Social media is the new e-commerce platform.
Credit: Social media image via Shutterstock
Social media e-commerce has taken off — and it's showing no signs of slowing down. With social media selling, anyone can become an online merchant without having to invest in a website or give online marketplaces a cut of their profits. Here are 10 social media selling solutions to help you get started.
1. Easy Social Shop
Tap into the power of social media and turn Facebook into your online storefront. Easy Social Shop lets small businesses reach customers on the largest social network with a free, customizable "Facebook shop." The service is currently used by more than 100,000 merchants who have increased revenues by an average of 10-18 percent, the company claims. It's also very easy to get started — just install the app and Easy Social Shop will automatically import products from your online store. The service integrates with several major e-commerce platforms, such as Etsy, Shopify, eBay, Magento, Amazon and PrestaShop, making it accessible to most online sellers.
Need another way to sell on Facebook? The Soldsie Facebook app turns the social network's comments section into an e-commerce powerhouse. Typically, customers make purchases on Facebook by messaging sellers or leaving their email addresses. Instead, Soldsie's "Comment Selling" system eliminates all the back-and-forth communication by streamlining transactions. To start selling, connect Soldsie to your Facebook page, and upload product photos. These posts become your storefront, where fans can simply comment "Sold" to make a purchase. After commenting, they'll automatically receive an email invoice and proceed to checkout via PayPal or WePay. ['Buy Button' Could Make Twitter Your New Storefront]
Instagram isn't just a photo-sharing platform; it has also become one of the most popular online selling tools available. inSelly, an Instagram marketplace, facilitates the process by aggregating Instagram listings (using hashtags) and making them searchable to anyone around the world. Because it's a third-party platform, you'll first have to connect the app to your Instagram accounts. Next, add your contact information, pricing details and PayPal email address to start making sales and receiving payments.
Hashbag is another Instagram selling tool that provides a centralized place to showcase Instagram listings. Sellers get their own storefronts on the Hashbag marketplace, while buyers search for items using hashtags. To start listing, first Instagram a photo of your product with the hashtag #forsale. You'll automatically receive an email asking you to log in to Hashbag, where you'll be able to set your price. The listing will then go live, and buyers can start making purchases via PayPal.
The hashtag is the universal language of social media, making it a powerful social selling tool regardless of the platform. Chirpify, a social commerce platform, takes unique campaign hashtags — referred to as "actiontags" — and uses them to enable purchases across multiple social networks. First, customers see the actiontag on social media, print, television and other marketing channels. Next, all they have to do is post the actiontag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to activate a purchase. Chirpify then responds immediately to collect payment and instantly convert sales.
Even if you own an e-commerce website, cross-selling products on social media is a great strategy to boost sales. One service that makes this possible is Beetailer, which lets online merchants import their store into Facebook. After the initial migration, the system is basically hands-free — it requires no installation, configuration or maintenance, and products are automatically updated based on the website's inventory data. Included in the service are marketing tools like campaigns and promotions, detailed analytics, and integration with existing checkout systems.
Designing Facebook page campaigns can seem like rocket science for people who aren't tech savvy. Heyo simplifies the process with a drag-and-drop campaign builder that anyone can use. The service works a lot like do-it-yourself website builders: Start by choosing a template, and then edit or customize elements to fit your campaign and brand. Whether you're running a contest, promotion or special deal, campaigns built on Heyo can then be easily plugged into your Facebook page — no coding necessary.
Automation is key to saving time and money. Fanchimp lets businesses automate Twitter and Facebook selling by enabling them to schedule posts and promotions. Although there are already services that have the same scheduling capabilities (HootSuite, TweetDeck), what makes Fanchimp different is that it connects directly to your online store. Just log in to the system, and you can choose which products to promote, and when to promote them, directly from your inventory. Fanchimp can also set posts to go live at the optimum times and intervals for maximum viewership.
Although Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social selling platforms, there are niche marketplaces that also function as their own social networks. One such marketplace is Poshmark, a website and mobile app for buying and selling fashion. Like on Instagram, sellers first take a photo of each product and post it to Poshmark with the item and pricing details. Customers can also like listings, as well as leave comments and follow sellers. Unlike Instagram, however, customers can make purchases directly through the service via the Buy button. Poshmark takes care of all the back-end processes, so the only thing sellers have to do is ship the item to get paid.
10. Facebook for Business
Facebook for Business is the one-stop shop for finding out which types of Facebook selling campaigns will work best for your business. The service lets you create Facebook pages and purchase Facebook ads, as well as integrate Facebook into your website or mobile app. Facebook for Business helps merchants create buzz, find new customers and drive sales, using one centralized hub. The service also includes analytics tools that provide key insights and measure campaign performance.
11. Pinterest for Business
There's a saying that consumers don't trust brands; they trust their friends. That's essentially the principle behind Pinterest for Business, which lets businesses create Pinterest accounts as a brand. In addition to pinning items just as regular users can, businesses can add the Pin It button wherever their items appear on the Web. For example, e-commerce website Etsy added the Pin It button to each individual listing — when Pinterest users click on the Pin It button, the corresponding Etsy item will be added to their Pinterest boards for their followers to see. These pins include the seller's shop name and pricing information, so viewers know the item is for sale. The idea is to drive traffic, grow followers and ultimately boost sales based on other Pinterest users' recommendations.
Originally published on Business News Daily.