: A Guide For Online Retailers

But what methods will these ecommerce businesses use to actually sell their products, and how effective will they be? Read on for our top 5 predictions for the ways social media will adapt for ecommerce in 2017.

1. Boosting buy buttons

Social media buy buttons have been around for years now, but 2017 could be make or break time for the troubled feature that has so far failed to show a return on investment.

Brands are tackling the challenges posed by the buttons by trying to improve user experience for shoppers – and one of the emerging ways of doing this is by implementing storytelling techniques to showcase products, rather than just posting images with “buy now”. This is encouraged by new advertising options including Facebook carousel and Instagram shoppable photo tags.

However, unless we see customers embracing the buy button soon, 2017 could be the year brands drop buy buttons altogether, as they shift their focus towards brand loyalty and awareness.

2. Advertising and remarketing on Facebook

Facebook is at the forefront of social media advertising, with a range of new options made available to brands in 2016, including mobile -optimizsed and dynamic product ads, which is set to continue into 2017. A change in algorithm last year also meant that posts by friends were prioritised, rather than by publishers and brands – and as the algorithm continues to update and change, brands are constantly being challenged to find ways to reach audiences through paid advertising.

This push towards paid advertising coincided with new options for Facebook Adverts, including custom audience and remarketing features. And it’s a huge platform for advertisers – with 2 billion searches per day, Facebook is catching up with Google’s lead of 3.5 billion, meaning that Facebook search should now be on every ecommerce brand’s radar this year. 

Alongside these things, Facebook is targeting competitors in another of this year’s biggest trends – which is…

3. Live video

Image Credit: Seth Doyle

Last year the most popular social media platform announced it was going “video first”, pouring investment into its video platform to snatch competition from YouTube. And with 500m people watching videos on the platform every day, it’s no surprise that businesses are already looking for a slice of the pie through advertisement in 2017.

But one of the newest opportunities for brands on the platform is live video – four hours can be streamed at a time on Facebook Live, paving the way for brands to raise awareness by streaming events or other promotional material in real time. Similarly, co-owned Instagram recently launched Instagram Stories, which has already hit 150m daily users. Live video has already been trialled by rivals Periscope and Snapchat, but Facebook and Instagram’s huge user bases present an unparalleled platform for ecommerce advertisement.

It’s set to become popular as engaging with audiences in an immediate, unscripted way is deemed more authentic. It also presents a brand new way for companies to announce breaking news related to their products as it happens, as opposed to static text and images.

4. Engaging audiences

Everybody knows that communication is key for brands looking to engage with their customers on social media, but in the golden age of online customer service this has become even more significant for ecommerce businesses. So this year, we expect to see large brands hiring more in- house social media workers to keep up with the demands of their chatty customers.

But it’s not just replying to queries or complaints – brands need to ensure that they create meaningful engagement between themselves and the customer to get ahead. Keeping audiences engaged can be a challenge, but by creating a memorable exchange you will ensure your account is followed, and your brand is remembered.

Another mode of online communication ecommerce companies should be savvy about in 2017 is chatbots. While they’ve been around for a while, this year they are really expected to take off, with developments in natural language processor technology. Brands are expected to take note of Siri, Alexa, and Google Now to enhance their user experience.

5. Big campaigns

Image Credit: Jakub Gorajek

Think big! With online marketing budgets growing larger and larger, brands have serious money to spend on the opportunities posed by social media. And rather than just focusing on one platform, we expect to see more cross channel marketing in 2017, with brands attempting to catch customers on the social network that suits them the most.

For big budget campaigns to succeed, ecommerce companies will need to stay on top of seasonal trends to be relevant all year round. It’s also important to be reactive – any big news or hilarious memes related to your product should be reflected in your social media posts, before your competitor gets there first.

Most of all, brands will have to think outside the box to catch the attention of customers this year. Incorporating newer interactive technologies such as Snapchat filters or Facebook Live into campaigns will ensure a content hungry audience is kept on their toes, return for more, and even turn into valuable brand ambassadors.

So, 2017 will present another shift in social media, and if brands are willing to innovate and latch on to the new trends, this shift will provide yet more essential digital eCcommerce marketing tactics.

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