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Promoting your business on social media does require a substantial and consistent investment of your time, but, when done correctly, it can pay off in the long run. — Getty Images/golibo

Social media platforms are a great place to spread the word about your business. But many business owners still wonder if social media is worth the investment.

Merchants are often frustrated when it comes to marketing their businesses on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. While these platforms can be great branding tools and good ways to interact with customers, it’s difficult to see how social media directly boosts sales. In a 2017 survey, 45% of business owners who use social media for marketing weren’t able to see a quantifiable impact on their bottom line.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make sure your social media channels are serving your business better. Here’s how to boost your social media marketing ROI and sell effectively on social media.

Use your platforms to generate leads

Many consumers head to social media to learn about a product or service before making a purchase decision. As a result, you may see a lot of views of your content, but not a lot of sales. While at first glance this can be frustrating, many small business owners take advantage of the lead generation potential of social media.

Lead generation is about gathering intelligence. Use social media to learn about your audience’s pain points, interests and products or services you could potentially sell to them. Each channel is built to deliver different insights about your followers. According to research by Sprout Social, B2B marketers report the following statistics:

Explore the analytics reports on the business dashboard of your social media channels for insights you can use to convert leads into sales.

Use social media to learn about your audience’s pain points, interests and products or services you could potentially sell to them.

Offer discounts exclusively through social media

To motivate your followers to become customers, offer incentives through discounts or rewards. Studies show that discounts can increase foot traffic, sales, repeat customers and improve your business’s reputation.

Start with an offer that makes it easy for customers to take the action you intend. For example, a cafe might post a Facebook announcement showcasing their new menu items, offering a free coffee when a customer orders something from the seasonal menu. Customers then have to show they liked the Facebook post to redeem the free coffee.

Make it easy to complete a purchase

Pinterest and Instagram are making it easier than ever for customers to see and buy seamlessly.

On Pinterest, Rich Pins and Buyable Pins allow a customer to see the price and availability of a product within the platform. Users are able to complete their purchase immediately, rather than visiting a separate web page to check out. This is a great way to boost sales. According to Shopify, “Sales derived from ads/postings on Pinterest have an average order value $50 higher than on other popular social media platforms.”

Instagram introduced a similar tool called Shoppable Posts. Businesses can tag products shown on their feed. The tags display the item price, and then lead to a product catalogue. Users can browse your “Shop” feed and go directly to the product page on your website to purchase. Accordingly, Instagram offers insights that can be used for lead generation, including click-through rate and how many users tapped for product details.

Learn from your paid campaigns

Social media is a quick way to stress test a new product, marketing initiative, or discount. Analytics across your social media platforms can give you virtually instant feedback on whether or not your campaign is hitting its objectives. Before investing in a larger advertising effort, or ordering inventory of a new product, make sure your audience is responding positively to your social media posts. Don’t be afraid to try new things on social media and get the feedback you need to figure out what works for your business.

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best social media management tools, visit our friends at business.com.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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