The sudden shift to online shopping due to the global pandemic has seen many brick-and-mortar retailers scrambling to expand their online presence, whether it be ensuring their website is optimized to updating information such as store hours on Google My Business.
In May, Facebook and Instagram announced new shopping solutions for small businesses looking to sell their products and expand their audience – the ideal tool for businesses without a website. Both Facebook and Instagram already supported some e-commerce efforts (i.e., Facebook Marketplace or Instagram checkout), but the latest efforts introduced to these social media platforms will push both further into e-commerce.
The rise of social commerce is unavoidable and has been driven by younger consumers. Generation Z spends 2-3 times more shopping on social media channels like Instagram and Snapchat than the average consumer, while Generation X prefers shopping on Facebook. So how can your business use Facebook and Instagram to market itself and sell its products?
Set Up Your Virtual Storefront
Facebook and Instagram’s latest shopping solutions are making buying and selling online a lot easier, without ever having to leave the social media platforms for a website.
- Facebook Shop and Instagram Shop can be found on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, and there is no cost associated with the feature. Facebook is working with partners including Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics to give small businesses the support they need.
- Choose the products you want to feature from your catalog.
- Establish a design aesthetic for your brand by customizing your shop with a cover image and accent colors on Facebook.
- Users can browse through your collection, save products, and place an order.
- Users can message a business to ask questions, get support, and track deliveries.
- Facebook and Instagram plan to roll out live shopping features, that’ll feature products on live video, and business loyalty programs.
Sephora, the French multinational chain of personal care and beauty stores, is a large, well-known retailer with wide name recognition. However, that did not stop them from setting up a virtual shop on their Instagram page and testing it out. As you can see, after selecting and adding the Biossance oil to my bag, I was directed to proceed to checkout, where I could have entered my credit card information and address. I could have also sent the product to a friend or saved it for later.
Optimize Your Profiles
There are multiple elements that go into creating an attractive social media profile that best represents your brand, attracts followers, and helps you stand out from the competition. A complete social media profile will help you accomplish all of that. Some key elements include:
- Choosing a Hi-Res Images: Show off your brand’s personality by using a high-resolution image, preferably your brand’s logo, that resonates with your audience. The image chosen should be used across all social media platforms to ensure consistency and brand recognition. And don’t miss out on the visibility opportunities a good cover photo provides on Facebook!
- Writing An Attention-Grabbing Bio: While the word count varies between Facebook and Instagram, it should always be your goal to keep the bio short and sweet. Let your audience know what your product, service, or niche is. Your bio is also the ideal place to display branded hashtags, which can be useful for generating engagement and locating user-generated content, and emojis, which humanize your brand.
Engage With Your Audience
The majority of consumers expect a same-day response from brands on social media. In fact, 40 percent of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79 percent expect a response in the first 24 hours. Whether you’re using social listening tools, or you’re monitoring your own social media channels, prioritizing a fast social media response time results in more loyal customers and keeping them from leaving you for competitors. It is crucial to not only reply to positive social media comments, but to also take the time to address negative feedback, concerns, and poor reviews. Negative feedback presents an opportunity to show your business’s dedication to resolving issues and keeping customers satisfied.
Get Creative With Stories
Since its introduction in 2016, Instagram Stories has proven to be one of Facebook’s most successful features to date, with over 500 million people interacting with Stories on a daily basis. Instagram and Facebook Stories are powerful tools for helping your business gather customer insights regarding your product or service, collect data and connect with your audience.
While Facebook Stories currently offers users the ability to conduct a standard poll, Instagram Stories offers a range of features such as conducting polls with the emoji slider, using the question sticker to encourage your audience to share their honest thoughts about your brand, and more. Earlier this year, we saw Facebook testing the option to cross-post Stories to Instagram, instead of just vice-versa. If adopted, this feature could help maximize the views on Stories created, and help gather additional insights on your brand’s product or service.
Invest In Ads
Setting some funds aside for paid social will get you faster and better results than simply replying on an organic social media marketing strategy. Facebook Ads allow marketers to get specific with custom targeting with audience selection tools, enabling them to reach new audiences who could find the ads relevant based on their interests and demographics. If your objective is to increase brand awareness among a target audience, Facebook Ads will work wonders for your business.
While Facebook offers multiple ad formats including photo, a carousel showing multiple images or videos, video, slideshow, and instant experiences, Instagram offers ads as Stories, images and video, carousel, collection ads, and ads in the Explore tab. If you’re planning on using strong and engaging visual content or UGC for ads, Instagram, being such a visual platform, will be the obvious choice. If your content is written, such as blog posts or articles, place your ads on Facebook.
Build Library of User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is any form of content that has been shared by users on social media platforms and repurposed by brands, in place of creating their own assets. Using UGC on your social media platforms is cost-effective, an easy way to create brand desire and loyalty, taps into your audience’s following, and it is a smart method of collecting assets featuring your product and building yourself a content library. These images and videos can be used at a later date on future social media posts promoting your brand, and will be seen as more authentic than an ad or staged picture.
Today’s consumer is used to the convenience and speed of online shopping, and the global pandemic has accelerated the digital shift and widespread adoption of social commerce. Social commerce can drive sales and it’ll continue to be on the rise as social media platforms continue to introduce shoppable capabilities.