Being Authentic On Social Media

KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 26, 2013: Collection of well-known social media brands printed on paper and placed on plastic signs. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Tumblr logo.

Here is a question to ponder: how many times have you gone on to Facebook or Twitter and been frustrated with a brand or company that you follow because the message comes off as disingenuous or impersonal? This kind of thing happens all the time, and we here at Shoppost came up with what we call the “ABA” rule: Always Be Authentic.

At first glance, appearing to be genuine may seem cut-and-dried, but it’s more complicated in our very suspicious world. Sure, it may be straightforward with with your personal profile to a population who knows you, but for brands and businesses, it can be a bit trickier. First of all, being transparent is important. People sense when they are being led or lied to by a company. Maybe not all the time, but you only get one strike before your image is irreversibly tarnished, so don’t take the chance! It’s the quickest way to lose customers, revenue, and ultimately trust, which social media is built upon. People don’t want to connect with other people or brands if they feel there is a lack of integrity. To assist you in, to use a phrase from the 60’s, ‘keep it real,’ we figured it would be a good idea to write out a few guidelines for merchants and brands to follow. We hope this is will help create a better social and customer experience for your brand.

 

Engage Your Social Audience

Meme

The number one way to engage your audience is to be a positive source for information. And for fun, you can layer in some entertainment. A great example of this would be the use of memes in your social postings. What is a meme you may ask? According to Wikipedia, a meme is “an idea behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Some of the most well known brands use memes as an effective way to reach their audience. If you want to make one for you own campaign, head on over to Meme Generator and get started. They are super easy to make and it’s easy to let your creativity run wild. Also, remember that when you are reaching out to you followers, leave actual comments and engage with them, not just liking posts.

Use Real Images

We recommend that you not limit your account to graphic and stock photos. Instead, use photos of real people – you, co-workers, happy customers. You don’t need to filter everything through photoshop; just use undoctored (albeit good ones!) to convey who you and the company are. Every picture doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to tell something and connect with your followers.

Provide Guidance

This is your business and your opportunity to demonstrate your command of the industry. Social media is the best chance you have to really convey that type of authority and set the tone for your brand. This can be done by sharing industry relevant information in addition to promoting your company.

Be Human

Last but not least, remember to be human. Give your social media accounts a human voice and personality. It is all too easy for a brand to create a social bot and interact with their customers passively, but this can lead to some disastrous effects. It’s ok to automate some aspects of your social media accounts, but by all means, do not do this when actually starting a conversation with a customer.

Recap

Here is a quick recap of the main points:

  • Engage your audience and be a positive source for information
  • Use your genuine images
  • Provide guidance to your customers by being the authority that you are
  • Sound like a  human by using your voice.

The first bullet point is by far the most important because without an audience, you will have no one to promote your brand and ideas to. And without engaging your audience, most folks may assume your account is nothing more than spam.

So what approach to social media has worked for your business? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Best Practices for Using Shoppost on Facebook

Best Practice
Many of you have asked us about how you should use Shoppost on social media, with an extra emphasis on Facebook. We have found that with Facebook’s efforts to improve the “quality” of content its algorithm places in news feeds, ensuring that your page’s posts are as high quality as possible is essential.

With that in mind, here are several tips to ensure your posts have the most reach possible!

Post between non product sales post.

Remember folks are not always wanting to be sold to. Spread out your postings of Shopposts so that it creates a natural cadence of content. Don’t want to look like spam to your followers. That is the quickest way to lose fans.

spiegel screen

Add additional context or stories to your statuses.

If you are selling T-shirts, mention something about them in the post. People are more compelled to click on your post if you include something in the status. Otherwise they don’t know what the heck the shoppost is and it will get skipped over.

All about that action boss. 

Vector Round 3D click here pointer - button (call to action)

Don’t forget to add some sort of call to action like “click the play button to check it out” or “click on the play button to buy it now.”

Spend a little to get a lot. 

Mega explosive sale design, comics style.

Facebook has publicly stated it is tightening the amount of organic reach a page’s post will receive. In order to get a bit more eyes on your post try boosting it with a small budget, nothing to big. You would be amazed how $25 or $50 dollars spend can be a great ROI booster. Shopposts are not like your traditional ads so a little boost can go a long way and by taking advantage of Facebook’s demographic and interest targeting, it can be a great way to kick start a successful Facebook post.

