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Why new online retailers need a social media marketing plan

Written by Spencer Durrant on July 13, 2015 in How to Sell Products Online


Social media continues to play an ever-increasing role for businesses across the globe. Even some of the NBA’s business is taken care of on Twitter. Being successful, especially for online retailers, means fully embracing social media.

But where do you start? For people new to the online retailing industry, navigating social media for business use can be confusing. This is why your business needs a social media marketing plan.

Your plan will help you stay on track, deliver consistent messages to your followers, and see a good return on the time you invest in managing your social media accounts.

It all starts with understanding social media

Over 1 billion people are on Facebook. 302 million people actively use Twitter. Instagram draws a crowd of 300 million users. Everyone is on social media these days, and these large groups of users present unique opportunities for companies to drive traffic directly to their websites.

For new and just-starting online retailers, social media presents a lot of unique ways to get attention. You can sign up and start connecting with potential customers for free. This gives you direct access to a huge potential traffic stream.

According to HubSpot, 80% of marketers reported that their social media efforts resulted in increased traffic to their websites. This is a traffic stream that any business, but especially new online retailers, can’t afford to pass up.

Jayson DeMers illustrated this point very well in an article for Forbes.

"Without social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people already familiar with your brand and individuals searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site.”

It should be pretty obvious now that your online store isn’t going to do very well without an active social media presence. But now that you understand why social media is so important, creating an effective social media marketing plan is that much easier.

So where do I get started?

Creating your social media marketing plan consists of four major steps. 

Create your accounts

If you haven’t already, create your social media accounts. You definitely want to set up a Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ account. Google+ doesn’t receive near the traffic Twitter or Facebook does, but it’s important to have for SEO purposes.

If you sell products that are visually appealing - or are used in beautiful environments, like the outdoors - then reserve your business name on Instagram by creating an account there. Most outdoor apparel and gear companies will use Instagram to share user photos of the gear being worn or used out in the field. This is a great way to drum up some brand recognition.

Define your strategy and goals

Specifically defining how you will use each social media platform and the results you want to see from your social media work will help keep your social media publishing on track.

For example, if your sole concern is raising your brand awareness, and not necessarily trying to drive leads from social media, you might want to focus more on interactions, retweets, likes, and shares. You could set goals for each of these statistics every week in an effort to increase recognition of your site and store.

Conversely, if your goal is to drive leads to your site, then you’ll be focused more on tracking conversion rates, leads generated, and site traffic through your website analytics software. Regardless of what you’re trying to get out of social media, you need to have a goal in mind so you can measure how effective your efforts are.

Look at what others are doing

Once your goals are clearly defined, it’s time to look at what other companies in your niche are doing on social media. What type of content are they sharing? How are they interacting with their followers? How active are they?

While you certainly don’t want to copy anyone else, the successful companies in your niche are succeeding for a reason. Identifying the types of content that best engage potential customers in your niche will boost the productivity of your own social media efforts, particularly as you fight for attention early on.

Create a calendar

Quality is equally important as quantity. While you do want to be posting regularly, and interacting with customers, building an audience happens when you consistently deliver interesting content.

Schedule your posts out well in advance, and spend some time making sure the language of the posts is on-point and promotes engagement. If you happen to be blogging, make sure to plan social media posts around the times when you publish your blog posts.

A social media rule of thumb is that you post on Twitter more often than any other network - anywhere from 5-14 times per day, depending on how much content you have to share. Facebook posts should only go out 1-2 times a day, and that rule applies to Google+ as well.

If you need more information on posting frequency, look at this post from BufferApp.

Excelling on social media is an important part of running a successful online store. As with any kind of plan, you’ll want to periodically examine your social media marketing plan to ensure that you’re aligned with your goals. Don’t be afraid to tweak parts of your plan if you feel changes are needed, but don’t get impatient. Building a lucrative social media following will take time, and you need to be invested for the long haul.

If you found the information in this blog post helpful, you’ll likely enjoy the information in our free whitepaper, “The Dos and Dont’s of Dropshipping.” You can download it by clicking the button below.

The Dos and Don'ts of Drop Shipping whitepaper


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