A strong social media presence is essential these days for any kind of business. Some media are more relevant for ecommerce. In this post the focus is on top media that are relevant for digital commerce.

The major characteristic of social media websites is their varied nature. They differ in the audience they reach and the types of content they accept. Instagram, for example, is a great medium for your smartphone photos; Twitter is great for meaningful conversations; Pinterest contains short pins that showcase your expertise; LinkedIn is for heavy stuff of interest to professionals; and Facebook (FB) is for true socializing.

Using these websites for marketing involves:

  • Checking whether you can reach your audience through the medium you plan to use
  • Next checking the kind of content the medium accepts and how to produce such content for your business
  • Finally there is the task of adopting best practices to engage with the audience of each medium.

Considering the extensive range we have to cover under social media marketing, we will use two posts to cover the field.

  • In this post, we focus on creating a presence for your ecommerce brand at top social media platforms. The practices for doing this differ from medium to medium, with varying header and profile image sizes, and other significant differences.
  • In the next post, we will look at leveraging the presence so created to market your e-commerce business

Let us start with Facebook, the top social medium.

Facebook Page for Digital Commerce

With 2.5 billion users, Facebook is the largest among social media. A page on Facebook helps your business to get in front of prospective customers among these billions. Business pages can be created only by individuals with a personal profile at Facebook.

Once you have a personal Facebook profile, you can click the Pages link in the left sidebar to start creating a business page. FB will ask you what type of page you want to create. It can be:

  • A local business at a specific location
  • A company
  • A brand or product
  • A public figure
  • Entertainment
  • Cause or community

Once you have selected the type, you enter relevant details:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Username
  • Category
  • Website address
  • Email
  • About

Include your brand (and location if you are a local business) in the username. Other elements that help you build a distinctive brand image include:

  • Featured (size 820x312px) and profile (180x180px) photos. You can upload a video or slideshow instead of a static image. Use this header to project the value you deliver.
  • A Call to Action (CTA) button that tells the visitor what to do to start things moving. Make it appropriate to your business.
  • Ratings and reviews, which you can choose to show or hide. Showing these can have a definite impact on your business. However, you must have a sound arrangement in place to manage these, including responding to these promptly and dealing with unfavourable reviews
  • Facebook Messenger can also be enabled or disabled. Enabling and managing it can again have a significant impact on the image of your business. The issue is how much time you can spare for managing the visitor contacts involved.
  • Customizing the page layout. By clicking Settings on the page, and then choosing Edit Page, you will be able to do a lot of customization. Use it to create a functional and visual presence that is right for your brand.

Twitter Profile for Ecommerce Business

Twitter is a platform for conversations. Brands are mentioned favourably and unfavourably. Unless you monitor your brand mentions and steer the conversation skilfully, your business could suffer.

Twitter is also a platform for journalists and bloggers looking for worthwhile stories. If something from you catches their fancy, your brand could get some much needed publicity.

Things start on Twitter with a great profile. How do you make it great?

Start with two images, a 1500x1500px image for header and 400x400px logo. Use the header image to tell your story, changing it regularly to tell something fresh: A new product, your stall at a trade show, your team and so on. And use the logo as a distinctive symbol of your business.

Create a 160-characters Twitter bio that clearly communicates the value you deliver and includes relevant keywords and hashtags.

Pin a Tweet to the profile so that it appears at the top. It should be the current featured story with a great visual, a link to relevant website page and a clear call to action.

And do a few things under the Privacy and Safety settings of your profile to improve your visibility and approachability:

  • Uncheck Tweet Privacy
  • Check “Receive Direct Messages from anyone”

LinkedIn for Ecommerce

LinkedIn is ideal for building your personal brand and for networking with decision makers. It also offers the facility to create company pages to build your brand. While networking with decision makers and brand building using company pages could indeed benefit ecommerce ventures, our focus here is on more direct marketing. Hence we are not going deeper into this platform for now.

Pinterest for Shopping Sites

Pinterest has turned out to be a surprise pick for ecommerce marketing. According to one study, it is driving one-third more referral traffic to shopping sites than Facebook. More importantly, Pinterest users say that Pins influence their purchasing decisions significantly.

Pinterest has enabled on-platform purchases; users can click through product pins to the retailer’s website and make purchases. And retailers can upload their entire product catalog to the platform.