Timing is Everything
3d big red alarm clock and alarm clocks on white

Best time to post on Facebook is during those lull hours during the workday between 1-4PM. This is when the most clicks on posts occur and also is when people at their desk are looking for a bit of an escape from the day.

If you’re sharing content on the weekends, posting before 8AM or after 8PM will most likely get you the best clicks and traffic. People on the weekends are less like to engage with FB because they are out doing things with friends, family or just checking out from technology all together.

Curate, don’t automate.

social-management-tools

In order to make social sharing and management, use social media management tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer or other tools to schedule posts in advance and then you can spend time on your core business. We will cover the ins and outs of how to use Shoppost with those tools here in the near future.

The biggest piece of advice is to avoid posting ten shopposts in row, this could be perceived as spamming and at worst will just annoy the person on the other end and you will probably lose them as a potential customer after that. Be real and let them know that there is a human behind the page and not only an automaton :) And, of course, be sure to like our non-salesy, non-spam, organically curated Facebook page.

The Need for Social Commerce

Technology has turned shopping into an “in your pajamas” experience or something you can do on the bus on your morning commute. We spend more time shopping at virtual stores than we do in one we can walk into. I can buy my groceries, most of the things I wear and pretty much everything I read without leaving my desk.

Brands and merchants have now discovered that they need to become multi-channel in how they sell to consumers. And not just that, they have to be concerned with multi-screen continuity, as well. That is, the experience on your phone, tablet or laptop all need to have similar feel and functionality. You can’t rely on foot traffic alone for all of your revenue. You need to capture and engage with the consumer or prospect in as many venues as possible. Social media has allowed for the merchant to engage, not just with current customers, but future ones, as well.

Social media can be a major asset for e-tailers. But only if they can create rich content that allows them to reach their customers with engaging content.

Social media can be a major asset for e-tailers. But only if they can create rich content that allows them to reach their customers with engaging content.

Talking about people talking about items

Word of mouth is how we acquired our preferences – “this is what we had in the house growing up” or “that is what my friends bought.” That is pinnacle for a brand. The recommendation on a purchase from someone whose opinion you trust plays a very large part in our buying decisions. But those word of mouth endorsements can be easier thanks to Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and many other social media sites. In the past, you had to contact a friend for a suggestion. Now, you can simply check their Facebook page or quickly crowdsource out a question. Within seconds, you are inundated with suggestions.

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising. So what does this have to do with social commerce? It’s actually pretty straightforward: A brand or merchant can’t rely on organic conversations to be the only tool for marketing its products. They need to utilize tools to create proactive campaigns that help push the word out. And that is exactly what social commerce is all about.

Defining how to be social and sociable

So, what is social commerce? Marketing consultant Heidi Cohen says it “is the evolution and maturation of social media meets shopping.” I think she’s right on target. It is using social media to create word of mouth for your products.

According to Mashable, several distinct types of social commerce exist:

  1. Peer-to-peer sales platforms (Shopify, Etsy, Amazon Marketplace): Plugins that integrate ecommerce solutions with inventory management and payment processing.
  2. Social network-driven sales (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter): Sales driven by referrals from established social networks, or take place on the networks themselves (i.e., through a “shop” tab on Facebook).
  3. Group buying (Groupon, LivingSocial). Products and services offered at a reduced rate if enough buyers agree to make the purchase.
  4. Peer recommendations (Amazon, Yelp, JustBoughtIt): Sites that aggregate product or service reviews, recommend products based on others’ purchasing history (i.e. “Others who bought item x also bought item y,” as seen on Amazon), and/or reward individuals for sharing products and purchases with friends through social networks.
  5. User-curated shopping (The Fancy, Lyst, Svpply): Shopping-focused sites where users create and share lists of products and services for others to shop from.
  6. Participatory commerce (Threadless, Kickstarter, CutOnYourBias): Consumers become involved directly in the production process through voting, funding and collaboratively designing products.
  7. Social shopping (Motilo, Fashism, GoTryItOn). Sites that attempt to replicate shopping offline with friends by including chat and forum features for exchanging advice and opinions.

