3 Social Media Channels to Fire Up Your Sales | ShippingEasy

3 Social Channels to Fire Up Your E-Commerce Sales

By Jack Ship
Jun 7, 2018

Email and social media are a match made in digital heaven.

At one time, people thought social media would kill email because it didn’t have the spam and filtering problems that beset email marketing in its early days. We’ve learned since then that each channel can propel the other one to greater heights.

Email builds social: Use the broad reach of your email messages to persuade subscribers to connect with you in your chosen social channels, especially to create conversations and build stronger relationships.

Social builds email: Dedicate social posts to promote your email program to fans and followers who find you on social media first. You can even let subscribers sign up directly from your social homepages.

This Promoted Pin shows how vodka maker Absolut uses Pinterest to collect opt-ins for a special-interest newsletter on cocktail recipes:

social media absolut

Selling on social media

Social media began with like-minded people having conversations on the web. Then, enterprising marketers soon discovered they could sell in these niche areas, too.

Selling on social media can be tricky. Some social media users resent seeing ads alongside their photos, videos, and commentary. Be selective about the kinds of products you promote, the audiences you choose, and how often you post promotions.

Some social channels allow shoppers to buy directly from a post. More often, though, the link will go to a dedicated landing page, just like an email or search link.

Which channels should you choose?

This will be one of your hardest decisions. Where do you start? The answer begins with “It depends…”

It depends on the kind of audience you want to reach – age, gender, location, special interests – and how much you want to spend (if anything).

Facebook, for example, began as a hangout for college students. It now covers pre-teens to great-grandparents. If there’s an all-purpose social marketplace these days, Facebook is it.

You probably heard, however, that teens are deserting Facebook in favor of apps their parents can’t track them on, like Snapchat. If teens aren’t your target audience, Facebook is a good starting point because it’s easy and inexpensive to get started. As an added bonus, Facebook offers the most robust interest and demographic targeting among all the social networks.

How much will it cost?

You can get started for free with the three networks we recommend you try if you’re just starting out with social selling: Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. You will need to create business accounts (or convert your personal accounts for business use), but you can do that for free.

However, you will need to pay if you want your posts to stand out, especially on Facebook. The network recently changed the way it highlights posts in its users’ news feeds. Buying an ad or a Promoted Post increases the chance that your post will get seen by the customers you’re targeting.

On the up side, you can set a daily budget for as little as $20 if you just want to test the waters.
Look for specific hints and tips in each of the three discussions below.

Note: Shopify users can integrate their stores on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Have an ecommerce store on another platform? BigCommerce and Magento have integrations with Facebook that will help you expand your social reach on this channel.

1. Facebook

Audience profile

How to succeed on Facebook

Facebook has taken its lumps recently over data mishandling and algorithm changes, but no other social network makes it so easy to set up shop. The sheer reach of this platform makes it a must for almost any kind of marketing plan.

Facebook gives you many options to sell, from sponsored posts that appear in users’ news feeds to custom ads that appear in the third column on the web viewer.

First, create a Facebook account, if you haven’t already. Then, set up a Facebook Page. Don’t try to sell from a personal account. A Page gives you many options to customize it and collect data from visitors that you can use to target content. You also can add in tabs for subscribing to email, setting up a Facebook Store, and other actions with just a few clicks.

When you’re ready to start creating an ad, Facebook’s Ad Manager will walk you through the steps. We like that the ad creator asks you to pick an objective before you start setting up your ad. This will help you make better choices all the way through the creation process.

Two versions of Facebook ads: These two ads appear in the right column in the web viewer.

social media custom audience

This newsfeed ad uses Facebook’s carousel image viewer to show a rotating collection of product shots. Carousel ads have their advantages: they boast a 30% to 50% lower cost per conversion and a 20% to 30% lower cost per click than single-image ads according to Facebook.

social media newsfeed


Read these two sections of the how-to guide before you get started: Facebook Business and Choose Your Audience.

