Understand how ecommerce trends will shape the future web
It’s happening. The web is more personal and the user is more engaged than ever in buying decisions. More and more shopping is happening on social networks, directly from cellphones. Influencer marketing is shaping consumer behaviour and buying trends. User generated content is building trust for brands and companies. Chatbots go mainstream, boosting user engagement, customer support, service and sales. Messenger apps are significant channels of communication in social commerce.
The customer is no longer spending time at your ecommerce site or retail store – he’s on his favorite social media network and you’ve got to catch him there with social media marketing and social selling. Paid ads and sales calls are no longer effective. Social media is the space where interactive communication influences buying decisions. Referral marketing, where word-of-mouth recommendations from the buyer’s circle are trusted beyond paid ads, works powerfully in this scenario. Social commerce (also called social shopping) makes it possible to buy a product from a third party company from within the native social media experience itself.
Source: Super Office Social Selling model
According to a report by Flurry, the average U.S. consumer spends about five hours a day on mobile devices, and about a third of that time is specifically dedicated to social media. Source: Flurry
In the Flurry report, shopping apps grew 31% in time spent on mobile devices, making it easier and quicker for shoppers to buy online, within the ambit of their favorite social media network, with the result that many retail stores negatively felt the real-world impact of social commerce – often localized and personalized to the customer’s preferences. A Shop Now button lets the buyer make a purchase while she’s in the social media environment itself.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing or SMM, is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals. Source: Wordstream
Social selling can be described as the process of using a social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and finally, achieve your sales goals. Source: LinkedIn
Key social media statistics 2017
Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform, with 79% of American internet users.
Instagram receives the silver medal with 32% of users, Pinterest coming in a close third with 31%, and LinkedIn and Twitter at 29% and 24% respectively.
How to tailor your social media marketing and selling strategy to best reach your sales goals?
1. Know your audience.
Social media analytics and stats tell you a lot about your target audiences. Each social media platform has its main supporters, generally speaking – like YouTube for a youthful audience, Facebook for a large and diverse audience, Instagram for teens and college grads, Pinterest for women and Linked-in for professionals. Pinpoint which audiences are the ones to talk to for your brand. College grads, opinion-makers, or entrepreneurs? Gen Z (those who grew up alongside ecommerce and social media) or millenials? They think and act quite differently. Gen Z is 22 years old or younger and is the next commercial powerhouse. They multi-multi-task, expose different aspects of themselves on multiple social media, and you can engage with them through micro-interactions. Millennials grew up with the recession and worked to get where they are. Know your audience/s and shape your social media plans accordingly.
2. Make waves with influencer marketing
People who create high-impact conversations with your audience about your brand, instead of you directly advertising your brand to your audience, are called influencers. Unlike celebrities, influencers can be anyone and anywhere – a photographer on Instagram, an entrepreneur with rich business insights to share on LinkedIn, or a carpenter who can fix common problems who posts on YouTube. Their following on social media makes them influential. They can influence your target audience into trying your brand. Customers find them more genuine and convincing than celebrities who are paid to endorse a brand on an ad campaign.
Influencer marketing is reaping big returns for many marketers on social media through user engagement, brand exposure, social shares, and product sales.
Micro-influencers have a significant social media following of anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 and provide an opportunity for user engagement in niche markets and the power to market and sell brands. Micro-influencers are not celebrities but people who the customer can easily relate to and engage with, and the cost of producing content with them is naturally much lower than working with celebrities. Micro-influencers build trust through a close relationship with their followers.
Fashion and lifestyle micro-influencers used the hashtag #itsbanana and seasonal and campaign specific hashtags #brmakeit matter, #brmoves you to successfully create user engagement and promote the Banana Republic brand on Instagram, says Mediakix.
This Instagram campaign for orangetheory works so well because it uses personal testimonials that convince more users to try the TransformationTuesday promise.
