Social media is a great way for online businesses to reach new people, encourage holiday purchases, and build customer trust and loyalty even after the season has faded. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Many of us know what it feels like to spend time and energy crafting a social media post, only to have it fade quietly away with nothing but a few likes and nary a comment in sight. Or perhaps you’ve been working on your social media all year, but you have no business growth to show for it.
You’d be forgiven for wondering if there’s magic involved in doing this successfully.
Well, there is a formula, but it doesn’t require any magic. It’s more about building a stable social media presence that will work for you year round, and then making specific tweaks during the holiday season. We’ll discuss how to do both in today’s Holiday Workshop. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
1. Carve out your space in social, and create a content strategy you can stick to
2. Learn techniques to attract and sustain interest
3. Optimize your use of links
4. Experiment with ads on social media
5. Study results and adjust accordingly
Step 1) Carve out your space in social, and create a content strategy you can stick to
Contrary to what statistics such as ‘follower counts’ would have you believe, the main focus of your social media should not be the sheer number of people following you. Your goal should be to reach and retain people who are genuinely interested in your business’s niche. These are the people who are most likely to purchase, most likely to remain loyal customers after the holidays, and most likely to tell others about your business or brand. Your following can grow organically from there.
Big picture planning
Start by putting yourself in your follower’s shoes. What would you find most engaging about your business? What types of content would you want to see from your business on a regular basis, and during the holidays? What kinds of posts would you find boring, or overly-salesy?
Driving traffic to your business through social media is different from a lot of traditional advertising — it requires a slow-burning strategy. If you provide content that people appreciate even when they’re not actively shopping, they will be more likely to continue following you, develop loyalty and/or trust in your brand, and think of you the next time they are looking to buy.
As an example, let’s say you sell rare coins. You could present your brand on social media as “The Coin Guru.” Your social media strategy could be regularly sharing appealing pictures of coins you sell, along with fun or interesting facts about the coins in the captions. Passionate collectors may not purchase every time you post, but they will enjoy the extra knowledge you’re sharing in the caption. By learning from your posts, there is an increased likelihood they will think of you the next time they’re coin shopping, making a recommendation to a friend, or have a question.
Now let’s consider a different business – a physical restaurant that uses their ecommerce store to sell and ship their homemade line of hot sauces. A repetitive social media posting strategy like the coin collector example might not work as well here, as the restaurant has a limited amount of sauces and dishes. Instead, the restaurant could spice things up (see what we did there?) by curating a mix of content that foodies will find interesting, like:
- Behind-the-scenes tours showing how they source their sauce ingredients
- Recipe ideas to use with their sauces (how about some Thanksgiving dishes during November?)
- Food-related quotes or memes
- 'Meet the Staff' posts
In this example, the only limit is their imagination, so long as posts fit into the overall image of their brand. Brainstorming creative ways to entertain and appeal to people online can be one of the most fun parts of social media!
Hone your imagery and your voice
Once you’ve settled on a consistent content strategy that you can stick to, you’ll also want to do some planning regarding your visual style and your copywriting style.
Quality, high-resolution images go a long way towards drawing people into your posts, so don’t neglect this aspect of your social media. Many of the tips in our previous Holiday Workshop article, "Perfecting Your Item Images," can be applied to more than just item images – like if you were sharing a photo of your business’s workspace, for example.
- An interesting exception to this ‘high quality images’ rule is when you re-share a photo that someone else has posted regarding your business. With these kinds of ‘social proof’ posts, it’s more about the authenticity of the situation than the quality of the image, so you usually don’t need to worry in that case.
Color, mood, and composition are also learnable and fun techniques to practice in your social media imagery. These traits help your brand stand out amongst the crowd and subconsciously help viewers decide how they feel about you. This guest blog from Instasize is a great read on the power of intentional color choices. There are also countless resources like guides and tutorials available online, and powerful image editing software is more accessible than ever (check out our previous Holiday Workshop article for some software suggestions).
Similar principles apply when it comes to writing the captions for your posts. Develop an intentional voice and stick to it. Will your business use humor to reach people? Interesting facts, or perhaps inspiring ideals? To a follower who has never met you, your words will be one of the most important ways that they get to know you and your brand.
Keep in mind the fast-paced, scroll-able nature of social media. Your image and first sentence must draw the reader in. Strive to get your point across quickly and succinctly. Longer captions can be good if they’re adding value.
Pro tip: Study businesses and brands that you admire to learn how they are endearing themselves to their followers.
Step 2) Learn techniques to attract and sustain interest
So you’ve decided how to position your business on social media and you’re consistently creating quality posts. Now how do you ensure people find them?
There are strategies for attracting people to your posts that work on most, if not all, social media platforms, such as a caption that encourages people to share your post with their friends. Example: “Tag another coin collector who needs to see this!” It also doesn’t take much to tweak these types of strategies for the holidays: “We’re hosting a holiday giveaway! Tag 2 friends to be entered in the giveaway.”
