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eCommerce Social Media Marketing (BEST Strategies)

eCommerce Social Media Marketing (BEST Strategies)

Social media represents one of the biggest opportunities for business growth in decades – even for eCommerce. These days the opportunity for inbound and outbound marketing across popular social media platforms is very well known.

But what does eCommerce social media marketing mean exactly? And how can business owners get started with building out their brand visibility across popular social media sites? To understand how to build a successful social media marketing strategy for eCommerce, brands and businesses need to understand what sort of channels platforms offer.

For marketers and business owners that are on the fence about their paid media strategy, finding avenues for paid marketing and organic traffic from social media is critical to success in 2020 and beyond. Especially with eCommerce becoming the new normal and the Covid-19 pandemic shifting the way people do normal shopping.

Out of the nearly 4.5 billion internet users in 2019, more than 75% of them used some form of social media. eCommerce sales make up as much as 14.1% of all retail in the world, and that share is expected to increase to 22% within the next 3 years. In fact, eCommerce social media marketing as an overall marketing category is expected to increase an incredible 34% by next year, after already doubling in recent years.

These numbers show why eCommerce and social media are now inseparable and it also shows why building a social media strategy for eCommerce is no longer just “optional” – it’s the new normal.

Here’s how to get started and what to know.

The top social media platforms for eCommerce

While social media continues to grow in reach, there are a few platforms and social apps that stick out in particular. Knowing the most popular platforms can help identify the best social media sites for marketing – which can help businesses discover what’s the best social media strategy for their eCommerce.

The biggest and most important social media platforms for marketing include:

  • Facebook (with more than 2.7 billion monthly users). Plus Facebook’s Messenger app – which is often regarded as a stand alone platform – now has 1.3 billion monthly users.
  • YouTube (with 2 billion monthly users).
  • Instagram (1 billion monthly users).
  • Twitter (330 million monthly users).
  • LinkedIn (310 million monthly users).

Each of these sites offers some sort of advertising model for eCommerce marketers and ways for businesses to generate and manage paid ads across the platform. They all work using the most common type of internet advertising – part of the reason why PPC is so important – plus they also offer a way for creating a social media strategy for eCommerce websites using organic, inbound traffic as well.

Facebook in particularly is huge for marketing, and even for eCommerce it’s a social media marketing opportunity that can’t be ignored – giving access to one of the single largest audiences in the world, and with the ability for eCommerce focused ads across Instagram and Messenger.

LinkedIn’s eCommerce ad types aren’t the same as Facebook/Instagram, but it’s by far the most popular B2B platform and still offers a lot of opportunity for commercial eCommerce growth.

Facebook for eCommerce

First off, do paid Facebook ads really work? Super well in fact; and the platform has continued to focus on new advertising tools specifically for product retail and eCommerce businesses. Facebook is the site with the highest return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) in terms of paid advertising. And it’s by far one of the best channels for social-media eCommerce marketing.

The benefits of advertising on Facebook include its wide range of ad types for retail, its shear dominance, and that it now makes up 1/5th of all digital advertising. Plus it allows audience micro-targeting that’s far more specific than regular search pay-per-click advertising (PPC).

1 in 4 business owners sell through Facebook now, and 70% of consumers search for products they need to buy on Instagram and Facebook. It’s influence is so great that more than half of all online and offline purchases were influenced by Facebook in 2015 – up to 85% now, with an average order value of more than $50.

Plus there’s the wide range of ad types and Facebook shopping advertising tools designed for eCommerce social media marketing:

  • Photo: Static single-image product photos, plus a product description. These are classic, simple ads.
  • Video: Video ads range in terms of length and can be set to appear in-stream, in user feeds, or in Stories.
  • Stories: Stories are customizable ads that take up the whole screen. They can be videos or static images and tapping on Stories ads can be set to have the destination as your eCommerce website (or whatever product landing page you set).
  • Messenger: These ads appear between conversations on the Facebook Messenger App.
  • Carousel: Carousel ads are comprised of up to ten static product images that the user can scroll through – these are specifically suited for eCommerce social media marketing since they give shoppers a way of sliding and tapping through products.
  • Slideshow: These ads show short video-like clips made with motion, sound, and text.
  • Collection: Collection ads showcase multiple products in a single ad, all of which can be individually interacted with by a user. A Social media strategy for an eCommerce website should focus on product-specific ads like these that let brands use photos, video, and different templates to advertise items.
  • Playables: These are interactive demo games that users can preview before they download an app or game.
via Facebook

Instagram for eCommerce

Instagram’s rapidly become one of the most popular social media apps in the world – providing one of the single best steppingstones into mobile eCommerce with continuously expanding shopping ad types and an audience of 1 billion!

