Social media is a powerful tool for e-commerce brands. Not only does it provide a more efficient way to sell products, it also builds community by allowing brands to engage with consumers directly.
This may not be new information to many organizations who already have a significant presence on social media. But are they using it to its full potential?
In this article we explore 6 ways brands are currently leveraging social media to increase e-commerce sales. Let’s get started!
UGC has been proven to help e-commerce brands acquire new customers, drive loyalty and increase revenue. It’s like word-of-mouth marketing in that way — consumers find it more trustworthy than branded content.
According to recent research, nearly 80% of consumers said UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, making it 8.7x more impactful than influencer content and 6.6x more influential than branded content.
For this reason, many brands supplement glossy product photos with images and videos created by their customers. This is a much more creative and realistic way of showcasing a product’s quality, value, reliability and the benefits it offers the user.
Not only does this help drive sales, but it’s also a great way of building brand awareness and engagement. Sharing customers’ content on social media shows how much you value them and allows them to participate in your brand’s growth. This kind of brand interaction is the cornerstone of engaged online communities.
One e-commerce brand that’s no stranger to using UGC to drive sales and build community is West Elm.
Every other Instagram post interiors brand West Elm shares is UGC. This is a strategy the brand’s been using for years, and it works very well. As far back as 2016, they reported that click-through rates for Facebook ads using UGC were 2.6x better than regular ads.
Promoting UGC is in line with West Elm’s mission to help people express their personal style. And what better way to do that than showcase their customer’s content (and unique home interiors) across their social media channels?
For many brands, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising campaigns isn’t an option. Fortunately, this isn’t the only way to make an impact.
You might’ve seen the likes of Chipotle partner with Shawn Mendes and Levi’s collaborate with Jaden Smith — just two examples of high profile influencer marketing. But even smaller brands with more modest budgets can get in on the action. There’s a huge array of nano (1k-10k followers) and micro (10k-100k) influencers to work with as well as macro (100k-1m followers) and mega (1m+ followers).
So, why does influencer marketing work so well for e-commerce?
Well, much like UGC, influencer content is generally more trusted by consumers than branded content. This is particularly true for influencers with a specific niche and a highly engaged audience. When they talk about a product on social media, their followers trust that they actually use and enjoy that product. This kind of authenticity is a huge win for e-commerce brands, as it heavily influences purchasing decisions and increases conversions.
The other major benefit of working with influencers is that many are excellent content creators. They’re skilled photographers, editors, art directors, etc. and know what type of content will resonate best with their audience. This is a huge advantage for e-commerce brands. When an influencer blends your product in with their usual content, it seamlessly wins the trust of their followers.
But working with influencers can be a difficult process. Without the right software in place, sourcing, negotiating, contracting, managing, approving content and so on, can take up a huge amount of time.
Some brands are wary of influencer marketing because the various steps involved (contracting, management, approvals, payment, and so on) can seem overwhelming. But that doesn’t have to be the case. With a Digital Asset Management (DAM) platform, the entire influencer partnership process can be streamlined, facilitating smart contracting and payments based on content performance.
The best type of content to reach and engage people is video.
Just look at the popularity of TikTok and the continued rise of YouTube over the last few years. People want to consume video content and that’s great news for e-commerce brands. High quality video is easier than ever to make and it’s one of the best ways to increase a brand’s traffic, engagement and conversions.
Here are three key elements to great e-commerce video content:
To capture the attention of an easily distracted audience, make sure your video is 30 seconds or less in length. That way you’ll deliver your key message and call-to-action before a user swipes away. You should think about creating a short snippet of your video, or transforming your video into a snackable GIF ready for your social media platforms.
The best videos don’t just show a product — they tell a story. Contextualize your product by showing how it fits into — and improves — your ideal customer’s life.
You want potential customers to feel as if you truly understand them. The best way to do that is to create video that feels native to the platform it's on. For example, an overly stylised, highly polished video isn’t going to perform as well on TikTok as a simple video made on a smartphone. This is why UGC performs as well as it does — because it's content made by everyday customers. That kind of authenticity builds trust better than owned content.
So, which brands are excelling at e-commerce social media video? Let’s take a look at two.
Beauty brands are the undisputed pros at video content and Then I Met You is no exception. They create short and snappy unboxing videos, product demos, and Q&As with skincare experts like Caroline Hirons. They also leverage influencer marketing in their video content, as well as other elements of the brand (not just the products) that resonate with customers, like books and coffee.
Floral e-commerce brand Bloom & Wild aren’t afraid to experiment with video. Browse through their Instagram feed and you’ll find ‘how to’ video guides, stylised bouquets, interviews with influencers, ASMR unboxing videos and product announcements. Every video has a juicy hook at the beginning and a clear narrative that keeps viewers watching until the end.
What do big-name brands like Coca Cola, Nike and McDonald’s have in common?
They provide a great user experience to hundreds of millions of people through a multi-channel marketing strategy. They understand that many customers switch between a variety of channels during the day. In the morning they check their Instagram feed. While commuting they’ll listen to a podcast. Once at work they’re consumed by emails. And as the day goes on they’ll use many others including LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube.
This is a huge opportunity for e-commerce brands. A recent survey found that 47% of shoppers who engage with retailers across 10 or more channels make purchases from their favorite retailer's website at least once a week, compared to just 21% for those who engage across one to four channels.