Encouraging participation

Being able to create immersive experiences that go beyond copy and pasting a link helps boost engagement and, ultimately, ROI.

The key to us is social network-driven sales. By including social media as a core emphasis of your marketing and product promotion strategy, you can see a greater ROI. You may think that you are already doing this because you include a link to your site on Facebook or occasionally tweet a product. In theory, this is a great introduction to social commerce. But there’s a lot you’re not seeing when you do that: inventory management, analytics of the clicks and even ROI calculators.

The issue with social network-driven sales is that if you go the route of a tab store you then have to create ways to drive users to that store which, really, defeats the purpose of having the tab store in the first place. You could just as easily send the consumer to your website. Now, you can add all of these tracking pixels and such to measure the engagement and conversions and then retarget the consumer at a later time, but is that really what social network-driven sales has come down to? Why can’t there be another way where you can reach the consumers where they are and engage with them there? Give them the means to make that purchase decision without redirecting them or having them have to go to a tab or see another site. Nothing kills a sale like additional friction in making a purchase. Every additional step is one more place to lose a customer. This, I believe, is where social network driven sales needs to go instead of where it is now — just about collecting likes and shares but not sales. Real ROI is where you see the post actually generate revenue without all of that redirecting and retargeting in hopes of getting a purchase made.

Social commerce is new and everyone is going to sample many of the tools I’ve listed above, as well they should. However, after trying all of them don’t forget your goal: driving sales.

Would love to hear your feedback and hear how you are using social commerce and the tools and practices that are working for you!

The Pay-for-Play Social Revolution: What SMBs Need to Know

Focus on banking with Small Business isolated on blue

More brands and more people are posting on social media. Facebook has more than 1.28 billion monthly active users, while Twitter has 255 million. You do the quick math – with that many users posting and sharing potentially multiple times a day, it’s no wonder it’s harder than ever for SMBs to connect with their target audience via social media. However despite that proliferation of content, these channels are making it easier – and more affordable – for SMBs to get their posts and tweets seen by the right people.

What is Paid and Why Should You Care?

Social media marketing strategies fall into three channels: owned, earned and paid. Owned channels are your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc. These are the channels were you share your content and your message. When social media usage was in its infancy, it was easy for a brand to set up a profile and share content – and have it seen organically. If people really liked the content, it would earn the attention of followers and potentially go viral, or capture the attention of media, who then wrote about it. Because the adoption and usage of social media channels have grown so much, there’s increased competition for attention – this is where paid comes in.

Ever wonder why you see posts from brands every day, while others you never see? Paid helps your posts and content be seen. It’s no longer enough to just produce great content – you need to put a little money behind it to ensure you stand out among the baby pictures and BuzzFeed articles users friends are posting. And it’s not that hard to do with self-service platforms designed with SMBs in mind. All you need is a little money (budget is up to you), an image and ad copy, and a link to where you’re interested in driving traffic.

How do you get started?

1. Got goals?: Is your objective to grow engagement on your social channels? Or drive someone to your webpage? Once you figure out what your ultimate goal is, you’ll be able to come up with a tactical strategy to help you reach your objective.

2. What’s your strategy?: The best paid social media programs employ a mix of tactics across Facebook and Twitter. In a Mashable article, HipLogiq CTO and cofounder Adam Root explains: “My strategy is to use Twitter to gain new users, Facebook to build a community. My logic in choosing this strategy is that Twitter is a good medium for targeting moments and encouraging action, Facebook is a great medium for building long-term relationships…”

Keep in mind, Facebook and Twitter offer a few different types of paid social media options –advertisements or promoted posts. Your strategy (and the types of social media paid options you employ) will be influenced by your ultimate goal. If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of social media buys you can execute on these platforms, check out this an easy to understand tutorial from Facebook and this guide from Twitter.

3. Who are you trying to reach?: One of the best parts about paid is that it ensures that the right people are seeing the right content. Going into your campaign, you need to know exactly who you want to reach – even down to the geographic location. Because social media users are sharing a lot of personal information on these sites, it’s easy to ensure that someone who is interested in craft beer in Seattle is able to see your promoted post or promoted Tweet about craft beer in Seattle.

