Get All Access for $5/mo

How to Put the "Social" in Social Commerce When social media first popped into existence, there was no intention of using it to circumvent the traditional sales process. Now, it can be a place for brands to drive growth and profit, but the social element of social commerce shouldn't be ignored.

By Christopher Tompkins Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When social media first popped into existence — your Six Degrees, your MySpaces, the prehistoric version of Facebook that looks like an entirely different site today — there was no intention of using them to circumvent the traditional sales process.

Now, with the rapid expansion of online marketplaces and a two-year pandemic that's made everyone much more tech-savvy, we're starting to see the integration of commerce and community in a way that the forefathers of social media never dreamed of — and probably never intended.

But, this is the reality that we as digital marketers and social media specialists live in. And if we want our brands to thrive on social media, we need to play by social media's new rules. Nearly every platform will allow you monetization opportunities, but that doesn't guarantee that you'll make sales. Like anything in marketing, it takes strategy to turn a profit on social media. And to be honest, the strategy for getting your socials off the ground and generating conversions isn't that different from how you'd set up a brick-and-mortar business for success. Here are some tips to follow for your brand to really thrive on social media:

Use the right platforms

First, you need to have the right location, or digitally speaking, utilize the right platforms. If you set up your lemonade stand in the middle of the woods, you're going to go home with empty pockets.

Let's do a hypothetical: You have a small business that manufactures and sells unique, bespoke furniture. If your main sales avenue is Twitter, you've goofed up. That is an Instagram and Pinterest play almost exclusively. Knowing where to build your social storefront is an integral part of generating revenue. (Pro-tip: Just don't try to sell things on Twitter).

Related: The Business of Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Spend money, make money

Next, realize that the oldest idiom in the business world applies to social commerce too. What will any Business 101 class tell you? "You need to spend money to make money."

Social media is not strictly pay-to-play, there are success stories of brands that have built up a presence mostly organically. I say "mostly," because even in those cases, they still had an advertising budget, minuscule as it might be. However, in the current landscape of social media, due to the sheer amount of competition, every industry pretty much demands that businesses who aren't household names put some amount of money behind their social channels.

Where should they be allocating these funds? In my personal opinion, you should be using them to boost your social media content to a larger audience instead of shelling out for Facebook ads. Content is what draws consumers in and turns them on to your brand. Make sure that the engaging copy and design you're producing is reaching the widest segment of your audience possible, and you'll see sales begin to steadily trickle in.

Related: Social Commerce Is the Future of Marketing. Are You Ready?

Know your buyers

And speaking of content — it really is king! But if you're trying to use it solely to generate a profit, then you're wasting it.

Let's do another hypothetical. If you live in even a modestly sized area, you probably have multiple grocery stores about equidistant from you. And yet, despite travel time being equal, you have a preferred store. What is it that takes you to Grocery Store X over Grocery Store Y?

Whatever star factor Grocery Store X has, that's what your digital content needs as well. It needs to not only be modern and well-designed, but it also needs to cater to the audience most likely to interact with your brand — your buyers.

This comes down to creating on-point buyer profiles that can precisely predict what kind of challenges your buyers are facing and how you can position yourself as the solution. Without buyer profiles, you're just casting a net into a body of water, unsure if it's a lake or swimming pool, and hoping you get a bite.

There's no right way to create a buyer profile, but to make one that helps you dictate your content, you'll need to get inside the mind of your audience. This means gaining their insights, whether that's through interviews or demographic research. Once you're inside your buyer's head, you can start to interact with your brand in the way they would start plotting content around their wants and needs that ultimately drives their purchasing decisions.

Social media has exponentially expanded since its creation, but at its core, it still maintains the town square sensibility to it. It can be a place for brands to drive growth and profit, but the social element of social commerce shouldn't be ignored. Ultimately, running a business on social media isn't too dissimilar from running a business in real life. You have to pick the right platform, provide an X factor that helps you stick out from the competition, and know your buyers well enough to serve their needs. Whether you make sales through a checkout lane or a landing page, the route there isn't as different as you might think.

Related: The Evolving Role of Social Media in Ecommerce

Christopher Tompkins

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of The Go! Agency

Christopher Tompkins is the CEO and founder of The Go! Agency and an internationally renowned expert in digital marketing. With more than two decades of experience, he has turned The Go! Agency into a top-ten marketing agency in Florida and a top-25 digital marketing agency nationwide.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Leadership

This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.

Leadership

Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.