Boosting value for money with social commerce

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Social commerce has developed into a considerable sales avenue for ecommerce. The last two decades saw social networks shifting from being passive revenue streams to active channels for making sales. With the definition of personal and social interactions blurring, merchants can directly market to shoppers in their personal space. The basic proposition that sellers are now using social media to up brand awareness but also convert prospects and build loyalty is widely accepted, but how can they boost their ROI as the market continues to mature?

As a chief marketing officer of an Amazon influencer marking agency Stack Influence, William Gasner is placed to address this.social commerce

In conversation with Tamebay, William considers social commerce as a serious driving factor of retail sales over the past decade. In the past few years, social-driven ecommerce sales have overtaken all other forms of referral mediums with a growth rate of 110% in two years, according to a market analysis done by Emarketer.

However, social commerce still has much room to grow in the online marketing sector contributing to only 9.1% of inbound ecommerce traffic in 2019. As platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube continue to incorporate new ecommerce promotional features, William believes social commerce will become the most influential marketing modality available in the ecommerce industry.

This year saw Instagram introducing ecommerce checkout features within their platform making it easier for consumers to shop products promoted in social posts.

Instagram’s integrated checkout is currently only available to top brands like Vogue and GQ, but will most likely become universally available to all businesses in the near future. Instagram have also released functionality allowing influencer posts to incorporate product “tags” that provide followers with the ability to instantaneously purchase products they are promoting by utilising their new in-house payment gateway checkout system.

However, William says these new developments are a major win for social commerce since Instagram is the dominating platform for social promotions.

Without any way to incorporate hyperlinks in posts, it makes it exceptionally difficult to facilitate a seamless consumer conversion when promoting products. Instagram is now thankfully shifting these arduous realities with their new software developments and William believes many other social platforms will follow suit on the path to practicality ameliorate social commerce impediments.

Cost-effective social commerce approaches

Hiring out influencer agencies to run social commerce campaigns can be a costly pursuit due to the extensive process of sourcing, negotiating, and managing social creators. However, a lot of what goes into running influencer marketing initiatives can be accomplished through sweat and grind if funds are low and manpower is accessible in-house.

However, William says the best approach to a cost-saving social commerce campaign using influencers is to start with hashtags.

A prime example would involve finding the 20 to 30 most popular hashtags related to a seller’s product offering. If a merchant sells athletic equipment, they should consider hashtags such as sports, gyms, exercise.

One tool to source popular hashtags is all-hashtag.com but there are many to choose from.

Once a seller done a hashtag research, they should create a spreadsheet with relevant data points inlcuding name, niche, IG handle and follow the process below:

  • Click top posts for hashtag X
  • Click into each post and through to the person’s profile
  • Check to make sure they have the desired number of followers
  • Check to make sure their content is consistently relevant, or directly related to your niche
  • Check if their engagement is a bare minimum of 2% (the formula for engagement is [likes + comments per post] / # of followers)
  • Try to find their email in bio and if you can’t find it, direct message them
  • Record all relevant data points in your spreadsheet
  • Move to next post for hashtag X
  • Repeat

William says it is vital to build a good amount of potential influencer prospects because only a small percentage will end up being quality candidates for the job and only a few will be willing to participate.

Working with smaller influencers, known as Micro-Influencer, can be difficult because their compensation is usually minimal – unless sellers have large enough budgets to pay them a good fee. However, there are ways to mitigate risks when dealing with any influencer.

How to brand-poof a social influencer

To limit the probability of a negative outcome as much as possible when running these campaigns, sellers should consider the following:

  • The more responsive a person is during negotiations, the more likely they are to be reliable
  • The more they engage with their post comments, the more likely they are to care about their following base
  • The more they show a passion for your market niche in their profile, the more likely they are to truly care about your product

If manpower is short, time is limited, but a seller has a large marketing budget war chest, they should take advantage of the power and advantages an influencer marketing agency can offer.

William believes an agency can do the heavy lifting for sellers, providing massive time and stress savings; quick and highly targeted identification of niche-specific influencers who are adept at promoting products; utilisation of tried and true methodologies to negotiate with influencers; and insurance that influencers actually complete all promotional requirements in a timely manner without taking their product or payment and running.

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