4 Strategies to Increase Social Shopping Revenue

Editor’s note: Last week, Adweek’s Social Shopping Trends Webinar highlighted important information for marketers and social teams. The webinar, which Spredfast co-sponsored, featured expert speakers from within top-performing brands and companies: Sucharita Mulpuro, VP, Principal Analyst from Forrester; Kelly Ferraro, Director of Strategy from Spredfast; Brad Spychalski Creative and Brand Strategy from Pinterest; Jaclyn Ruckle, Manager, Social Media from REI; and Lisa Grimm, Associate Director, Social Media from Whole Foods.

Social shopping is new, but it’s moving fast. Spending on paid social is growing almost across the board for retailers, Sucharita said in the webinar, citing current data from Forrester. When it comes to paid social activity on the most popular platforms, many retailers are increasing their spend by up to 50%. We are still in the early days of social shopping, though, Sucharita noted, and a sizable percentage of retailers still don’t allot any of their budget for social spend on the top platforms. However, retailers that are investing in paid social allocate an average of 11% of their marketing budget for social efforts, and they’ll want to make sure it’s used smartly.

While a good number of brands and retailers are adapting to new forms of e-commerce, like social shopping, it isn’t an easy: visual commerce and social shopping aren’t simple to navigate, notes Lisa Grimm, leader of the global social team at Whole Foods. Companies on the forefront of the social shopping trend must clear the way for those that will follow. “Getting all of the moving parts put together in the right way is not an easy feat,” says Grimm.

“Social shopping is bigger than ever, and social media is more influential than ever throughout the customer journey,” says Spredfast’s Ferraro. PwC data (drawn from 23,000 shoppers across five continents) shows that 78% of global purchases were influenced in some way by social media in 2015, which is a year-over-year increase of over 10 percentage points. Brands now must consider how social fits into all aspects of the customer journey, Ferraro says.

And—best of all—data from Forrester shows that consumers actually like using social media to discover new products. Learn the best ways to cultivate a lean, effective, coordinated paid social strategy with advice shared by industry pros during our webinar:

1) Word-of-Mouth Still Matters

Even in the ever-increasing “pay-to-play” social landscape, paid isn’t everything, and word-of-mouth still matters, explains Ferraro. In fact, peer recommendations account for 45% of online sales. Companies would do well to pay attention to what their fans are saying, and make sure potential customers see good word-of-mouth on your behalf. The most important considerations, according to Ferraro:

  • Leverage social to give a megaphone to supporters by sharing positive reviews or authentic fan advocacy in the form of UGC. “If people are raving about you,” Ferraro says, “make them famous.”
  • Provide excellent one-on-one customer service by understanding that every interaction counts, and that your social team must be set up to respond to inquiries and complaints in a timely fashion.
  • Take an omni-channel approach and maintain a presence on as many social platforms as are relevant to ensure your message is heard, and repeated.

2) Keep it Simple

Keep it simple when presenting people with products they might like—product creative doesn’t need to be complicated, says REI’s Ruckle. Whole Foods’ Grimm echos the sentiment: keeping it simple with data is also crucial. When looking at social data, she says, just pick a couple of key points and use them to drive a strategy, rather than trying to look at everything at once.

3) Cross-Channel Storytelling is Critical

Each platform is different, and content must be tailored specifically, but Whole Foods had great success last holiday season by promoting the same story—that Whole Foods offers prepared holiday meals—on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On Whole Food’s Instagram page, vegans reign supreme, so the highlighted prepared meals were primarily vegan and vegetarian, while on Twitter, Whole Foods promoted a coupon for prepared holiday meals because the platform lends itself to news and transactional interactions.

4) Pinterest Now:

Pinterest is compelling for brands and retailers looking to engage with consumers on and off the platform: 55% of people visit Pinterest to shop, and 93% of people say they use Pinterest to plan purchases. Here’s how to take advantage of the best of what Pinterest offers:

  • People go to Pinterest to plan projects, events, and purchases, which allows the platform to be an effective point of entry for consumers to become acquainted with projects.
  • People come to Pinterest in one of three mindsets: Just Looking, Maybe I Could, or I Know What I Want–these map onto the purchase funnel of: awareness, intent, and purchase, respectively.
  • The bookmarking feature shows what users are interested in, which can guide brands and retailers.
  • Rich pins and buyable pins are particularly useful to retailers.

So, when planning paid social content, remember that a simple, clear message often resonates better with audiences, and it’s important to tell your product’s story on each relevant platform, while keeping in mind how the strategy should change from channel to channel. And, people still want to hear recommendations from other people, so make your supporters stars–and make stars your supporters.

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Julia Eddington is a freelance tech and personal finance writer and editor living in New York City.