Then there are techniques that work best on certain platforms, like #hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. There are also particular traits that make a social media platform’s algorithm more likely to show your post to people, and these tend to change over time.
With all this in mind, you’ll want to periodically research the current best practices for the platforms you’re using. You can search “2019 Instagram Hashtag Guide” and find a wealth of advice on how to make the most of hashtags on Instagram today, for instance.
We also recommend learning about the marketplace tools available to help with self-promotion. Bonanza enables you to create custom coupon codes that shoppers can input to receive a discount. You could make holiday-themed coupons this season, and in the long term, entice and reward followers by giving them early access to coupon codes in your posts.
Again, it’s beneficial to get in the habit of studying what other businesses do to increase engagement with their posts on the same platforms you’re using. Be sure to balance this with a dose of creativity, though. If we all followed what everyone else was doing all the time, social media would become one giant echo chamber. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with your own ways of attracting attention to your posts, too!
Step 3) Optimize your use of links
At this point, you might be thinking, “OK, but how do I turn all this attention into sales?” Great question!
Social media is your golden opportunity to direct people straight to your product or service using links. When it comes to convincing people to actually click on those links and complete a purchase, however, there are a few nuances.
Determine the best way to share links on your social media platforms of choice. For example, Instagram only lets you share one clickable link, and it is contained within your bio. (The one exception being if you have over 10,000 followers – in that case you can share links through Stories, too). You can update your bio link frequently in accordance with your business’s social media strategy. If your post of the day is about a particular item, you could change your bio link to go directly to that item in your store, and mention ‘link to shop in bio’ in the caption.
Bonanza has linking options, too. Brainstorm how they might be useful in your social media strategy. For instance, there is a shortcut on item listing pages that lets you share your item direct to social media:
Bonanza can also create a custom ‘referral link’ for you that is unique to your business. If someone arrives at your items by clicking a URL that contains this referral link, and then they complete a purchase from you, you pay zero listing fees on the sale. Therefore, it’s smart to incorporate your referral link into your posts on social media when appropriate.
- Did you know? This custom ‘referral link’ is one of the 3 ways you can make commission-free sales on Bonanza. Brainstorm how you can work these into your social media strategy.
Last but not least: when providing a link, make sure it meets the viewer’s expectations. If your social media caption says that the link goes to a particular item, but it actually leads to your main booth page and the shopper has to search around your booth, they are less likely to complete their purchase. In a similar vein, ensure that your booth details, contact information, and store policies are filled out and up-to-date. This helps build trust and answer common customer questions ahead of time.
Step 4) Experiment with ads on social media
Social media advertising may seem complicated, but it’s actually become very accessible in recent years. All of the major social media platforms offer built-in advertising options that you coordinate using your account, and they are customizable in terms of price, style, target audience, and reach. The cost of advertising this way will vary based on your target audience, the effectiveness of your ad’s design, and the amount of competition from other advertisers in your target market. However, the average cost is low enough that many find it worth experimenting with – especially during the holiday season, when people are more likely to be in a ‘buy’ mindset. You’ll find all the information you need to get started by searching online for your particular platform.
Another unique aspect of advertising on social media is that these platforms have access to data about their users, enabling them to show your ads only to specific demographics you believe you will be most interested in your business. This can be a much more targeted and cost-effective approach than, say, paying for an ad on the side of a bus.
A related option to consider is setting up Facebook Remarketing with a Bonanza membership (it is available at the Platinum and Titan membership levels). Facebook Remarketing allows you to reach Facebook users after they’ve visited your Bonanza booth, added your items to their wishlist or cart, and more. This is an ideal way to reach people who were initially interested in your items, but didn’t complete their purchase at the time.
- Did you know? Traffic brought to your Bonanza booth via Facebook Remarketing is considered direct shopping traffic. You will pay the lowest possible fee (a mere 3.5% for items under $500) on items sold via direct shopping traffic.
Step 5) Study results and adjust accordingly
Remember to treat social media for your business as a marathon, not a sprint. It might take a while to hone your social media to the point where you have a committed following that is generating sales year round. Having said that, it’s better to start now than later. You can also speed up the process by analyzing the results of your posts over time, and making adjustments to your strategy accordingly.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Make note of what people are responding best to, and do more of that. This goes for all aspects of your social media, including traits like your copywriting style, hashtags, photography, illustrations, time of day you shared the post, etc.
- Trying a new promotional strategy, like a holiday giveaway? Take time to analyze the results after, and reflect on what you might do different next time.
- There are a variety of ways to shorten or customize clumsy-looking links so that they perform better on social media. Search online for “link shortener”. Some of these also offer the ability to track stats like how often and when a link is clicked – a helpful gauge for measuring what’s working and what’s not.
- Consider investing in social media account manager software. For a monthly fee, you get access to in-depth statistics about the performance of your posts, and the ability to schedule posts in advance. Many people find this makes it easier to post consistently and frequently.
Time to take your social media further
As you can see, you don’t need magic or luck to be successful on social media during the holiday season and beyond. With strategy and consistency, you’ll be driving more traffic to your online business in no time!