This post is the first of a saga that will help you grow the Social Media Presence of your online shop. It will teach you the very first 5 strategic steps to start building your Online Presence and how to do it the right way. The next posts will explain in detail how to make the best use of Social Media channels for your Ecommerce business.

Yesterday at bonusbox I overheard one of my colleagues talking to one of our new merchants discussing our leading loyalty program. Maria, who just launched her own online-shop 3 months ago said, “Customer loyalty sounds great for my business, but what about new customer acquisition? We are a young start-up selling high-tech cooking tools and so far my main concern is that I am struggling to get my online shop known by the masses. Could you help me to do that? I know we have to be present on Social Media but I have no clue what to start with.” My colleague Josh passed me the phone and here are the tips I gave to Maria:

1. Set up clear and measurable goals

Try to define precise goals concerning Social Media and reinforce them with achievable figures. For Maria, the main concerns here are: building brand awareness and delivering the value proposition of her new online-shop. I personally advise to build your Social Media Presence on an initial period of 100 days. Why’s that I hear you cry? Because it’s long enough to generate great results and short enough to keep you motivated by the deadline. Here are a few fair numbers for Maria to achieve in 100 days: 1 000 Facebook fans, 500 Instagram followers, 2 000 Twitter followers and 100 LinkedIn followers (these ones concerning brand awareness).

2. Define your target audience

The online world is quite a vast environment – you can’t reach everybody and you shouldn’t try to do so. The goal here is to focus your efforts on connecting and interacting with potential customers. So, first things first: define who your customers are. What does your perfect customer look like? Which kind of content would they consider worth reading on your Social Media profiles and sharing with their friends? Here, the generation of personas can be of great help to keep you focused. – Learn more about this tool here.

3. Choose your niche & define the core message you want to communicate

The third step is directly linked to Maria’s second main goal: delivering the value proposition. To communicate what your online-shop does best, you need to focus on a niche and showcase your expertise on a very few chosen topics. For example, Maria could choose the niche topic of “innovation in the food industry”. She could share content such as the latest articles on molecular cooking or pictures of the newest cooking gadgets etc… Then, the next step for Maria is to define the core message her business should diffuse online (e.g. the company’s mission & vision, plus its positioning).

4. Choose the relevant channels

A common mistake is to choose the different channels before going through the previous steps described. As the different Social Media platforms serve various purposes, it makes more sense to choose them only after you have defined goals, audiences and type of content you want to share. Here for Maria, it makes sense to use Facebook and Instagram to share pictures, recipes and to use Twitter and LinkedIn to both showcase her expertise and engage into deeper interactions with potential customers.

5. Hire, start publishing & interact

The last step is finally to start working daily on your Social Media profiles. A fair editorial calendar for Maria could include: 1 daily Facebook post, 1 daily picture on Instagram, 3 tweets a day and 1 daily update on LinkedIn. Also, try to like, comment and share relevant content. Don’t forget to follow and connect with as many of (the right) people as possible too!

Finally, always evaluate how every move can benefit (or harm!) your online reputation and keep in mind the strategy you defined while following the previous steps. I highly recommend you to hire someone qualified who will be fully responsible for building your online presence. Even if Maria has a tight budget she could, for example, hire an intern or a junior. Of course they should be passionate about Social Media, but also able to understand her business model and be able to position her company as a true online brand with its own identity and unique value proposition.

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