It’s important to note, that marketers who are already using Facebook for Business can extend their social media eCommerce marketing plan into Instagram by easily opting in – they both share the same ad network.


It’s practically impossible to grow online without taking advantage of Instagram’s marketing for eCommerce. In the US alone it has a user base of over 112 million people, and of US users about 11% claim to find and shop for products on the app.

Here’s what exactly that means and what the different paid ad types look like:

  • Instagram Shopping Post: One of the main options available for product retail. This add type lets brands and businesses tag their eCommerce product in posts (like how regular users can tag friends). When people click on these tags they’re taken to a product description page within the Instagram app.
  • Stories: These ads are vertically oriented and will appear in between regular user/friend’s stories as a sort of interstitial. eCommerce brands can choose either website traffic or site/app conversions as a goal.
  • Photo Ads & Video: These ads let social media eCommerce marketers showcase products and services with visuals. They also allow you to focus specifically on conversions, store traffic, brand awareness, and 7 other objectives that can help your business expend its eCommerce marketing to a wider audience.
  • Carousel: The carousel ad design allows eCommerce businesses to showcase up to 10 different images or videos within a single ad, providing a sort of album format. These ads can also show up in user feeds as well as in Instagram stories.
  • Collection: This format shows a sort of “instant storefront” for selling 4 or more items at a time, letting brands display multiple product cards, just like carousel ads – but these ads feature a “hero” image. Statista shows that, roughly 18% of people end up purchasing up to five products within a 6-month period after viewing Collections ads.
  • Explore: These ads appear in the Explore page of the Instagram app. Instagram themselves have emphasized the growing importance of the Explore feed for eCommerce saying that they intend to grow business and consumer interaction in this part of the app.
  • IGTV: A new ad type meaning a new location for eCommerce social media marketing. These are much more similar to story ads in that they provide brands an opportunity for fully produced visual media marketing.

Facebook and Instagram “Shops”

Something we mentioned above is the “Shop” tab included in the Explore feed for Instagram.

Facebook/Instagram’s Shop feature allows businesses to set up more complex product listings on their profile. The information and products in a business’s Shop are what appear as ads throughout other areas of the application – including in the Explore tab, Stories, etc. These are heavily focused on providing key eCommerce social media marketing avenues.

An example of a "shop" on the Facebook app

With Shops, brands can choose which items they want to feature, advertising with product collections, and telling their brand story with custom fonts, colors, and of course descriptions. Plus there’s compatibility with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct and more – as well as Facebook partnerships with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics.

This could be a huge opportunity for brands to build out their social media eCommerce marketing plan – and to extend the reach of both their existing social PPC as well as their inbound content.

LinkedIn marketing

The business-to-business marketing opportunities with LinkedIn are already well known – but are less apparent for eCommerce.

However, the influence of a platform like LinkedIn within the “purchase funnel” shouldn’t be downplayed. As many as 53% of buyers list it as the most influential channel in their research process. Not only commercially, but also as a method for building brand recognition and reputation.

For businesses which need to cater to commercial eCommerce clients, retail brands, and business-focused retail customers, then LinkedIn is a no-brainer especially with nearly 700 million users and a range of high-quality ad types.

This means you can find LinkedIn eCommerce options suited for B2B focus, commercial eCommerce, or just direct-to-consumer retail with:

  • Sponsored Content: or ads made with sponsored content that appears in user feeds. These also include other ad sub-types like image ads, video ads, and carousel ads.
  • InMail: or ads that can be sent to individuals directly through LinkedIn’s messenger.
  • Text: which are ads that are based on the pay-per-click ads modeling and look like regular text-based ads, featured in the sidebar.
  • Display: these are sponsored ads that appear on LinkedIn pages.

Remember though, that LinkedIn’s ad targeting options are suited for professional marketing – so discovering and focusing on your right shopping audiences will work differently than with the targeting options for Facebook/Instagram.

