Ecommerce vendors attempting to keep up with a litany of challenges in practical, technical, and non-tangible realms share a common objective: attracting attention and acquiring customers. Seasoned veterans have adapted organically, watching trends unfold over time. Newcomers scramble to digest a flux of information in a cost-effective manner, hoping to make investments that count.
This third in a series of blog entries establishes the importance of social media behemoth Facebook as a compelling place to market your goods. As with everything, there are pluses and minuses, and everything in-between.
With that out of the way, there is no discussion of advertising in 2019 that does not begin with Facebook. The giant of social media platforms is entering its 12th year as a pastime for a general audience, having started as a fun and easy way to connect with college classmates. Its exponential growth has myriad explanations, and one of them makes Facebook an utterly irresistible place to throw your ad dollars.
It’s called domination.
Monopoly may be too strong a word, but the US Department of Justice is targeting the California-based firm for anti-trust violations. It’s a familiar tune with Facebook stockholders; governments have come after Mark Zuckerberg’s company before and collected big fines. It’s also not news to those in the know. Zuckerberg faced protracted, high-profile litigation when he was accused of appropriating the idea earlier this century from a pair of twin brothers, and was forced to pay them handsomely in a landmark civil settlement.
How the granddaddy of all social media platforms may be your best advertising bet
Whether you’re a seasoned, high-volume ecommerce vendor, or a rookie who’s just starting out, chances are you will devote a significant amount of time toward mapping out an advertising strategy that hits the right balance of effectiveness and affordability. Visual advertising is the go-to for ecommerce; unlike other business models, consumers have little chance of finding you in the traditional ways. Social media—the center of all ecommerce, for obvious reasons—is the most effective method of moving your merchandise.
The name recognition of Facebook is practically indisputable. Though it’s a mix of positive and negative, it seems to be the cyber gathering spot they just can’t quit. With an estimated 2.4 billion active users worldwide, there is little doubt it will be a big draw for small- and mid-sized vendor companies for the foreseeable future.
We’ve already covered the recent shift in ad mechanics Facebook is imposing: The Incredible Shrinking Ad Size. Some businesses aren’t terribly concerned; others fear their strongest attribute to product depiction is its photographs, and if those are scaling down, it may decrease interest among potential customers.
But if the social media giant is still your favorite target for ad dollars, or if you’re still on the fence, here are some relative stats, and ways you can make the platform work for you. The essential difference between Google Ads and Facebook ads are searching vs. direct hits. Paid searches help customers find your site, while paid social advertising hopes to rope in new customers based on a specific product.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but words are powerful, and changes that hit the Facebook platform may be painful.
So say analysts reviewing new policies freshly implemented by the behemoth of all social media, and it could be a gigantic headache for those who write ad copy.
This shift in ad sizes was announced at a recent F8 conference, but the company has been somewhat stealth with respect to public information. Ad revenue is their bread and butter, naturally. And with more than 2 billion worldwide users, they are sharply focused on building a venue for paid advertisers, often at the expense of user experience. Nonetheless, the company continues to tweak its advertising options.
Here’s what’s happening: Facebook feed ads viewed in mobile mode (and let’s face it, few are using full-size computers these days) are shrinking. These “creative restrictions” make the image size and the amount of text smaller, with images reduced to a 4:5 aspect ratio from the current 2:3. Along with that is a text reduction from seven sentences to three – a tremendous drop by any measure.
Prioritizing ad copy words
Though users will be able to access more lines by clicking a “see more” link, the game is now changed. As anyone who has written for limited space platforms knows, the visible text is critical for engagement, and if that text is cut in less than half, it will be more important than ever to employ an economy of words with the most benefit.
With mobile devices already small in scale, that means even a typical one-liner with an inducement – the bread and butter of marketing lead-ins – won’t fit. And that hurts.
Beyond the written word, you’ll be dealing with a shrinking graphical allotment. This will require image redesigns, along with the judgment call on how small to make your overlay text.
The good news is that Facebook prepped for this sea change, perhaps to quell the tide of resistance. Their Video Creation Kit tool allows for a semi-automated process to make it easier through scaled image resizing. The kit also offers more templates that ostensibly provide flexibility to accommodate this curtailed space issue.
There are 2.7 billion people that utilize social media through various channels, connecting them like-minded users and business based on their interests. For businesses, it has become an essential tool in the way they communicate to their consumers. Everything to the images you choose to the captions you write determine a specific tone and voice that is talking to you followers. You have to have a clear, concise vision when it comes to your social media strategy.
Using social media for business differs greatly from using it for personal usage; every post has a strategic push behind it. So, here are a couple of useful strategies to implement in your social media marketing.
Identifying Industry-Specific Hashtags
Hashtags help draw users that do not follow to your page. It is very important to identify popular hashtags that are used in your sector to maximize your overall reach. This is what helps your post land on someone’s explore page or search results easier if they are looking for content similar to yours. It is important not to overuse hashtags that are too board and general so it can reach your target niche audience.
Create a Constant Brand Voice
It is important that your brand voice is the same on all your platforms. You want all your pages to sound like the same person, now three different people. Lay out a clear guideline on specific vocabulary and style that matches your brand aesthetic or vision. Brand voice is what connects you on a personal level to your audience and it is important to maintain a true, authentic tone that forms a relationship with users.
