According to Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500 report, the top 500 retailers in the U.S. earned $3.3 billion from social shopping in 2014, a 26 percent increase from the previous year.
Furthermore, data from Statista show that social selling influences more than $30 billion in worldwide sales annually.
These statistics point to a growing trend in social spending, and they are further corroborated by statistics provided by Yotpo that show that online businesses with social presences generate 32 percent more sales than businesses without them.
Social commerce is growing rapidly, and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the impact social media can have on sales. However, many businesses do not have social commerce strategies. Here are four social commerce tips that will guarantee a boost in revenue from your social selling efforts.
Don’t just focus on the big social sites
It’s hard to talk about social commerce without talking about Facebook or any of the other “major” social media sites. Facebook ads are all the rage these days. However, you don’t want to limit yourself by focusing just on the big social sites that every other advertiser is raving about. Look for other growing, or even big but widely ignored, social media sites that allow you to tap into the power of their audience.
For example, while everybody wants to advertise on Facebook, it’s only the fourth-most-effective social site when it comes to average order value. According to a recent study, LinkedIn has the highest order value, at $206.95, followed by StumbleUpon ($177.56) and Kaboodle ($166.17). These sites aren’t even on the list of most social advertisers.
Make retention a core part of your strategy
Since it’s social, it should all be about external actions, right? Not really.
If you really want to make things work, you have to make retention a core part of your strategy. Just take a look at Facebook lately and how it is trying to control everything. With Facebook’s introduction of Instant Articles and other similar options from major social sites, it is obvious that social sites are increasingly trying to keep users on their sites in order to control more ad revenue.
Brands are complaining about finding it increasingly difficult to reach an audience they have carefully cultivated. If you’re worried, you should be—because this is just the beginning of a trend.
In an attempt to increase ad revenue, major social sites will make it more and more difficult to reach an audience you’ve built on their platform, and they will make it increasingly expensive to advertise to this audience. The solution is to be smarter—beat them at their game.
While you promote your brand on social platforms, be sure you’re properly set up to retain the resulting users; use email lists, push notifications, blogs and other technology you have actual control of instead of simply focusing on your “follower” count on social media.
Every day, your “followers” are becoming less of your followers and more of the social sites’ business asset, so it’s time to get smarter.
Incentivize ‘offer sharing’ to increase social sales and engagement
Everyone should take a lesson in marketing strategy from Dropbox’s growth. Dropbox went from 100,000 to 4 million users in 15 months, recording a permanent increase in referral signups by 60 percent, simply by implementing viral referral marketing.
If you really want social commerce to pay off, take a lesson from Dropbox’s page and make sharing your offer a core part of your social commerce strategy. There’s no amount of social promotion that you do that will match up to promotion that your audience does by itself; once followers start to promote and endorse your products, on their own, things will start to seriously take off. According to a report, offers shared by trusted advocates will lead to a four to 10 times increase in conversions compared to offers shared directly by brands.
If possible, incentivize social sharing of your offers. Get people to share your offers and watch your sales soar.
Optimize your mobile shopping experience
It’s a pity that this still has to be said, but your brand can’t afford to ignore the mobile experience.
If we ignore the fact that there are now more mobile-only internet users than desktop-only internet users, we can’t ignore the fact that a whopping 80 percent of Facebook’s revenue comes from mobile users. Couple this with the fact that research shows that 82 percent of smartphone users use their devices to make product decisions and 51 percent eventually purchase from brands they didn’t previously consider, and you suddenly realize that you simply can’t afford to joke with mobile.
Optimizing your mobile shopping experience for social commerce goes beyond just designing a mobile-friendly site; that’s a given, but your strategy must be completely mobile. Your checkout option and payment processor must be mobile-friendly. Your email strategy must be mobile friendly—research shows that 75 percent of emails that aren’t mobile-friendly are deleted—and your product fulfillment option must be mobile-friendly. The last thing you want is angry customers who start requesting refunds and who can do lasting damage to your brand.
This article was originally published at Adweek.com, by author Robert Mening.