Selling Directly through Social Media.
There are a lot of reasons for your business to establish a presence on a variety of social media sites, but at the end of the day, you’re looking for customers and sales. To encourage those sales numbers, look to what other clever marketers are doing, namely selling products directly on social media. While the ability to sell directly is still a rather new phenomenon, there’s currently a way to really promote your products, and encourage those sales numbers to grow, on all the major sites.
Advertising on the social media behemoth has boomed since last year, and Mark Zuckerberg’s team of minions is about to make advertising even more lucrative with a ‘buy’ button as part of their ads. This feature was announced this past July and is still in the process of being rolled out, but when it is available, your new customers will be able to literally purchase your products without ever going to your website. They’ll be within Facebook when they – securely – input their credit card information.
Although Facebook is still testing this enhanced advertising capability, chances are they’ll make it work. Be one of the first companies in on this action, so customers will not only like your page when they see your ad in their Facebook feed, but also hit ‘buy.’
The 140-character social media site is even more on top of the game when it comes to selling directly. Not only are they rolling out a ‘buy’ button, but they also recently started working on functionality, so people can add products to their Amazon cart with a single tweet.
As for the ‘buy’ button, it was announced in early September 2014, and the functionality, currently, is only available for select Twitter accounts. It’s largely geared toward making purchases easier on mobile devices, but it can technically work on any Internet-connected device. The way it works is actually quite simple: Users click a buy button from within a tweet, and then they’re taken to a form to fill out payment and shipping info – all over a secure encrypted connection
Not only is this functionality going to be great for sales, it’s also a great way to stir interest in a product available for a limited time. For example, Beartooth – a band – will be rolling out a ‘buy’ button soon, and so, on September 17, they tweeted out: “Tomorrow you’ll be able to buy an exclusive new shirt directly from us only on Twitter! You can’t get it anywhere else so pay attention ;)”
This ‘buy’ button functionality is currently available for ‘brands’ as varied as Demi Lovato to Home Depot.
Since Facebook owns Instagram, it’s only a matter of time before the photo social media site somehow incorporates a buy button as well. Until then, engagement is huge on the site, and as such, it can be a great sales channel for your business. In addition to showcasing photos of your products, many brands also use hashtags – like #shoes – so their potential customers can easily find their products.
Another way to “sell” on Instagram is to work with other popular Instagrammars who have enormous followings and can “advertise” your products for you. Many will often post a photo of your products for a fee, or you can send them one for free under the understanding that they will review it. Yumbox did this, and they saw a huge influx in their followers and customer base.
Yet another way to make Instagram work as a sales channel is to showcase limited-time only products, like the vintage clothing store Fox & Fawn did. When they post unique clothing items, they “sell” when a customer claims it in the comments section. They then call into the store to finalize their purchase with a credit card.
The online scrapbook is the perfect place to showcase your products and funnel buyers directly to the product page where they can make a purchase. The key here, though, is to make sure you’re using a business page, rather than a personal page; that way you can track which pins get the most engagement and clicks.
To encourage sales of your products, create boards according to a theme, like kitchen gadgets versus kitchen towels. Holiday boards are also a great way to be timely. For example, Debehams has a board named “Gifts he’ll love on Father’s Day.” Christmas and Thanksgiving boards are also, naturally, popular too.
Speaking of popularity, there’s a reason that bestselling lists work to generate sales. Create a board of your “Most Popular Items,” and make sure every photo links to a product page.
Selling directly on social media sites is only going to get easier as time goes on, but now is the time to start with it so you’re at the forefront. At the same time, be sure that this sort of functionality will work for you. Selling directly tends to work well for certain types of products, particularly ones that interest a wide range of products and interest – like food, clothing, interior decorations and travel – rather than super niche environmental monitoring products. As with any marketing effort on social media, test it out and then assess, and keep at it, because constantly refining your marketing strategy is key.
Photo: Gayle Nicholson