The marriage between e-commerce and social media is a powerful strategy that allows consumers to discover and patronize brands and products through social-media content. Here are four social media tools and strategies you can put into action to drive more sales for your e-commerce business.

Shoppable products

The list of the ways brands, brand ambassadors, influencers, and other creators can drive product sales is growing. In recent years, business pages could tag products in Facebook and Instagram posts and stories, allowing customers to tap a link for a product they were interested and follow it to the online store to buy it. Today, consumers don't even need to leave a social-media app in order to make a product purchase. 

Facebook recently introduced Shops--available on both Facebook and Instagram--where users can discover businesses and shop for products without ever leaving the app. It was initially rolled out to a select group but is now available to any eligible business, and has added new features including page design options, messaging capabilities, and new insights to help businesses measure results.

Livestream commerce

Taking shoppable posts to an even more interactive level, livestreaming has become a powerful way to connect with shoppers in real time. Think QVC, but on social media. With the livestream shopping format, an expert or influencer demonstrates a product, talks about its various features, and responds to questions from a live digital audience. Creators can host shoppable livestreams on ubiquitous social-media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as on Amazon.

Shoppers watching livestreams on the Amazon Live platform can shop for products that are listed alongside the video player while creators chat with and respond to viewers, highlight products, share promotion codes, deals, and more--all in real-time. This format provides an opportunity to create fun, informative, personalized, interactive experiences that can attract new customers and establish loyalty.

Pixel tracking

A Facebook pixel is a piece of code provided by Facebook that, once added to a website, collects data that allows you to track conversions from Facebook ads, optimize ads, build more targeted audiences, and re-engage qualified shoppers (users who've already taken an action on your website). Once the pixel code is added to your website, you can sit back and watch the data come in. Essentially, pixels give you the ability to do three crucial things that are challenging with other marketing tactics: track, measure, and retarget.

User actions on a website are classified by categories called Events. Examples include when a specific page is viewed, when a search is made, when a product is added to cart, when a purchase is made, when a sign-up is completed, and when a registration form is completed. Being able to attach an intent or action to a unique visitor allows you to segment audiences for strategic retargeting in the future.

Microtargeting

Insight garnered from tools such as pixels provide a tremendous advantage when it comes to identifying audience subsets, or microtargeting. As the word implies, microtargeting is the process of segmenting an audience into concentrated groups based on indicators such as interests and demographics, and targeting each segment with messages crafted specifically to appeal to them.  

One popular microtargeting tool is Facebook's Lookalike Audience. It allows advertisers to upload a list of emails or create a custom Facebook audience. Using its own algorithm, it then generates a "copycat" audience of similar users likely to be just as interested in your business as the original audience. It's worth noting that Facebook has removed a range of ad-targeting options to limit potentially discriminatory audience targeting. For example, advertisers who run ads pertaining to housing, employment, or credit can no longer target by age, gender, or Zip code.

Microtargeting data can be derived from a page someone follows, a group they're in, an interest they list--even their browsing habits. I was recently shopping for a standing table that had to be very narrow to fit the space where I wanted to put it. After looking online for days, lo and behold, the perfect table popped up in my Facebook feed. Not only was the size correct, the style and color were exactly to my taste. It's a science, but when it happens to a shopper, it can feel like fate, which is why it works.

The process of discovery through social content is important particularly, though not exclusively, for smaller, niche brands. In part, this is due, of course, to budgetary restraints, but these tactics also attract customers who might not otherwise be searching for these products on an e-commerce platform.