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July 23, 2015

Anna Ruth Williams


Chief Growth Officer

This article originally appeared in the Hypepotamus.

Open your phone (no really, open your phone), go to Instagram and chances are you’re following one or more of your favorite Internet retail brands. Mine is GoJane and BirchBox. Earlier this year AdWeek revealed that 91% of retail brands use two or more social media channels – and for good reason. Here in Atlanta, popular retail sites such as, and have all launched to success with the help of robust social media strategies. While the majority of retailers operate social media channels, many aren’t using them effectively to drive sales, nor are they aware of the constantly evolving changes to these sites, which can amplify conversions. Let’s walk through the benefits of social media on ecommerce sales, and how to implement best practices.

Social Holds More Influence

Word-of-mouth marketing is more authentic than traditional forms of advertising because of its authenticity. In fact, Nielsen found that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all forms of advertising, and 70% trust online consumer reviews – including those from people they’ve never met. For Internet retailers, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide an opportunity to have greater control over these reviews.

To-do: If a customer leaves a positive remark, share it! Re-tweet it! Post it to your site! If a customer leaves a negative remark, you have a better opportunity to address, control and fix the concern, making a retail brand even more appealing, as potential buyers see superior customer service.

Not only do consumer social media posts hold influence, but so do branded posts. In fact, Epsilon found that retailers’ social network posts and pages have a 35% influence on purchases, and their social media usage is 6% more influential than coupons, which leads me to my second point…

Social Drives More Traffic

BI Intelligence took on the task of determining the quantitative impact of social media in ecommerce sales and found that social media has some serious site referral power. From Q1 2014 to Q1 2015, social media ecommerce referrals increased by 200%. Are you surprised? Those referrals won’t just come overnight, however. Your social media channels should be treated just as delicately as an online retailer’s site. Just like a well-functioning website, social media sites need to be visually appealing, compelling and updated frequently with new content (and products) to motivate a purchase. An optimal social media presence requires a few tasks and on-going management.

To-do: Make sure your social sites represent your actual ecommerce website. Think of it as an extension of your website. Messaging, photos, and products should all be reflective of your website for uniformity.

To-do: Make a content calendar to ensure your posts are diversified and cover a range of categories (educational, promotional, lifestyle, etc.) as well as seasonality, sales, and popular promotions.

To-do: Make it easy for buyers to easily navigate to your website for purchase by including links directly to product pages in your post. Even better, make sure you’re putting images of products in posts. Statistics say Tweets with images are 94% more likely to get retweeted, and 89% more likely to get favorited over tweets without images.

To-do: Try social advertising. Even with a low budget set, Twitter and Facebook provide very targeted advertising options that will help online retailers reach their most prospective buyers.

Meet The “Buy” Button

In the last few months, Pinterest and Instagram have joined Facebook and Twitter’s “Buy” button bandwagon. With “buy” buttons, social media channels are turning themselves into marketplaces, allowing consumers to purchase directly from retailers without having to navigate away from the social site. This becomes a win/win for all: retailers make a quick sale, consumers make quick and easy purchases, and the social network keeps its users on its channel. Notice, however, the e-tailer’s site is missing from this equation. With the Top 4 social networking sites all joining this online commerce movement, ecommerce sites could ultimately become obsolete one day.

While the future of the “Buy” button’s impact on ecommerce is uncertain, one thing is sure – social media’s influence on e-tail is not going away anytime soon. So, embrace social media, use it effectively and then watch those conversions rise.