Pinterest is also proving great for driving traffic to websites.

In short, Pinterest is a medium that ecommerce businesses cannot ignore. So how do you set up an account there?

  • Create a “business” account at Pinterest by visiting its business registration page. Business accounts get several business-friendly tools not available to personal accounts.
  • Once the account is created, complete your business profile by going to Settings:
    • A profile photo (165x165px): Make it a great image that represents your business. Match the profile images at Twitter, Facebook and other websites to start creating a recognizable image for the business on the web
    • Location details
    • Business type, select from the list provided by Pinterest
    • Business name
    • User name
    • About: Include a short message about your business that explains who you are and what value you deliver. This can be similar to the message you use for your Twitter bio or your Facebook Page’s About section.
    • Website, a link that communicates your domain name, and takes visitors to your website.
  • Claim your website (and social media accounts) by completing a verification process. Once claimed, your name and profile picture will appear on every Pin with your content, whether the content was pinned by you or someone else.
  • Add a Pin It button to your browser by clicking “Add Bookmarklet.” You can now pin images from across the web to your Pinterest account.
  • Start pinning images that cater to the interests of your customers. Group pins with a common theme under meaningfully named “Boards.” Boards can have distinctive display images of 222x150px.

Using reddit for Ecommerce

As discussed in this Bigcommerce article, using Reddit for ecommerce needs extra care and preparation. For example, you have to find and join specific subreddits relevant to your business. Each subreddit can have its own set of rules and you might not be able to post product images. 

We are not discussing Reddit further in this post. It is best discussed in a post of its own.

Instagram for Ecommerce

Instagram, owned by Facebook now, is a must for ecommerce stores:

  • You can post high quality product photos on the image-focused Instagram that could make a visitor eager to learn more
  • If you are in the US (or other approved country) you can tag the photos so that the visitor can go direct to the relevant page to purchase it
  • Tagging is possible only after you have completed certain formalities.
  • Instagram is a great place for happy customers to tell stories about their experience with your product. Such reviews can be highly influential for the purchase decisions of new prospects
  • Instagram offers paid marketing tools, and combined with the great product photos, you can run highly effective campaigns

How do you create an Instagram account? Instagram is primarily a mobile based platform and the best option is to:

  • Download the Instagram app from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android)
  • Once the app is installed, tap to open it
  • Tap “Sign Up With Email or Phone Number (Android) or Create New Account (iPhone)” and enter your email address or phone number (which will require a confirmation code) and tap Next. You can also tap “Log in with Facebook” to sign up with your Facebook account.

To create an account from your computer:

  • Go to instagram.com
  • Click Sign up, enter your email address, create a username and password or click Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account

To update your profile information, including your username and email address:

  • Go to your profile
  • Tap Edit Profile
  • You can upload a profile image of 110x110px
  • Type in your information and tap Done (Android or iOS) or Submit (computer and mobile browser).

As a mobile-focused platform, you are expected to post to Instagram from your phone. There are workarounds that will enable you to post (better quality) photos from your computer. Photos are best at 1080x1080px.

Snapchat for Ecommerce Marketing

Snapping involves creating a photo (1080x1920px) or short video using the Capture button. 

  • Snaps disappear after these are viewed
  • Snaps for a day can be combined to create a continuous narrative story
  • A Discover screen allows users to view stories from friends and from top content makers
  • Live Stories allow them to view events they are interested in.

If you are targeting 13 to 24 year olds in the US, Snapchat is a great medium to reach them. On an average, snapchatters spend 30 minutes daily on the app, and create 3 billion snaps a day.

To advertise on Snapchat, you need an account there.

  • Go to ads.snapchat.com
  • Click Sign Up
  • Enter your name and email address; these are what will be displayed against your business
  • Enter a username and password, and your birthday
  • Download the Snapchat app to your phone and complete a verification process

You are now ready to access Snapchat Ads Manager using your username and password, and start advertising.

You can also start the whole process by downloading the Snapchat app to your Android or iOS, and completing the Sign Up process there.

Building Social Media Presence: Summary

In this post, our focus was on creating a bare presence on top social media websites. In the next post, we will discuss the best practices applicable to each medium to enhance the visibility of your ecommerce business and reach varied groups of prospects.

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