4. Get creative with your content: If you’re going to do a social media paid buy, you’ll need some creative content. The type of creative content you need will be influenced by your strategy, but you’ll need to make sure that the images, text and links you’re utilizing will be relevant for your audience(s). For example, an image of someone running in New York City, won’t resonate if your target audience is runners in San Diego.

If you opt to promote a post or Tweet (vs. execute a social ad), all you’ll need is a link to the piece of content and some text that you would use for an update.

5. Advertise away!: Once your strategy and audience is defined, your ads can be up and running in 2-3 days via Facebook or Twitter’s self-serve platform. You can look in real-time to see how your paid buys are performing and what is resonating with your target audience. Something didn’t land well? That’s okay – you can easily re-allocate your budget to a new ad or post that you know your audience would be interested in based on how the rest of your campaign is performing.

Does your SMB have a paid social media strategy? How are you using it to grow your owned channels?

Welcome to Shoppost!

screenshot-2-shoppost-previewWith the release of any new product, it is traditional for a company’s founder to share his or her thoughts on what they intend to achieve, or how they see their product impacting the world.

Now, I’m reluctant to call this sharing my vision, as that’s a slippery slope to referring to yourself as a ‘visionary.’ And that’d lead to hearing things at home like, “honey, visionaries don’t roll the trash down the curb,” which is a road I do not wish to travel. So, rather than sharing my vision, let me just tell you what Shoppost is and what I hope it will do for you.

Shoppost is a social commerce application that lets merchants sell goods from their Shopify or Big Commerce stores on social media networks. With just a few clicks, you can showcase and sell your products directly on your followers’ Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as on Google+ and Pinterest, letting your customers shop and interact with your product without ever having to leave the site.

We know that people spend an enormous amount of time on social media every day, and this trend will only continue. We’ve seen that consumers follow merchants and product lines they like and, in turn, want to share their experience with their peers. But until now, there wasn’t a simple, effective way to do this within a social media platform, or offer a seamless experience that moves the customer from one platform to the others without frustrating consequences.

Until Shoppost, the solution has been a series of redirects, cumbersome processes and time wasted, resulting in lot of abandoned shopping carts. But now that Shoppost is available, these are problems of the past. Building your Shoppost takes just a minute for you to set up, and purchasing and sharing couldn’t be easier for your customers.

Shoppost lets your customers preview your product with an image or video of the product that’s located directly on the social media platform – they can even interact with the product by selecting a size, color or any other variant. And all of this happens without a redirect. Your customers on Facebook don’t have to leave the site until they land on your secure checkout page.

There’s nothing else out there that’s even close to this functionality. It takes just a minute to promote a product, and even less time for your customers to buy. And additional integrations and enhancements to Shoppost are rolling out all the time. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Shoppost costs nothing and can only increase your sales and brand awareness. So give it a try – then be sure to drop me a line to let me know how we’re doing for you.

Happy Shopposting!

David Robb
CEO

What Small Businesses Get Right About Social Media – And What They Get Wrong

Social Media Newspaper Concept

Social media has been a huge boon to small businesses all over the world. Perhaps no other platform has enabled businesses just getting off the ground to amplify their message and reach their customers. But not every business is taking full advantage of this opportunity. So what are some of the things that small businesses get right about social media, and what do they get wrong?

The Good

Have a Facebook presence –More than 25 million small businesses are now using Facebook, which is a positive sign. Facebook today is properly understood as the top platform for most businesses to engage their customers. Expanding your brand presence on Facebook can only lead to positive results.

Be human – One of the more positive aspects of being a small business is that it’s much, much harder to sound like a soulless corporation in your communications. Many small businesses are significantly more responsive and engaging with their audience than larger brands, which admittedly have larger followings, but still should not just use social media as a place to just regurgitate their press releases.

Don’t go overboard – You know that company that uses social media to just regurgitate their press releases? Well, their evil twin is the company that uses social media to constantly promote their products many, many times a day, day after day after day. There’s a time and a place for promoting your products, but multiple times a day is not that time. That’s a lesson that most small businesses inherently understand. You know your customers limits. We’ll get back to this question of how much to post a little later.