Macro influencers have massive followings, from over 100,000 on Instagram and over 250,000 likes on Facebook, running into the millions. They have a greater reach and visibility than micro-influencers as they can appeal to a large and diverse audience and can create a unique personality for your brand.
In the H&M example below, the company decided to use prominent celebrities with engaged audiences rather than mega-influencers. H&M let the influencers create content aligned to their interests and personalities, so that their messages rang true to their audiences for the success of the brand. The top comment on Tyler Posey’s Facebook post was, “Weird thing is this isn’t Tyler acting for an advertisement, it’s just him being himself.” This comment received 1,562 likes, and is a testimony to the authenticity of H&M’s campaign.
In a humorous sponsored video, Tyler Posey rocks out too hard while getting dressed, causing a fashion emergency that sends him running to H&M. His posts were the most successful of the campaign, garnering an impressive 25% engagement rate on Instagram and a 14% engagement rate across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Watch Tyler on Video here
3. Content marketing
Customer engagement trends include user generated content, targeted to your audience, mobile-ready content, livestream video, social-wise/network-savvy content, messaging apps and chatbots that communicate with customers and drive sales.
User generated content scores highly
Whether by everyday people like the mom-next-door sharing her love for art and craft on Pinterest, or by the teen on YouTube singing his first hit song, or by several people worldwide sharing their unique pictures on Instagram to create a story for a brand, or by an adventurous trekker sharing off-beat trails and the gear you need to get there on Facebook, or by a celebrity businessman sharing the secrets of his success on LinkedIn, user generated content is influencing people’s thinking, making connections with a brand, and so prompting their buying decisions without being as obvious as
an ad. User engagement creates momentum and buzz around the brand. Shares and likes on social media focus attention on your brand and lead to retail sales as well.
The Lokai bracelet has become a world-famous accessory thanks to the brand’s inspiring message of positivity, dedication to exploration, and commitment to helping a variety of causes. Instagram has connected with Lokai’s fanbase all over the world to create user-generated content that’s genuine and unique.
Targeted content gets results
Target your content to your audience, pick your network, and focus your message accordingly. Whether the format is video, slideshare, image or storytelling text with images, longform or shortform content, the choice is dictated by your branding and sales goals, the budget, the audience and the medium. Generating leads and sales conversions is the aim. Optimize your social media budget by creating specific content aimed at niche markets. Facebook is the largest social media platform with the widest reach but you could reach niche markets with less social media spend, using other social media networks like Linked-in for professionals and business contacts. You may decide to use a cross-platform strategy but change your presentation to suit the medium.
Create social-wise content that generates sales
Facebook has the widest reach and people spend more time on Facebook. Make use of Facebook’s 15 types of ads to send different messages. Facebook Messenger has social selling features that connect with and sell to customers. Well-known brands have used Facebook Messenger bots to interact personally with customers for a unique, personalized experience in a private space. You can also run a fully integrated responsive Facebook store from your Facebook Page.
YouTube – Create short videos for short attention spans for a youthful, visually-oriented target audience. Optimize your posts for mobile and quickly tell a story. YouTube is quickly replacing cable TV.
Twitter – Make them short, snappy posts. Give your posts clever twists when there are product updates or promotions that customers follow regularly. This way Twitter posts don’t get repetitive and boring – they’re more likely to get noticed and shared.
LinkedIn is a platform where professionals meet professionals – decision-makers, leaders, opinion-makers. Here’s where qualified B2B and B2C connections are made. Valuable and sharable longform content, videos and slideshares by influencers (micro and macro) generates trusted leads for social media marketing and social selling.More than 1 million LinkedIn users have published content on LinkedIn. Source: The LinkedIn Blog. Influencers who have published content on LinkedIn include Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Wozniak, and Gretchen Rubin.
Instagram – Express your message visually. Let users create Instagram Stories to effectively convey and share your product message. Reach teenagers, college grads and business people with Instagram ads. Instagrammers act on Instagram ads that work to drive traffic and sales.
