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While the primary function of social media is to build and nurture relationships, focus on customer retention, and extend your brand awareness, when done right, social media can also be a great avenue for boosting your online sales. With the sales process taking place online more so than in person now more than ever, and social selling constantly gaining in popularity, more and more business owners are wanting to jump on the social selling bandwagon, so to speak.

While selling via your social media channels may seem like a fairly straight forward process, there is a certain approach you need to take in order to maximize on this ever growing trend, while not distracting from the core purpose of social media. Lets dive in and discuss a few strategies you can begin implementing now that will help you both grow your online community and boost online sales using social media at the same time:

Encourage Social Reviews

Your success on social media depends much less on how much you talk about yourself, and much more on how much your customers talk about you. Customers will be much more inclined to do business with you after reading a review or experience from another customer about your business or a product you sell. Consider these stats for a moment to understand the importance of online reviews:

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with "excellent" reviews
  • 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 92% of users will use a local business if it has at least a 4 stair rating
  • 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review

There are many ways to encourage social reviews. You can simply ask your fans to leave you reviews on Facebook, you can send out an email newsletter with a link back to Facebook, Yelp, Google, or your reviews page of your choosing, if you send out invoices, you can use that as an opportunity to ask for a review, or there is plenty of software out there to assist with asking for reviews after a purchase has been made, such as Yotpo, TurnTo, Feefo, and ReviewTrackers. Whichever way you go, make sure you are sharing the best of the best reviews with your fans and followers on social media!

Make It Easy For Customers To Buy On Your Social Channels

When you're in the store shopping, you probably find yourself making a lot of impulse buys, whether they're big or small. That's always a problem that has plagued the e-commerce industry, but adding buy buttons to your social channels helps bridge that gap a bit. Having a buy button on your social channels remove steps customers need to take in order to make a purchase from you, steps they may not be willing to take. They may see a post with a product of yours they love, then see that buy button, and the impulse buy moment kicks in, which probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for that (free) buy button. Here is an example of a Twitter buy button from Social Media Examiner:

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As well as a Pinterest buy button:

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With directions on how to implement them also available on the same link. As you can see, they are not obtrusive at all, but they help businesses secure purchases from their customers with a single click, which is a process that would otherwise take multiple steps. While on the topic of buttons, while unrelated to the buy buttons, it would also be a wise decision to add social sharing buttons to your website for visitors to easily share your content, which increases chances of new likes and engagement.

Curate User-Generated Content

Are you familiar with user-generated content? If not, here is a definition from TINT: "user-generated content is defined as any type of content that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors or, using a better term, fans. It can refer to pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, and everything in between and is the act of users promoting a brand rather than the brand itself." User-generated content can be quite powerful. According to Business Insider, consumers who interact with user-generated content are a whopping 97% more likely to convert than customers who do not, and brands see a 78% increase in conversions when customers interact with user-generated content.

Yotpo provides a couple of examples of user-generated content campaigns that were extremely successful, including the Lay's "Do Us A Flavor" campaign, which was blasted all over traditional and digital media, inviting customers to invent their own potato chip flavors and then fans could vote on those flavors:

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And Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign, where the company created personalized Coke bottles with names and nicknames on them, encouraging customers to share a coke with someone and post pictures on social media using the hashtag #shareacoke, which was also on every bottle. The campaign was a major success, as it promoted positivity and created an organic platform for people to get involved.

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Run Flash Sales & Offer Online Coupons

Who doesn't love a bargain? Running a limited-time bargain specifically for online customers is a great way not only to create excitement, but also to boost traffic to your website and sales. You can announce the flash sale on your social media channels and run it for a short period of time, and let your followers know you will be periodically doing this, which will keep them coming back to your pages time and time again looking for an update, as they know they won't be able to find out about this flash sale on your website on via email. Just one thing to keep in mind - if you have a pretty significant following on social media, make sure your website is capable of handling a sudden influx of traffic, as the last thing you want to do is end up with your website going down in the middle of your sale!

The idea with a flash sale is to offer a bargain and save customers some money. The same idea applies to online coupons. All customers have a desire to save money whenever they can. You can choose to offer coupons to only those who have, for example, liked you on Facebook or followed you on Twitter. This is a great way to build your follower base and increase the number of customers you have, as well as engage with customers who haven't purchased from you in awhile. Rignite offers suggestions on coupon offers you can run, including weekly/monthly offers, pre-launch offers, holiday offers, volume offers, influencer offers, and customer loyalty offers.

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Run A Launchrock Campaign

Looking for a way to collect email addresses to use for marketing? Launchrock is the way to go. Launchrock is a free service where you are able to collect email addresses in exchange for giving people early access to an app or service you may be releasing, or really anything else in the beta stages. You are able to completely customize your Launchrock widget to fit your marketing campaign and then embed it within your website. It's very easy to go viral with Launchrock because of it's social capabilities, because after someone enters their email address, they are shown social sharing buttons.

Shopify recommends including a powerful incentive to encourage people to share your promotion by saying they can increase their chances of winning whatever prize you may be giving away (you'll get more entries if there is a give-a-way included with the beta release to encourage people to enter their email) by inviting their friends or if they get 3 friends to join, everyone gets a chance to win the bonus prize. This increases the share rate and the number of people who get exposed to your promotion, thus increasing the chances of it going viral, and helping you collect more email addresses to use for marketing purposes. Here is an example Launchrock page in case you haven't seen one before:

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