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What Is The Role Of Social Media In eCommerce?

Social media is a fantastic tool for spreading brand awareness, engaging with your customers and promoting your business – but how does social media work within an eCommerce framework?

Social media sites are now aware of the massive buying power in social media advertising – which is why you can now use social network platforms to not just promote your products but sell them directly, while engaging in useful 1-1 communication with your customers.

In this guide, we’re going to show you a couple of ways you can use your social media presence to build your eCommerce store, increase sales, and provide a comprehensive customer-focused experience. Let’s get started!

Allow in-app purchases

One of the main ways eCommerce stores can use social media is by allowing customers to buy their products directly from their news feeds. Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook now allow users to click through posts on their platforms and buy products directly, either on the platform itself or via a redirection link to the eCommerce store:

Instagram

Instagram launched their in-app shopping feature in 2020, and links products featured in your posts to your own Instagram business page. (You’ll need a Facebook business page to do this.)

Facebook

Launched alongside Instagram Shops in 2020, Facebook Shops allows businesses to create free eCommerce stores on their platform and sell to customers directly. This is a great option if you’re starting out in eCommerce and already have lots of followers on your business’ Facebook page.

Tik Tok

With many eCommerce stores now dedicating product pages to popular ‘Tik Tok’ sensations (see: “Tik Tok made me buy it”), Tik Tok has slowly transformed from a fun video-sharing site to an advertiser’s paradise. In August 2021, Tik Tok partnered with Shopify to allow in-app purchases via certified retailers.

Observe customer trends

Another way to make use of social media is to track and observe what customers are saying about your products online, without having to solicit customer surveys or reviews. For example, you can use Twitter’s search function to see what products or services your customers enjoy the most, and even reference these views when working on improving or adapting your products.  

The great thing about social media is that it allows you to be a fly on the wall; you don’t need to irritate your customers with endless emails asking them for feedback or asking them to leave a review. Just pop your product names into any social media search bar and see what people have to say!

Build brand awareness and identity

Social media is great at breaking down invisible barriers, whether it be between celebrities and their fans, or companies and their customers. Social media allows you to interact socially with a wider commercial audience, and studies show that consumers respond positively to online brand presence. According to one study,  66% of social media users believe that a brands’ presence “adds value” and “[makes] social media richer and more engaging.”

Having a presence on social media – even if you’re not using every post to promote your products – helps establish your brand voice and its values, making it easier for new companies to build memorable brand identities. Brands often use trending topics, celebrity news, and even political news to establish their voice and gain followers through social media memes and camaraderie.

Elevate customer content

Elevating customer voices – aka, sharing your customer’s content –  is another way eCommerce companies can use social media to their advantage. By sharing tagged photos, retweeting positive reviews, and replying personally to positive comments on social media, you’re able to both develop a personal rapport with your existing customers, while also exposing your followers to positive testimonies from buyers. It’s also free advertising – literally.

Being reactive on social media is important: not only will it compel other customers to engage with your online presence, but your followers will also be exposed to regular, real-time positive reviews of your products or services.

… but don’t forget the bigger picture!

While social media marketing is a great way to increase your eCommerce sales and build your brand identity, don’t forget the most important online tool – search engines! Not all your customers will be active on social media, and relying on a social media strategy alone can often mean narrowing down your potential clientele. As you may already know, social media algorithms are designed to encourage people to interact with online content that is similar to what they already consume, so it can be difficult to branch into other target markets.

With a comprehensive SEO eCommerce strategy, you can invest long-term in the visibility of your eCommerce store, and out-rank your competitors without having to meet their advertising budgets.

Article by:

Joshua George is the founder of ClickSlice, an SEO Agency based in London, UK.

He has eight years of experience as an SEO Consultant and was recently hired by the UK government for SEO training. Joshua also owns the best-selling SEO course on Udemy, and has taught SEO to over 100,000 students.

His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, AgencyAnalytics, Wix and lots more other reputable publications.