Ecommerce sales continue to surge globally as more consumers opt to shop online. It is predicted that global ecommerce sales will reach an estimated $4.2 trillion in 2021, with U.S. consumers projected to account for close to one-quarter of that spending.
With more consumers joining the online shopping bandwagon, ecommerce marketers are competing for a brand new audience. And that means it is all-hands-on-deck for marketers as competitors are taking advantage of all marketing channels to get the word out about the latest products. One such channel is the ubiquitous time suck in our everyday lives: social media.
Used effectively, social media can be an immensely powerful tool for building brand equity. It plays a role in growing brand awareness, building an audience, connecting with shoppers, and, of course, selling goods. However, there is more to social media than followers and “Likes” on Facebook. Creating a social media presence is an art form that even the most seasoned ecommerce marketers struggle to master.
As your online shop hits high-speed growth and eventually starts continuously scaling, social media turns into a full-time job. As brand trajectory rockets upward, ecommerce merchants find themselves grappling with the idea of outsourcing the valuable yet time-consuming social role.
On one hand, keeping social media management and marketing in-house means a closer connection between brand and customer. You can also count on your brand voice and values being upheld as you have a direct hand in what gets posted (or hiring someone to do the posting for you). With in-house social management, you rarely run the risk of inconsistent posting, disengagement, or counter-brand messaging going out to the world.
On the other hand, though, social media can eat into your time for other things, like running the rest of your business. Outsourcing can be cheaper and more time-effective for you and your team.
Ultimately, this leads us to one big, important question: Should you keep social media in-house or outsource it to an agency?
The Importance of a Social Media Marketing Strategy
When it comes to social media usage, Facebook is leading the way. By 2023, it’s forecasted that 2,023,700,000 people will be using the platform. While massive, this number shouldn’t be a huge shock to ecommerce sellers who’ve kept their nose in the news.
Social media has unrolled a lot of ecommerce-centric updates and features over the past year. Most notably, Facebook has unfurled Shop, Live Shopping, and now the promise of stores being a priority in the Metaverse.
Then, consider the top reasons people use social media in 2021:
- Seeing content for your favorite brands: 22.7%
- Finding inspiration for things to do and buy: 27.7%
- Finding products to purchase: 26.2%
Lastly, combine all of that with the fact that 79% of consumers in the US have purchased something after seeing it advertised or reviewed on social media. What you end up with is a no-brainer truth that ecommerce sellers need to add social media to their marketing playbook.
Combined, popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have more than a billion active users. Many ecommerce marketers will spend a lot of money trying to get their brands in front of audiences across all of these social platforms. And for a good reason: Using social media as a marketing tool is a cost-effective way to promote your brand. Ecommerce marketers can strategically use social media to build brand equity while both attracting online followers and generating online sales.
Crafting an active and approachable presence on social media is an impactful way to share your brand story and mission, resonate in authentic ways with shoppers, and showcase your goods to a broader audience. And with platforms drumming up new tech for selling online, it’s becoming one of the easiest ways for people to cruise through checkout.
However, creating and executing an effective social media strategy takes discipline to regularly engage with your consumers, answer questions, and resolve issues on social media. Leading a community means mediating conversations, staying consistent, and mitigating conflict. This engagement is critical as ecommerce marketers work to generate leads and traffic. Considering roughly seven in 10 Americans use social media, the importance of a social marketing strategy that is engaging, authentic, and relevant is crucial in growing and scaling your ecommerce business.
Why Should You Consider Outsourcing Social Media?
Ecommerce marketers have a couple of options when it comes to social media:
- Keep social media marketing in-house.
- Outsource it to an agency with expertise in creating and executing social media strategies.
Many ecommerce companies opt to keep everything in-house for several reasons, including cost and control. Another added benefit is the ability for companies to speak directly with consumers without an agency acting as a middleman. However, ecommerce companies may not have the expertise or manpower to keep up with the changing trends and evolving social media algorithms. It can be time-consuming and the person or team responsible for managing social media platforms may likely have other job responsibilities.
