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How Your Small Business Can Use Social Media to Boost Sales

How Your Small Business Can Use Social Media to Boost Sales
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In 2014, consumer shopping behavior evolved rapidly. Shopping online and through mobile devices is the new norm, and the experience has become increasingly more social with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These platforms, in turn, have launched new commerce capabilities like the “buy” button.

Related: 12 Ways to Increase Online Sales

These new buying habits provide small business "etailers" opportunities to immediately grow their revenues. 

According to Invesp, social commerce is expected to grow and will represent 5 percent of online retail revenue this year, resulting in an estimated $14 billion in sales by the end of 2015. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that many large retailers are making significant investments in social media marketing, to offer millions of potential customers a seamless, flexible and more personalized shopping experience.

While these large businesses may have significant budgets to spend on social commerce and marketing, smaller-size companies too can leverage the new social trends to drive increased revenue. Consider these five strategies to boost sales in 2015:

1. Get personal.  

Social media is a place for genuine engagements with consumers and often these dialogues result in loyal, long-term customers. In addition to promoting product deals, you can use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share nonproduct-related stories and visuals that will evoke positive emotions and lead to "sharing." You might also ask consumers to share their stories and insights on topics related to your industry. In doing so, consumers will feel more connected to you and your brand, and be more inspired to purchase from you.

2. Prioritize customer service.

For many consumers, a company Facebook page or Twitter handle is their first customer-service resource and the last thing you want is for unhappy customers to share negative experiences with other followers. To prevent any negative impact on your brand, stay on top of customer issues by responding to all queries within 12 hours and then providing a rapid resolution. If you do not have enough staff to provide this level of service, consider investing in social media monitoring tools. Additionally, when a customer shares a favorable experience, consider re-sharing it across company social channels.

Related: It's Time to Diversify Your Online Sales Strategy

3. Don’t underestimate the selling power of a hashtag. 

Retailers continue to revolutionize the way consumers shop on social media. For example, Amazon has elevated the social commerce experience with #AmazonCart, which allows Twitter users to add products from tweets with a link directly to their Amazon shopping cart so they can purchase the item later.

You don't need highly sophisticated technology to produce results. Apply a similar strategy by using free social media sharing tools, such as Hootsuite, to schedule regular tweets regarding product deals, holiday campaigns or company storytelling. Each tweet should include a compelling visual, promo code, direct link for purchase and a relevant hashtag, such as #petfood and #petlover if, for example, you are a pet store owner.

4. Recognize that social and mobile go hand-in-hand.

Businesses of all sizes cannot ignore the significant impact of daily mobile use and mobile purchasing, especially given the fact that 85 percent of Americans surveyed said that mobile devices are a central part of their everyday lives, according to Salesforce. With over 1 billion monthly active users, the Facebook mobile app is the perfect platform for reaching a high volume of buyers on the go. As with Twitter, Facebook allows you to develop a schedule of posts with product deals, accompanied by compelling visuals, promo codes and direct links for purchase. 

5. Add an online store directly onto social media platforms.

You can optimize your online reach even further by adding a shopping cart directly onto your Facebook page, so your customers are able to shop and purchase without ever leaving Facebook. You also can add a store to your WordPress blog or any other online site where you promote products. These tools tend to be mobile-responsive and adapt to any device, so you can ensure a seamless shopping experience for customers.   

By using these five strategies this year, you can make a significant impact on 2015 sales. While your small business may not have the sizable budget larger businesses do, these moves will provide the seamless purchasing experience consumers are looking for, and you will have the opportunity to reach a broader range of consumers who just may become your most loyal customers.

Related: 8 Online-Marketing Terms Business Owners Must Know