Madewell made full use of the 15-second video limit in Instagram Stories ads to fill it with examples of holiday gift shopping made fun – along with calls to action. Video animation, music pairing and simplicity made this Stories ad effective.
Source: Sprout Social
Pinterest is five times better at driving in-store sales than any other social media brand. If your target market is women between 18-45 years, Pinterest is the best social media channel for you. Get their attention with engaging, quality images and optimized descriptions. Well-chosen descriptive words at the bottom of your pins will bring customers to your door.
Other social media trends that savvy marketers should keep track of are:
Messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, KakaoTalk will become significant communication tools.
Livestream Video is changing the way users are interacting with social video. They are now part of the conversation as they can interact and comment on it live. Livestream has six times the user engagement of regular video.
Voice Search and AI will change the way users find brands and discover content.
Chatbots go mainstream
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a service that helps a business get more agile and responsive. Chatbots can sometimes be powered by rules (these are limited in nature) and sometimes by artificial intelligence – these offer loads of business possibilities and opportunities. Chatbots based on artificial intelligence use deep learning of neural networks to understand consumer behavior and come up with better solutions each time the AI faces the same problem or query from users. Source: Chatbots Magazine
A chatbot can have a conversation with you just like a real human being.
Chatbots can be functional, fun and friendly and you interact with them through a chat interface like a messaging app that helps a customer find and choose a product on a website, answer support queries or even offer life advice.
You can use a chatbot to send a message and order food at a restaurant… no more waiting in queues! The chatbot tells you when your order will be ready and you simply go and pick it up. Chatbots can pick out groceries for you to buy, schedule your business meetings, pick out news that you find interesting, be your friend, keep you company when you have trouble going to sleep, and more.
Chatbots can even be customized to a famous character, such as the Miss Piggy chatbot. Chatting with Miss Piggy on Facebook Messenger, takes you on to her famous Muppets Show.
Imperson has launched a chatbot platform to create your own chatbot character. Source: Martech Today
Chatbots can remain interactive and “always on”, minimizing human input. Chatbots answer customer problems and provide real-time solutions. So a customer calling in the middle of the night can find out the availability of a certain item or when it will be in stock. Customers love this responsiveness. Chatbots, designed to automatically discern the reason for your call and automatically respond to it, are engaging them, generating sales leads and driving sales traffic. Chatbots are ideal to speed up customer service and support for B2B and B2C products and services, especially since customers prefer social media for support.
Business insight and opportunity
A chatbot can integrate your digital world into one digital space. With smart auto discovery by chatbots pulling and collating data from various social media and digital sources such as email and social media, comes greater business insight and opportunity.
Want to get more brand awareness? Sell more products? Stay competitive?
Want to do all this without traditional ad spend and sales calls which are proving ineffective?
Reach people who will buy from you, where and when they’re interested. Reach them with messages that matter to them. Reach them when they’re awake and clicking, searching for a product, asking queries, even when you’re asleep or out and about. (Responsive chatbots will do the talking.) Select the right influencers who speak their language and fit into their lifestyle, persuading them with ease with a product message that’s believable. Let your customers spread the word about your brand. It works much more powerfully than any paid endorsement from a publicly known figure.
To achieve your ecommerce goals with social media marketing and social selling, keep these key trends in mind:
Content is king – content marketing is the name of the game in social media marketing and social selling. Select the medium and create high-quality, authentic content that appeals to our audience.
Mobile-ready content – social media content has to be accessible on mobile devices in a few clicks.
Influencer marketing by people whose influence is measured by their fan following on social media is creating content that engages customers, builds trust, creates brand value and drives sales.
User-generated content by customers, influencers, employees is more authentic, more believable than paid or sponsored advertising.
Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence interact with customers through messenger apps to make businesses more agile and responsive. They provide real-time responses to customer queries, boost user engagement, direct traffic and drive sales.
Livestream video generates six times the user engagement as regular video.
Messaging apps will become significant communication tools.
Voice search and AI (artificial intelligence) will change the way users find brands and discover content.