Even if you are sworn to avoid being swallowed by the social media craze that consumes an inordinate amount of time and energy from a growing number of everyday people, you are a de facto participant if you run an ecommerce business. At the outset of Facebook’s transition from strictly a college kids’ platform to a worldwide social gathering place, few took it seriously enough to consider investing in marketing there. After all, it’s primarily for catching up with high school friends, developing a love life, and commiserating with fellow NFL fans when your team is on a downslide. Right?
Not anymore. Like any other viral entity, Facebook and other social media venues have fine-tuned the art of pitching to businesses. Meet Facebook Analytics, a handy tool provided by the social media platform that crunches data to specifically introduce you to interested parties by way of measuring visitor activity on your page.
The bad news first. Recently Facebook began limiting its “Audience Insight” feature with a new algorithm that restricts this data to users who have liked your page. It’s an unfortunate move in that it delineates potential followers and customers. This privacy-driven decision goes hand in hand with the company’s response to regulatory and consumer discontent. Rolling out Facebook Ads was a big step for the company, albeit to the dismay of many users hoping to escape incessant commercial advertising. But like you, they need revenues, and business owners should look seriously into the unique opportunity they present.
The ability to narrow ad targets to an appropriate audience is huge. You sell a line of hipster cosmetics for young’ns, so why waste your time placing ads on the news feeds of men in their 60s? Unless your role is to advertise jobs or housing, and you were caught up in the very recent debacle in which Facebook is facing charges by Federal authorities for suborning discrimination through demographic targeting (another story altogether), you’re free to select an audience most likely to warm to your goods.
Yet aside from advertising—or rather to supplement it—your Facebook page itself can yield important information that helps refine product offerings, gauge interest, and stay atop of a marketing plan that works.
Just when you thought social media was on the verge of being tapped out on its aptitude for ecommerce vendors, Google is out with a fabulous new feature that makes shopping fun for consumers and fruitful for those of you who hawk wares online.
The “Shoppable Ads” feature is linked to search results from Google. In a Pinterest-style formatting feature, the commerce giant is rolling out a shoppable screen that allows sellers to tag multiple products on each ad. Mousing over a product reveals its price and brand.
Not intrigued yet? You should be. Young shoppers, especially, are keen on the Pinteresting layout of Pinterest, and the ability to move quickly from a visual image to information on what the product is, where to buy it, and how much it costs.
As brick-and-mortar stores continue to collapse into bankruptcy, leaving blighted, empty buildings, there is a lesson to be learned from each.
Their customers trusted them.
Big-time retailers Kmart and Sears, now jointly owned, still has loyal fans who are eagerly following the roller coaster ride of their dismal-yet-uncertain fate.
If you are an ecommerce vendor, it’s imperative that you study and reflect on the way these conventional stores captured trust and converted it into continuing revenues. Mirroring their marketing tactics, which usually include special sales, coupons, and notable customer service policies, can set you up to become an internet fave – if you play your cards right.
In the ecommerce universe, that means generating “micro-conversions,” or turning initial signs of interest into an established consumer relationship.
Focus first on these obvious, easily implemented strategies:
Seeing a path to better revenues, and being a better business
By now every growing e-commerce entity has figured out the critical role social media plays in their business. It’s become a household pastime; a venue for people from all demographics who are connecting with the world through computers and devices.
The opportunities for marketing and branding are rich. And increasingly, the picture has become much rosier. Research conducted in 2018 showed that social media users made their most recent purchase directly through Facebook and their eBay Daily Deals. Facebook ran away with the biggest share of the pie, with Instagram coming in a close second.
Yet there is a demographic often left in the dust; one thought to be unable – disabled, as it were – to use social media.
That has changed. With technological developments in connectivity have come celebrated advances in bringing the Internet to people with varying degrees and types of disabilities. There are nearly 60 million of them in the U.S., and that number will grow as they age. They are players. They are shoppers. And they can be your best customers if given the chance.
Seeing Progress and Profits: Instagram Adds Feature to Aid the Visually ImpaireD
Accessibility. It’s not just an accommodation. It’s an underrated boon for business.
Social media app Instagram is keenly aware, and on the job. With the introduction of new features that simplify their site for visually impaired users, they join other big players in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, in expanding inclusivity.
How does this impact ecommerce merchants? The shopping public is reflective of overall demographics. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least 3 percent of all Americans aged 16 to 75 experience some level of significant visual impairment. That’s more than 7 million people.
Wouldn’t you like to make sure your goods and services are available to as many potential buyers as possible? Instagram thinks so.
Here’s how it works: Programmers employ object recognition technology to produce descriptions of images for screen readers, making it possible to actually hear lists of items contained in photos as you scroll through them. The feature operates when Feed, Explore, and Profile pages are accessed.
It’s easy to get stuck following the same tactics in social media marketing, particularly if one strategy has been lucrative or has grown your business exponentially. Amazingly, though, many social media “gurus” continue with campaigns that aren’t bringing in revenue.
While it’s important to keep up-to-date with new strategies and evolving techniques, it’s also important to ditch so-called “best practices” that aren’t delivering. Sometimes, it’s what you don’t do that contributes as much to your success as what you do do.