Push & pull eCommerce social media marketing

Planning an approach to social media marketing means understanding what makes it different from other common approaches. The two main categories include push vs. pull marketing – and social media offers businesses a way to do both.

In push marketing the goal is to bring your brand or products directly to your customers – more often than not this means paying to get greater visibility (like with PPC). Pull marketing, on the other hand, involves naturally growing organic traffic – usually with content that naturally draws interest in your audience.

eCommerce social media marketing gives brands a way to combine organic traffic and push-based paid advertising. Push marketing (with pay-per-click style ads across top platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.) means getting results a lot faster and driving revenue more quickly. Social platforms hugely impact buying decisions, with 76% of American consumers saying they made purchases after seeing a post from that brand. 39% Of customers say they only trust brands that they have interacted with on social media. And, nearly 9 out of 10 eCommerce shoppers believe that social media helps them make shopping decisions, this means that for brands/businesses the pros of social media marketing are too hard to ignore.

Using both paid and organic can offer you:

  • Fast site traffic growth for a new business or new website
  • Rapid sales for new products and promotions
  • Backlinks growth and increased shares that can grow both organic and referral traffic
  • Increased customer loyalty and interaction with posts
  • Greater content visibility
  • Generation of cash-flow quickly and revenue with a high ROI
  • Helping promote brand recognition when competing against a dominant competitor
  • Increased brand recognition during both short term and long term periods

High-quality content on and off site

The key to a good social media strategy for eCommerce websites hinges on content. Especially since eCommerce sites might struggle to funnel traffic to product landing pages. This means that “top of the funnel” content is key to putting your brand in front of key potential customers.

It’s way harder to generate interest based traffic to a specific product than it is to create good content that catches social interests for a high-level topic or industry concept.

Why is content so important? High-quality content both on site, and across social media platforms is critical to being able to catch people at the top of the funnel and to guiding them toward conversion. This is the core of “inbound” marketing which aims to naturally drive eCommerce traffic by creating interest. Natural interest in high-quality content is the best way of driving shares, likes, and customer/brand interaction on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. – and this means not just better brand visibility, but also better algorithmic performance on social sites.

Plus, there’s also the “multi-channel” benefit of eCommerce social media marketing. App/social content can drive traffic directly to your site with referrals, site-traffic based ad objectives, better SEO performance with back-links, as well as with search traffic via brand awareness.

Why PPC is important

Most product sites and retail businesses already know how social media can drive referral traffic and boost interest organically. That’s the big plus with social media, that it let’s businesses extend the reach of their content and create new, off-site content too.

But PPC is a big part of eCommerce and social media marketing, especially since the pay-per-click model is the most popular style of advertising online. The reason why PPC is important is that it so successful.

PPC social advertising can drive results immediately, making it great for driving eCommerce sales right away (whereas normal social media content can take a very long time to see results). Social commerce ads can also be set-up specifically for business KPIs that matter to eCommerce sites (like site traffic, conversions, ROAS, revenue, etc.). Plus, it offers some of the greatest ROI in all of digital marketing. Plus, there’s a much greater amount of control, especially with the data-rich tools available.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn etc. all offer reporting tools and campaign tools that let eCommerce businesses track their: budget, demographic targeting, ROAS, daily ad-spend, and much more – this data is crucial to being able to not just feedback into other channels, but also to fine-tuning a successful eCommerce social media strategy.

Using your analytics

Analytics is very important. Being able to use feedback and data from visitors and ad campaigns can help businesses improve their eCommerce social media marketing plan – and improve where they focus their efforts for more valuable audiences.

Google Analytics lets brands track traffic through their website and understand how people arrive to their site – with measurements for referral traffic, social, and organic. Ad platforms also offer data reporting tools within the ad management software itself. For Facebook and Instagram there’s “Audience Insights” with aggregate data on people who interact with the brand page along with data on how they interact on the rest of Facebook.

With custom audiences built in to Audience Insights, marketers can then take what they learn and transfer it over to the Facebook/Instagram “Ads Manager” tool.

LinkedIn offers analytics for its campaign manager that lets marketers measure clicks, impressions, average engagement, cost-per-lead (CPL) etc.

Being able to improve an eCommerce strategy means being able to read and analyze data to reduce efforts in low-value areas and to improve spend with high-value audiences.

Learn More

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