The following is a guest post by Catalin Zorzini, founder of Ecommerce Platforms, a blog about ecommerce and marketing. Catalin Zorzini likes hot soup and hot jazz. His views do not necessarily reflect those of Northcutt Consulting Group, LLC.
You set up your social media accounts, maybe Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, but it's been a few weeks or even years since you've touched the accounts. This happens far too often with small businesses. The problem is that even when stores implement decent social strategies it's tough to improve sales, or at least track whether sales are occurring through social media.
What does this say? Well, to start, this is talking about the percentage compared to other social networks, and although Facebook still reigns supreme, other sites boast higher order growth (Reddit) and order value (Instagram and Pinterest). Building an ecommerce site with hopes of connecting with customers on social media becomes confusing.
Are you doing something wrong since none of your Facebook followers are turning into buyers? Do you even have any followers? Following traditional social media tactics are hit and miss, so I encourage you to think out of the box. Let's take a look at some ways to really stand out from everyone else who is struggling to grow an online presence with social media.
Take a Picture of a Product Being Made and Connect Directly with the Recipient
Alien Gear Holsters produces custom handgun holsters, all of which look stylish and fit against your hip perfectly. The company has over 500,000 followers on Facebook. Are they able to interact with these followers and get people to comment? You bet.
One of the tactics they use is to take a picture of a holster in the production process. It is typically getting shaved down or bolted together by an individual. The handgun company then posts the picture to Facebook and tags the person who ordered it. This receives thousands of likes and makes that one customer feel wonderful. We often forget that connecting with just one customer can make everyone look at your company and realize that you truly care.
Hold a Scavenger Hunt on Snapchat
Don't forget that multiplatform use is one the rise. In fact, 52 percent of adults now use two or more unique social platforms.
I spoke to a friend recently about utilizing Snapchat in his online store's marketing strategy. He responded by saying that most people use Facebook, so he was sticking with that.
Although I would recommend sticking to just two or three social networks (so you don't stretch yourself too thin,) using an app like Snapchat puts you right in customer pockets and it separates you from other companies who saturate Facebook and Twitter.
Of the few small businesses that utilize Snapchat, many of them create scavenger hunts where an employee takes pictures of funny instances or locations, which eventually leads to a message about a discount or maybe a new product.
The goal is to keep your company in customer minds and prompt them to stick around for the incentive at the end.
Dig on USA combined offline and online platforms when they held a clever scavenger hunt on Snapchat. This occurred during the San Diego Comic-Con and prompted people to search for random items throughout the event.
Play Guessing Games
This social selling tactic gets people just as excited as they would be for a cat video on YouTube. Let's say Charles is one of our followers on Facebook. He sees that our vintage clothing store (his favorite style) posts an image, but it's not quite clear what the image is.
Charles realizes that the photo is a close-up shot of new clothing. Our company asks all of the followers to guess what kind of clothing is in the picture. (Some magazines use to publish these "ultra zoom-in" guessing games, because it's rather tricky to figure them out.)
Ask people to guess what's in the image and reward the winners with a coupon. The coolest part is that everyone wins in the end. Why? Because you reveal a new or cool product that might be on sale.
Another fun guessing game is the old "guess how many things are in the jar" game, as seen with the Queensland Business Group below.
This game brings in loads of comments since the idea is for followers to post how many pieces are in the jar. After that, you give out a prize to the person who is closest. Keep in mind that Facebook has rules on how you can run your promotions (such as contests). A few points to take away are that you can't encourage people to share the post on their own personal timelines (although posting a comment on your particular business/contest post is acceptable) and you must disclose all official rules for the contest. Make sure you read the rules so you don't get in trouble.
Pair Office Pictures with Quotes from Your Employees
The office photo of Jill the receptionist brings up many emotions for your customers. One, they receive an inside look at your business. Two, they see that your company is run by living, breathing people, and not machines.
Try taking this tactic a step further by pairing office pictures with quotes from your employees. Ask your employees to talk about their favorite weekend trips or what sports teams they enjoy. You can even bring your own company into it by asking workers to state their favorite products or why they started working at XYZ Company.
Tweet with Celebrities Who May Have an Interest in Your Products
It's a long shot that a celebrity tweets back to you, but if they do, your follower count and overall exposure shoots through the roof.
Write up a list of some celebrities that relate to your industry (or people who have shown interest in similar products). A sales-y type tweet won't generate a response, but something clever is always intriguing for celebrities.
Keep in mind that paying celebrities to tweet about your company has seen mixed responses. Above you can see that Justin Bieber received plenty of retweets because of his 1800flowers tweet (a tweet he was paid for,) but other celebrities have received backlash for these types of ads.
Think About the Pets
Pets dominate social media. Cats are cute, we get it, but how in the world are you going to incorporate a cute cat or dog pictures into your social strategy? Here's how:
Pets remind people of the simple parts of life--coming home, rolling around on the ground, and having a furry beast rub against your leg. Pets are intimate, so why not make your company more intimate? Bring in your own pets for a photoshoot, and rally up your employees for a pet day.
Take videos and pictures of the cuddly creatures and use them in your social media advertising. The greatest part? No one requires an excuse for you to share pet photos. Put some of your apparel on one of the pets or show a dog tearing into one of your packages (Even Sparky can't wait to get his paws on "insert product here").
Sports Teams (And Sports in General) Make Wonderful Cross Promoters
Is there a local minor league baseball team that everyone in your area follows? Why not ask people to tweet their prediction for the upcoming game? Choose a winner and give out a prize.
You can even just put pictures of yourself wearing a jersey, showing that you're rooting for a certain team. People love talking about sports, so they will either give you a "boo" comment (teasing of course) or cheer on the team with you. This goes for professional and college teams as well. Location doesn't matter!
One of the most popular sports-related tweets came from Oreo, the delicious cookie company. It came right after the Super Bowl XLVII power outage. Brilliance like this only comes around every once in a while, but it's great for inspiration.
Do Something Good for the Community
A picture of your company helping out at the local animal shelter or at a soup kitchen works wonders for social media. Yes, you should always contribute to charity because you actually want to, but the business benefits are there as well.
Run a Reddit Q & A (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit
Reddit is one of the more forgotten social media platforms when it comes to marketing. Did you know that you can search for just about any topic and hold a Q & A? The key is to tell the Redditors that you're a credible source (CEO of Mike's Bike Shop) and just tell people to ask you anything.
The cycling thread on Reddit is fairly large, so I'm sure you would get some people interested in learning about some new bike repair tips or what new technology you're selling. These are called AMAs, or Ask Me Anythings. I will warn you, however, that you need to be prepared to answer very difficult (and sometimes personal) questions on Reddit.
Redditors are often ruthless if you don't answer every question, so take a look at some of the AMAs that went horribly wrong to prepare yourself. For example, Woody Harrelson was promoting his film Rampart when he brushed off all personal questions. The backlash was awful for Harrelson and the movie -- since Redditors deemed him as a diva who was probably letting his PR team answer the questions.
Are you frustrated with trying to convert customers through social media? Let me know if you plan on trying any of these unique tips for your own online store.