How 5 Ecommerce Brands Use Social Media to Gain Customers

We live in one of the most exciting times in ecommerce history—thanks in large part to social media.

Over the past decade, thousands of online-first consumer brands have emerged onto the scene, challenging traditional retail on all fronts and transforming the industry before our eyes.

According to BigCommerce, 96% of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, with 80% having made a purchase in the past month alone.

Which is why we rounded up 5 examples of top ecommerce brands using social media marketing to stand out.

5 Top Ecommerce Social Media Feeds

Social media for ecommerce brands isn’t just about showing off products and announcing sales. It’s about building trust, authentic relationships, and long-term customers.

There 5 brands are a step ahead of the rest.

Altra Running

One of the most effective ways to build trust and authentic relationships with an audience (and sell products) is through the use of storytelling.

Stories are one of the oldest forms of communication and they are still deeply embedded within our DNA. Stories help to spark curiosity and drive action.

Altra Running is a shining example of storytelling in action:

Take the 2019 Boston Marathon, for example. This iconic race is a staple in many running brands’ social media marketing calendars. Altra Running didn’t use the Boston Marathon to simply sell their products, they used it as an opportunity to connect with their customers through stories.

But what makes for a good story?

Acclaimed Pixar director Pete Docter once said, “What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some particular way. And what you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling.” Words to live by for ecommerce social media feeds looking to stand out.

More Labs

Another way to attract long-term customers is to relate to them on a personal level by using their language and speaking how they speak.

Many ecommerce brands on social media thrive at doing so, while some fall flat.

More Labs, creators of supplements for people who want more out of life, are a great example of a brand that understands what their audience is looking for in terms of social media content: alcohol and recovery.

More often than not, they share light-hearted content focused on engagement such as delicious drink recipes:

Then, at the perfect time, More Labs throws in tasteful product promotion that fits with their brand style:

Playing off the old saying “liquor before beer, you’re in the clear”, they creatively promote their product while simultaneously keeping the content fun.

Social media, after all, should be fun.

TOMS Shoes

Many ecommerce brands have benefited tremendously from aligning their product, mission, and marketing efforts with overall company profits.

TOMS Shoes is one of those brands. Behind all of their success is a mission statement that acts a “call to arms” to their audience – aligning values and views of the world with a product.

That mission statement is woven throughout their social media content as well:

Humans naturally feel inspired by and invested in brands that stand for something good.

In fact, 64% of consumers point to shared values as their main reason for working with a brand, and 90% expect companies to operate responsibly to address social issues.

Ecommerce brands on social media that successfully align their content with their brand mission will build a loyal, engaged, and active community.

Huckberry

Ecommerce brands like TOMS Shoes (above) inspire people with their mission statement and values, while other brands inspire people by evoking wonder and curiosity.

Huckberry, an online shop and journal that inspires more active, adventurous, and stylish lives, intuitively understands that by sparking their audience’s sense of wanderlust, they are able to sell more products in the long run.

You may be wondering why Huckberry focuses energy and attention on creating a unique brand story and publishing content around that story. 

Because it works. 

In an interview, Huckberry Brand Management Director Micah McKay explained, “Roundups, gift guides, gear guides, you name it, have all been a huge part of why people enjoy our brand. To take directly from our mantra, we’re not just selling products, we’re selling inspiration.”

Lorna Jane

What started off as small, home-based business, Lorna Jane is now a leading global fashion brand providing sportswear for women embracing healthy living.

Lorna Jane’s one-of-a-kind lifestyle brand persona incorporates a fun-loving and nurturing tone of voice into all of their social media content. But most of all, they actively engage with their audience on a consistent basis.

As shown above, the Lorna Jane team takes full advantage of the opportunity to answer customers’ questions publicly on social media. To them, it’s just another part of building a successful company.

When SmartCompany asked marketing manager Jessie Dean what makes Lorna Jane so successful, she replied, “Lorna Jane is perceived as so much more than a clothing brand, we’re Active Living advocates that share everything with our customers to help them live their best active lives. We’re deeply involved with our community.”

Next Steps

To up your social media game, read our latest ebook on how to develop social content that will get your brand noticed. And finally, let us show you what an all-in-one media monitoring, media outreach, social listening, and social management solution can do for your brand.

How to Start a Conversation on Social and Increase Brand Engagement

How do we break the ice and start a conversation? Even the most extroverted among us face big challenges in creating brand engagement. The obstacles standing between us and brand engagement often include:

  1. Google and Facebook’s ongoing algorithm tweaks, which decrease organic reach
  2. Multiple competitors all vying for the same audience
  3. The ever decreasing attention spans of social media users

Conversations should be designed

There are typically three ways we can spark up a conversation on social: by joining an existing conversation, by asking questions, and by sharing topical news to encourage people to to share an opinion or ask a question of their own. Any of these strategies can lead to high levels of brand engagement.

Join relevant conversations

For conversations to be meaningful, they must be relevant. Small talk is awkward, but if we have something valuable to say then the conversation can be anything but. Social media monitoring tools can help us find those customers, prospects, and influencers speaking about our industry. We can then join relevant conversations and boost brand engagement. Alternatively a hashtag search on Twitter is also a great way of discovering relatable chatter.

Example entry points into existing conversations (plus follow-up questions):

  • We disagree, what about xx. Have you considered this?
  • Great article, xx is particularly interesting. This got me thinking, what are your thoughts on xx?

