Let's talk data. The average person spends 118 minutes a day on social media sites like Facebook (which boasts more than 1.5 billion active users worldwide), Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, while 74% of consumers rely on social media to influence their buying decisions. Quite simply, if your brand isn't using social media to the fullest extent possible, there's a good chance you're missing out on potential sales.
Thanks to new tech tools, selling on social media isn't limited to posting sales messages and spamming followers with coupon codes. These days, you can actually sell products within your social profiles, hitting consumers when they're already engaged with your brand.
Below, I'll share the specific steps you'll need to take to sell within Facebook and Instagram, as well as best practices that should apply to your promotions on any social network. Use them to improve brand recognition, build a loyal customer base, and drive more sales with social media.
How to Sell Within Facebook
Facebook may be the world's most popular social media site, but all that engagement means it's also a powerful selling opportunity. Fortunately, Facebook gives you the ability to set up a store - also known as a Shop - directly within the platform.
There are two things you'll need to make this work:
First, you need to create a Facebook Page. If you don't already have one, check out the instructions here. For the following instructions, I'll assume you're running a Shopify store, though the process is similar with other e-commerce platforms.
Step #1 - Adjust your product image sizes
Whether you have an existing store or you're building one from scratch, make sure your images meet Facebook's requirements so that they'll appear correctly in your Shop. Here's a great guide on how to size your images.
Step #2 - Link your e-commerce and Facebook accounts
Once your product listings are set up, you'll need to link your Shopify account with your Facebook Account, so that people can buy products (or at least view them) using a 'Shop Tab' on your Facebook Page.
To get this done, click on the '+' sign within the 'Sales Channels' section found on the lefthand sidebar. Then click on the 'Learn More' button next to 'Facebook.'
Click on 'Add Channel,' and Shopify will prompt you to 'Connect Your Facebook Account.' Click on the 'Connect Account' button, and you'll be redirected to Facebook in order to give the appropriate permissions.
Once you've done that, you'll be returned to the previous page where you were asked to link your Shopify account with Facebook. Now, select your page from the dropdown menu and click 'Connect Page' to complete the process. If your store is password-protected, you'll be prompted to remove the password in order to make your store visible on Facebook.
Step #3 - Add the Shop Tab to your Facebook Page
Once you've taken the steps above, Facebook needs to review your shop before it'll be visible to those who visit your page. In the meantime, however, you can get your Facebook Page set up so that it'll be visible once your shop opens.
To do this, click on the 'Settings' tab within your Facebook Page and select the 'Edit Page' option. You'll then be shown a section where you can change the template used for your Page. Click on 'Edit' to change the template and scroll down until you find the 'Shopping Template.'
Click on 'View Details,' then click 'Apply Template.' Now, as soon as your store is approved, everyone who visits your Facebook Page will be able to click on your store's Shop Tab and see your products.
How to Sell Within Instagram
On Instagram, you can't set up a store tab. You can, however, use tools to make it easier to sell on Instagram, either by using comments to trigger purchases, or by using bio links to take people to your e-commerce store.
Using comments to trigger purchases
Using a tool like Soldsie, you can set up images within your Instagram account in such a way that your followers can leave the comment 'Sold' to purchase an item related to your Instagram images. If these users have created an account with Soldsie, their purchases will happen automatically after their comment. If they haven't, they can leave their email address to be sent an invoice.
Because of the way Soldsie works, it's a good idea to post information ahead of posting new products or special sales to give your followers time to set up an account. Here's an example of how that can be done.
Using bio links to take people to your e-commerce store
This is probably the most straightforward way to promote products using Instagram. To make it work, all you have to do is provide a link to your e-commerce store in your profile's bio section.
Then, whenever you post images featuring products for sale, include a note in your captions where users can click the link in your bio to buy from you.
Social Selling Best Practices
The guides above show you how, logistically, to sell on your social media platforms, but keep in mind that the way you roll out these promotions will ultimately determine how successful they are.
Keep the following best practices in mind as you start your own social selling campaigns:
- Post meaningful content. Check out the way Red Mango, a popular frozen yogurt chain, shares customer reviews, pictures, and product information to keep their followers updated on menu changes and seasonal offerings, while also giving followers the opportunity to interact with the brand.
- Keep your branding consistent. According to AJ Agrawal, "Making the effort to keep your messages consistent can help you cultivate a loyal customer following. The way your customers respond will change enormously if you focus on sending the right message." Multiple representations can get confusing. If the branding and image you're cultivating is too different across platforms, customers may question whether it's coming from the same company.
- Use hashtags appropriately. Don't go overboard, and don't try to get too clever. For example, Domino's Pizza started the campaign #letsdolunch to advertise a sale in their UK-based restaurants. The simplicity of the hashtag made it easy for people to remember and allowed the campaign to catch on with the general public.
- Don't overload your profiles with sales messages. Nobody wants to feel like they're more prospect than brand loyalist. As Neil Patel says, "The number of times that you should post on each platform varies. Your audience demographics, social media following, and business goals should all factor into your social media schedule." Watch your engagement data to target prime posting times and avoid oversharing.
Selling on social media doesn't have to be scary - and you don't have to do it all at once. You just have to start. Just pick one of the techniques above and give it a try, then let me know how it goes.
How did these tips work for you? Share the results you get by returning to this article and leaving me a note below: