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Did you know that 1.55 billion people currently use Facebook at least once a month? That’s 20% of the world’s population! It should not be a secret, then, that social media is an excellent way to reach a wide audience. The average American checks his or her social media accounts 17 times a day, an astounding number considering that Americans are typically only awake for 15 hours per day. Social media has become a huge part of our lives, and marketers are taking advantage of this new platform. Currently 9% of a company’s marketing budget goes to social media. That figure is expected to increase to 22% within the next 5 years. Here’s how your ecommerce site can turn social posts into sales.

Segment Your Audience Better

Brick-and-mortar stores may have the advantage of face-to-face contact with their customers, but this isn’t slowing ecommerce sites down. Experts predict that in 2015, Americans will spend $349.06 billion on ecommerce sites. How are ecommerce sites achieving such massive success? By knowing their audiences and targeting them based on preferences.

Social media is extremely helpful when it comes to learning more about your audience’s passions and interests. Tools such as Hootsuite and Hubspot can help you with social listening, which not only helps you keep track of your own social media presence, but what’s going on in the Twittersphere. These tools can help you find out what your competition is up to, what your customers are talking about, and how they perceive you. Another great tool that will help you learn more about your audience is the Facebook Audience Insight. This tool not only lets you see people’s interests, but has demographic information that will enhance your overall marketing strategy.

Select Platforms with Care

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of thousands of different social media platforms on the internet. Some are forgotten like MySpace and others are stronger than ever, like Instagram. Just as you should not advertise to absolutely everyone, your ecommerce business should not be on every social network. This will spread your social media marketers too thin.

Instead, focus on the core platforms that your target audience can be found on. For example, if your main audience are mothers between the ages of 30 and 45, Pinterest would be an excellent way to reach potential customers. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are just the start. If your product is part of a niche market, there are hundreds of social sites devoted to exactly what your customer is interested in. Once you select the platforms you’re on, be sure to include social sharing buttons on your product pages so that friends of customers may be enticed to become customers too.

Improve your Customer Service

We are a generation of instant gratification, and the immediacy of social media appeals to people. Countless consumers have taken to Twitter to complain instead of calling the customer help line. People want a solution to their problem and they want it immediately, if not sooner. Be sure to have someone who is constantly watching your social networks to spot and remedy unhappy customer experiences. Apologize to disgruntled customers on your feed, then take the conversation and solution to a private inbox. Providing excellent and prompt service will decrease the likelihood of that customer posting negative remarks about your brand on their feed. Remember that the internet is a powerful creature, and a post that seems harmless can go viral without a moment’s notice, creating negative buzz about your brand.

Use Hashtags with Caution

If your company isn’t using hashtags in your posts, you need to step your game up. Hashtags are not only a great way to increase exposure and organize your content, but posts with hashtags get twice the amount of engagement. The optimal amount of hashtags to use in one post is 2 to 3, and only use them on Twitter and Instagram. Did you know that Facebook posts with hashtags have less engagement than posts without them? To avoid looking like a rookie, skip the Facebook hashtag. There are many different tools that help find the right hashtags to use in your posts. We suggest checking out what industry influencers are using or see what’s trending on Twitter. Pro tip: always check the intent of the hashtag to avoid joining a conversation that will hurt your business, like the time Digiorno used #WhyIStayed to advertise their product, when the hashtag was about domestic abuse.

80/20 Rule

People use social media to interact with other people, not listen to a company’s sales pitch. About 80% of your social posting should be interacting with your audience and posting interesting content. The other 20% should be reserved for promoting your own brand. Find relevant, third-party content as well as your own blog posts to share, making sure that you give credit when credit is due. Remember that your goal on social media is not to sell, it’s to create relationships with your customers and add value to their news feed.