More sales is the biggest benefit of a multi-channel marketing strategy. But so too is increased brand credibility, increased reach and lower competition.
Seeing the same brand pop up across various channels builds trust and familiarity with your audience — particularly if UGC and/or customer testimonials are an important part of your content strategy.
More marketing channels means more opportunity to be discovered by customers who are at different stages of their customer journey. And it means overcoming challenges like people taking social media ‘breaks’ and an Inbox Zero approach — both very real consequences of living in the digital age.
By identifying what channels your competitors aren’t present on (or where the competition isn’t as fierce) enables e-commerce brands to capture the undivided attention of their target audience.
With so many benefits, why aren’t more e-commerce brands making the most of a multi-channel marketing strategy?
Besides limited budgets, one of the biggest challenges is maintaining a consistent image and deploying optimized assets across a variety of marketing channels quickly.
Distributing these visuals in hundreds of variations over physical and digital channels requires robust software that doesn’t compromise the user experience or infringe copyright.
With A DAM solution like Wedia, e-commerce brands can streamline the production, management, control and delivery of rich media at scale, significantly reducing the time it takes to get content to market. This is done by centralizing assets, facilitating collaboration, and automating time-consuming tasks like cropping hundreds of variations of the same asset.
For example, you can quickly crop images to the right dimensions for different social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You just need to select from a number of sizes and formats: landscape, portrait, square, posts, ads, story - you name it.
By 2025, social commerce is estimated to become a $1.2 trillion global market, accounting for 16.7% of total e-commerce spend. It’s a huge opportunity for brands big and small. When paired with a strong social media strategy, social commerce can boost community, strengthen customer loyalty and increase sales.
Currently, e-commerce brands can leverage social commerce in a few different ways:
The most popular channels to build a social commerce strategy are TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
Let’s take a look at some brands making the most of social commerce.
Bakery e-commerce sensation Milk Bar utilizes Instagram to sell cakes, cookies, pies, and ice cream. Before the pandemic, 75% of its revenue came from physical stores. Now, e-commerce is a massive revenue driver for the brand.
Click into Milk Bar’s Instagram shop and you can browse their famous Milk Bar Pie, birthday cakes, cookie tins and ice cream. In one of their recent shoppable Reels they show their audience how to make an Apple Cider Donut Cake and encourage people to purchase their own at the link in bio.
Cosmetic brand Clinique was one of the first to experiment with live shopping on Instagram. This began in 2021 with a 20-minute live stream to promote its popular Black Honey lipstick. The live, created in partnership with Instagram, included conversations and demonstrations of the product, with a call-to-action to purchase an exclusive seven-piece kit.
According to Instagram, 85% of kit sales came via Instagram and Facebook with a 7x faster product launch activation (three days compared to an average of three weeks).
In January 2022, Ulta Beauty and MAC Cosmetics became the first two beauty companies to launch shoppable AR lenses on Snapchat’s updated platform. These filters allow users to ‘try on’ virtual makeup looks and purchase products directly through the platform. During its initial roll-out, Ulta Beauty generated $6 million in sales and more than 30 million product try-ons over a two-week period.
Sofa-in-a-box company Snug generated most of its 2021 $41.4 million revenue through social media. An Instagram live event hosted with comedian Katherine Ryan in November 2021 saw a 450% uplift in sales.
But Instagram isn’t the only social media platform Snug uses to drive e-commerce sales. Over on Pinterest, Snug is a ‘Verified Merchant’ and reaches more than 9 million people each month. Its boards are categorized by highly searchable terms like ‘Sofas For Small Spaces’ and ‘Spring Home Decor’.
Analyzing your social media efforts is essential to improving ROI and increasing e-commerce sales. That’s why 72% of business executives are currently using social media insights to inform their company’s business decisions.
But there’s a difference between tracking vanity metrics such as likes and follows, and metrics like sales and engagement. The former looks good, but it’s not enough on its own. That’s why setting SMART goals and analyzing the data to see what’s working — and what isn’t — is so important.
For example, your goal might be to increase sales on Instagram by 10% over the next 3 months. Or the goal might be related to a specific campaign like ‘increase sales of puppy collars by 25% over Black Friday weekend’. Once you’ve set your goals, you can create a strategy to help you achieve them — and you can monitor your analytics to tweak your strategy (if needed) as you go.
A social media analytics platform helps you measure the performance of content and identify which assets are generating significant e-commerce sales. You can also understand your competitor’s performance to easily benchmark it against your own.
With this information, you won’t be guessing why certain assets are or aren’t working. You’ll have the data to make informed, strategic decisions and closely monitor the ROI of e-commerce activations.
Access advanced social media analytics and increase e-commerce sales with Iconosquare. Sign up for a 14-day free trial here!
A DAM platform helps brands create consistent, engaging and personalized customer experiences across all digital channels, at scale. This is particularly important in the case of e-commerce, where consumers expect to see at least 8 product images per purchase.
For brands to meet this demand, they must provide an ever-growing number of digital assets in hundreds of variations. Wedia makes this possible by centralizing content and automating distribution, improving the efficiency of an e-commerce business and streamlining the costs associated with content multiplication.
Ready to increase e-commerce sales? Book a free demo to discover how Wedia’s DAM solution helps businesses maximize conversions by providing customers an exceptional e-commerce experience.