2. Instagram

Audience profile

How to succeed on Instagram

A 2014 statistic says engaged Instagram followers generate average order values that are $10 higher, on average, than engaged Facebook followers. We haven’t been able to confirm that this number still holds, but it’s a good data point to track. The data you find can help you decide which channel is more productive.

Instagram users tend to skew younger and slightly more female. If that’s your base, Instagram could be your starting point. The ad creation process starts with Facebook’s Ad Manager. If you already set up a program on Facebook, you’ll find it easy.

Instagram differs from Facebook because it’s more visual and does not allow shoppable links on individual posts. You have one opportunity to place a link, and it’s in your business bio. (Like Facebook, you must set up a business account or convert a personal account to business use first.)

Tagging drives action on Instagram. You can use topic-related hashtags or geolocation – tagging your location to appeal to local or regional shoppers. A popular tagging tactic is to piggyback on “hashtag holidays” like #NationalPizzaDay.

For selling, you can add shoppable tags (shaped like shopping bags!) like these on posts from Purl Soho:

social media purl soho

Tapping on it reveals the price tag:

social media purl soho 2

Tapping the price tag opens this window, which offers more product details and links to the item on the seller’s website:

social media purl soho 3


Before you start, read through Instagram’s high-level guide to advertising on the network and the finer points of creating ads. Yes, it’s housed on Facebook, but it covers Instagram, which Facebook owns.

3. Pinterest

Audience Profile

How to succeed on Pinterest

If you think of Pinterest mainly as a niche lifestyle site dominated by women sharing recipes, crafts and wedding ideas, it’s time to take another look. Pinterest’s modular layout, which emphasizes visual presentation over copy-heavy posts, and visual search tool transformed the way other visually oriented websites and social networks display their content.

Marketers also saw the sales potential with all the product-rich pins (more than 100 billion pins live on Pinterest). Social platform Hootsuite says, “97% of searches are unbranded, meaning Pinners are open to hearing from brands they haven’t considered before.”

As with other social networks, you need to create a business account before you can take advantage of Pinterest ad options, which include Promoted Pins, ads and a marketing-support program called Pinterest Propel.

Pinterest says more than 80% of its users access the platform via its mobile app. So, when choosing photos and copy, choose a strong image that will look good on a small screen. Create a visually arresting ad that will stand out in your pinner’s network and explains itself in a few carefully chosen, keyword-rich words.

Here’s a promoted pin that appeared in a user’s Home page based on her own pins and pins from people and companies she follows:

social media promoted pins

Pinterest’s mobile app gives merchants the option to post a buyable pin that lets a shopper browse a product and buy it without leaving the app – a big plus for a seamless shopping experience.

1. Shoppers see this pin in their feeds:

social media sporting goods

2. When they click on it, the app takes them to a product page.

social media sporting goods 2

3. Clicking on a product on the results page sends them to a product page where they can add the item to a cart:

social media sporting goods 3

4. And then they can check out, all without leaving the app:

social media sporting goods 4


Read this Pinterest-provided guide before you move on to the ad-creation process.

Final tip before you start

No matter how tempting it might be to invest time and money in social media, you’re still borrowing someone else’s platform to tell your story. Facebook is a prime example of what can happen when the platform owner changes the rules. Those rule changes don’t always benefit the users.

With email, you own the channel and can set the rules within the guidelines of responsible email marketing. You don’t have to wait for customers to find you.

Use social media to extend your reach to customers who haven’t found you through search or email. You might find that it works best as a supplement to your email efforts, generating some sales but also producing a wealth of data you can use to learn more about your customers.

Getting social with ShippingEasy

With ShippingEasy’s Customer Marketing platform, you can manage your customer information, export lists to reach customers with social ads, and maintain those relationships via email. Plus, there is more social functionality being built into the platform, so stay tuned for news on that. Learn everything you can do with Customer Marketing by clicking below!

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Jack Ship