Ask thought provoking questions to boost brand engagement

A community member who retweets content that we’ve posted offers the perfect chance to increase brand engagement by simply asking them questions about the article. If we show an interest in them and their ideas, chances are they will show an interest in us.

Example questions to use:

  • What’s your #1 goal to achieve in xx this year?
  • What do you think the future holds for xx?

Share up-to-date industry news and trends

By keeping up to date with industry news, we can zero into trending conversations that are taking place in the moment. It’s called news hijacking. Sign up for a news curation service or share stories found via a social media monitoring tool to remain relevant. By asking questions about the article, we can gain insight into what our audience thinks about a particular topic and increase brand engagement at the same time. Moreover, sharing our own thoughts enables us to flex our muscles and demonstrate our expertise, thus confirming our position in the market.

Example question:

  • What’s your biggest question mark over xx? We’ll try and answer it.
  • What’s the most insightful article you’ve read this week?

PR’s Critical Role in Search and Social Media Marketing

Digital marketing is a puzzle that brands continue trying to solve. Under that umbrella, they know they need to have a strong search marketing game—and of course, there’s social media marketing that always needs tending. They’re sinking more money into paid search and social isn’t always the answer. But all to often they’re ignoring their secret weapon to search and social media marketing—PR

“PR is, in youth speak, a search and social marketing hack,” says Chris BartleyManaging Director of Havas Life Medicom, one of Europe’s biggest healthcare creative, medical education, and PR agencies, @cambartley.

How PR Drives Search Marketing

It’s no secret that much of search marketing equates to link building. It’s not enough for a public relations or search marketing pro to secure an earned media mention. To make a real impact on a brand’s SEO, a link has to accompany the media placement.

“While the benefit of a press mention boosts a brand, it may be short-lived. The spike in referral traffic may be brief,” says Andy Crestodina, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Orbit Media, @crestodina.

“But, when you’re able to get a journalist or blogger to link to a piece of content on your site, that link is likely to last. It’s rare that sites delete pages and links. And, this will increase your SEO.”

“Links to your website equal authority,” says Crestodina. “Authority increases the likelihood that anything on your domain will rank. This is why PR professionals have such a huge ability to affect search rankings. The key is to understand the value of links and capture the opportunities of press mentions.” The key here is to not just get your brand mentioned, but to ask journalists and reporters to link to key brand content.

PR and Social Media—a Match Made in Digital Marketing Heaven

Why do we see PR and social media teams working more closely together than ever? Because brands are finally figuring out that these two should be tightly aligned.

“PR is so much more effective today because it merges, rather than separates, marketing and media channels,” says Bartley.

“Only the PR team can tell a story and in one day have it shared consistently through the communities that are most interested in that specific topic,” Bartley says. “Only the PR team can package your promotional message into a format that friends, peers and colleagues will  share naturally just as part of what they do each day.”      

When a company makes an announcement, industry news sites are often the first to cover the news. When they cover it, they usually share it on social media. Then, the brand will also share it, and chances are that a few partners or other fans of the brand will share it, too.

“If you now search Google on the specific product phrases in the press release, you’ll see you’re controlling the narrative with a good presence in the first few pages,” continued Bartley. “Achieving that feat through traditional search marketing would take months, significant spend, and tons of hours.”

The impact is even greater if a story has real news value.  

“Now swap out the dullest corporate non-story for something genuinely remarkable. You get the same search marketing result. However, you’ll suddenly find social media shares go crazy. That can have huge commercial impact in a very short span of time.”

Finally, don’t forget about paid social. Once you’ve got your brand out there, you’ll want to boost this earned media with a just a little bit of budget.

And Then There’s Contributed Content—Which Boosts BOTH Search and Social

There’s a reason 60% of content strategies are PR-focused.

“I think if you’re not as successful as you want to be online, you have to be thinking about creating content that someone’s actually searching for,” says Arnie Kuenn, CEO of digital marketing agency Vertical Measures, @arniek. “There are ways to figure that out.”

PR teams play a role in creating what Kuenn calls “educational content”—something public relations practitioners frequently do as part of their work with clients. 

Generally, what we’ve done is pitch a series of educational articles,” says Kuenn. “We’ll write contributed content. Sometimes it’s just a mention or citation. We’ve had great success doing that.” 

The Value of PR Continues to Grow in Search and Social Media Marketing

The value of public relations is increasing, as PR pros continue to prove their worth as storytellers who can write and place stories, building links in the process and getting the word out on social media which further enhances a brand’s SEO.

Next Steps

For a deep dive into PR’s SEO superpowers, watch our webinar with Andy Crestodina with his step-by-step guide on how PR can get the brand to the top of Google’s search results. And if you’re still not convinced that PR and social media go hand in hand, watch our webinar on what you’re missing out by not aligning team goals.

 

How to Find, Nurture and Sustain Influencer Relationships

Building influencer relationships isn’t a new concept for brands. However, the digital boom brought a new generation of influencers with it. Insta famous fashionistas, globetrotting bloggers and YouTube Vloggers have taken the world by storm. Brand trust is said to be at an all-time low, organic reach is declining, and online advertising is being resisted by the general public through the use of ad blocking software. Influencer relationships is the perfect solution to these challenges.

Many brands are want to capitalize on increased reach, engagement, brand advocacy, authenticity and lead generation that building influencer re