Agencies with expertise in managing social media can look at any ecommerce company with a wide lens, then use their expertise to your benefit. Many agencies also offer SEO and content services, which will drive your strategy even further by providing you with a team that is dedicated to focusing on your social media platforms. Some other added benefits to outsourcing social media:
- Create quality content
- Create a strategy that aligns social media with company goals
- Consistency with brand messaging
- Identifying an optimal target audience
- Track metrics to better identify KPIs
And most importantly, agencies have in-depth knowledge of industry trends that will undoubtedly keep an ecommerce company ahead of the competition. After all, they’re the experts in this field, just like you’re the expert in your business. Social media agencies are dedicated to always knowing the best practices, hottest trends, and unique tactics for your business.
What’s more is that if numbers aren’t budging after a while or a community starts bleeding members, you can simply choose to part ways and find someone new to help. As great as outsourcing social media might seem, though, risks still remain. Agencies are expensive and you may invest money in a strategy that fails to perform. That’s why it’s critical that you thoroughly vet potential agencies to handle social media. The agency selected is one a marketer must trust to handle the voice of their company, and be sure to get referrals and read reviews. It’s also a huge bonus if the agency you’re eyeing has experience specifically with similar brands and saw success with those.
Brands That Are Crushing the Social Media Game
If you’re on the hunt for some inspiration for what’s possible when it comes to social media and selling your products, we picked out some of our favorite accounts. Here are some prime examples of social media rockstars. Whether they’re using in-house teams or an outsourced digital agency, these are examples that demonstrate what any brand, big or small, can do to engage with audiences.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
This first example isn’t a traditional ecommerce brand. It’s true that Kentucky Fried Chicken isn’t a direct-to-consumer brand with many goods you can buy online, but there’s a reason the finger-lickin’ company made this list. First, the company sells more than buckets of chicken. KFC sells lots of great attention-garnering
products for fans, like these fried chicken-scented firelogs or this “finger lickin’ chicken mitten bucket hugger.” And social media is one way for the brand to sling these wares and boost its fandom.
We also like this example because it shows that KFC is connected and paying attention to holiday crazes like Ffriendsgiving” where in lieu of family, groups of friends gather ‘round and eat loads of food around Thanksgiving. This post shows that the brand is fun, quirky, and is appealing to the food-loving Friendsgiving crowd with its own take called “Friedsgiving.” It’s clever and endearing, and all of that is portrayed in this one li’l tweet.
While KFC has amassed a following of 1.5 million people, this next example has a more modest following of just under 5,000. Fellow Barber is a brand on a mission to create a new barbering subculture, raise overall barbering wages nationwide, and make new jobs. Along with brick-and-mortar shops in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Fellow Barber also sells its proprietary grooming products online.
With deep values and lofty aspirations, this brand embodies what it means to use social media to tout it all, connect authentically with people, and spread awareness to sell more products. The tweet featured here not only handsomely showcases the personality and some products offered by Fellow, but it also showcases its event to give back to frontline workers with what they do best—haircuts! It’s a great example of a smaller brand making a big impact on social.
With more than 10,000 followers, Solo Stove has a decent reach. This example made its way onto this list because it’s using social media in one of the smartest, cheapest, and most engaging ways possible—reusing customer-made content. Solo Stove makes and sells unique bonfire pits that are sleek in design and efficient in output. The airflow of these stainless steel tanks makes watching the ensuing flames mesmerizing—and there’s nothing a Solo Stove owner loves to do more than record how soothing a sit around the pit can be.
Solo Stove has loads of retweeted content that they didn’t spend a dime creating. Not only that, but these videos and photos of these stoves in action are almost always accompanied by praise and stellar reviews. This is a smart move by this brand, and is just one of many ways you can use social media to your advantage.
No Matter What You Choose, Stay Connected with Social Media
Whether you choose to outsource social media or keep it in-house, one thing remains true: social media is here to stay, and ecommerce marketers should always stay connected and weave it into their strategy.
Social media allows ecommerce companies an opportunity to connect with consumers while building brand awareness. Many platforms offer affordable options to promote brands and products. While keeping social media in-house gives you control to connect directly with consumers, you may fall behind on the latest trends or get bogged down as you scale. If you decide to outsource social media, be sure to do your homework when selecting an agency and don’t be afraid to part ways if it’s not a good match.
Want to hear more? Watch The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media from our expert panel during Route Connect 2021