The Bad

Not Utilizing Twitter or LinkedIn –SMBs are using Facebook, but they’re not utilizing Twitter or LinkedIn, which, increasingly, is becoming a missed opportunity. Fewer than one in four use Twitter, and fewer than one in five uses LinkedIn, both of which are becoming more and more useful platforms for your small business strategy – LinkedIn especially, as in addition to reaching potential clients and talent directly, it’s also a source of strong business advice.

Not Posting Enough – If you look around the Internet, you’ll find dozens—maybe hundreds—of guides telling you exactly when and how many times you need to post to achieve maximum engagement. Too many businesses get caught in that trap. According to longtime entrepreneur and advisor Guy Kawasaki, you shouldn’t worry about how often you post on social media.

“Almost every company is not posting as much as they should,” Kawasaki recently told Business Insider. “Many are believing ‘expert’ advice that the optimal number of posts on each platform is one per day. This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard. Imagine if NPR, CNN, ESPN, or the BBC did one report per day — and never repeated it. Companies are afraid of a vocal minuscule minority complaining about too many posts and repeated posts.”

The takeaway? If you have something that’s useful and relevant for your audience, post it. And conversely, if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.

Expecting Immediate Results – You have a Facebook profile filled out, great imagery and a crack team ready to engage potential customers. So you should start seeing an uptick in sales, right?

Not so fast, my friend.

You’re in this for the long game. You’ll be engaging with a lot of potential customers who have no plans to make a purchase in the near future. Your goal with your social media strategy shouldn’t be to immediately convert everyone on your Facebook list, it should be to build your brand awareness, keep your business top of mind when it does come time for making a purchase, and to nurture and support potential brand advocates among your customers. Patience: it’s not just a virtue – it’s a sales strategy.

How to More Easily Market Your Products on Social Media

Casual businessman working at office desk, using mobile phone an

Like most technology, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are in a state of constant change. And while these changes are often undertaken for the end user’s benefit, they can often throw your marketing strategy into chaos.

How are you supposed to promote your products and reach your customers when you don’t know if what you’re doing today will work tomorrow? And how can you tread this uncertain landscape when chances are that none of the platforms you’re on will operate the same way a year from now?

Change is inevitable. But though you may not know what’s coming, you can prepare all the same. Here are three tips to more easily market your products on social media, and handle the occasional curveball.

Keep on Top of Changes

If you want to use social media, you have to understand the platforms. Yes, change is inevitable, but you need to know what’s changed and how it’s changed, when it changes. By understanding what’s happened and how it will affect your business’ social presence, you can craft a plan of action to address the changes now and keep your online presence on a path of growth.

You can’t get ahead on social media if your strategy is based on information that’s years behind. Check out sites like Social Media Examiner to keep on top of the latest in the world of social.

Aggressively Target Your Audience

Knowing who your audience is is Marketing 101. But that audience changes. They browse different websites. Their interests change. They watch different TV shows and like new bands. And if you want to reach out to them and talk to them where they’re at, you need to keep up.

Do what you can to strengthen your audience research. You can then take this data and use it for better-targeted advertisements. Social media platforms are nothing more than giant data sponges, and their ad programs can each be heavily targeted at certain segments of that data. Be sure you’re on top of who you’re talking to when you’re using paid media.

Build Your Community

You know what convinces people to buy things, more than anything else? It’s not the big elaborate commercials. It’s not the hilarious advertisements you put up around town. It’s not even your totally awesome website. No, it’s people – friends, colleagues and even acquaintances who enthusiastically promote your product.

You can help build this community of potential brand ambassadors by starting on social media. Engaging with your customers and your community, and being a company that is seen as really, truly, actually human, is the best way to turn customers into advocates for your brand. Make sure your social presence is as engaging as possible.

Of course, the presumes that you have a product that’s worth raving about. If you do, there’s no better way to get your product in front of potential customers than Shoppost. And the easier it is to share your product with their friends and family, the better your word-of-mouth buzz will end up being.

What about you? How have you responded to the changing social media landscape?