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What Social Media Selling Means for Communication and Efficiency in DTC Ecommerce

Rodney Laws July 8, 2021

What Social Media Selling Means For Communication And Efficiency In DTC Ecommerce

There’s a lot to be said for cutting out the middleman in the high-stakes world of online retail. Profit lies in the difference between what something costs to make and what it sells for, and every intermediary eats into that margin to get their slice of the pie. So what if you make your chain as minimal as possible? This is what the DTC (direct to consumer) approach is about.

DTC ecommerce does away with wholesalers and other suppliers. When it has the option to evade third-party manufacturing and marketing, it does. The ideal arrangement for a DTC seller is handling everything in-house. Done well, this allows incredible profitability, but it also engenders the kind of customer loyalty that can turn competitors green with envy.

After all, dealing with customers directly allows you to put out the precise message you want to convey, with no affiliates or partners to misinterpret or complicate communication. This kind of contact has become very easy since the mainstream arrival of social media. Having an email address and a contact form on your website is useful, but maintaining a presence through various social media channels takes things to another level entirely.

This is where social media selling becomes such a fascinating topic. It’s not quite what you’d expect from the name, but it’s close—social media selling is about using social media to drive conversions, regardless of where those conversions ultimately take place. In this article, we’re going to be considering what it means for communication and efficiency in DTC ecommerce.

Is social media selling something you need to embrace? Let’s go through it.

It’s Superb for Building Up Early Social Proof

Social proof is a powerful thing throughout the online retail world. Shoppers are slow to believe brands due to their exaggerated claims, so they look for verification from their peers. Social proof is even more powerful for DTC sellers, though. Why? It’s a simple matter of scale. Supported by the intermediaries that DTC merchants prefer to avoid, conventional B2C operations can shift units in much greater volumes, ensuring that they gather myriad reviews and recommendations.

It’s worth remembering that the average DTC seller can’t afford to handle stock in great quantities and sell on numerous fronts. Doing everything in-house takes incredible skill and dedication, and only a rare company can perform at that level. Just think about how many things can go wrong in the supply chain. Retaining stock you can’t shift is punishing enough when you’re taking advantage of existing warehouse infrastructure. It can be enough to drive your operation into bankruptcy when you’re handling everything yourself.

Because of this, DTC sellers tend to pick up sales relatively slowly—and while their profitability can make up for that, one five-star review will never seem as impactful as ten five-star reviews. Reaching the point that social proof becomes compelling is a huge deal, and it’s often the first step in building a small business up to the enterprise level.

In this context, you should consider social proof to be any content or comments generated by your target audience (primarily your customers) that attest to the quality and trustworthiness of your brand and whatever you’re selling. The best social proof you can hope for is a glowing review from someone with a substantial social-media following and the inclination to share their thoughts with everyone who’s willing to listen—but even simple likes (or even word-of-mouth comments between friends) will certainly help.

To earn social proof in the form of reviews, you can incentivize surveys during purchase or send follow-up emails after orders have been received. Those are the two big options for sellers. But if you add social media to the mix, the options increase dramatically.

Sellers can use social media channels to gather feedback organically—people receive their orders and start talking about them, and DTC sellers can simply tap into this feedback through social selling.

In other words, once you’ve identified your target audience and determined how to reach it through social media, you will know exactly where to look for comments after you’ve made sales. When you find negative points, you can address them (more on that next), and when you find glowing endorsements, you can gather them. You can even ask the writers (politely, of course) if they can provide any further information that might make their testimony even more convincing.

It Fits Neatly Into Unified Customer Service

Good customer service is particularly essential for small businesses, which often depend on praise to spread free publicity. But what factors into great customer service?

Well, if you take everything into account, there are two main priorities: being highly responsive, and taking appropriate action. Any seller that can nail those two components will develop a valuable support system.

Today, most pragmatic businesses aim for unified customer service. This means that they attempt to be platform-agnostic with their issue management. In other words, they want to handle all complaints regardless of where they’re expressed. It shouldn’t matter whether a customer expressed frustration on Twitter, on Facebook, or through a TikTok video. In ideal circumstances, all those issues should be fielded through the same system.

For this reason, it’s increasingly common for an online retail company to use a shared inbox for seamless collaboration. All updates for a given problem are tracked in one place regardless of their origins, producing easy-to-read timelines and sets of actions that minimize repetition.

This ties into the larger trend of unification, of course. The goals are to keep learning about how and why shoppers make decisions (we’ll return to this later), and to reduce complexity overall. It’s now typical for a modern customer support team to work remotely, often featuring freelancers or employees from third-party firms (this can be done well, but it’s more frequently done poorly). This disconnect can lead to discord, but using one centralized online portal makes it relatively simple for scattered teams to stay on the same page.

So how does social media selling play into this? The more time you spend engaging in social selling, the easier you’ll find it to deal with whatever issues arise from purchases. You’ll have a solid rapport with your customers, you’ll know how to reach them, and you’ll know from your observations what their general support preferences are (whether they want elaborate apologies, for example, or just to have their issues addressed as quickly as possible).

It Steadily Establishes Vital Brand Elements

Branding is often the thing that separates growing businesses from those that have reached their ceilings. This is all the more applicable for DTC sellers, reliant as they are on leaving strong impressions—but how are those impressions to be formed?

Not through massive media campaigns, of course, as those are for companies with huge budgets. And while the dream is to shape a brand through word of mouth, that process has to start somewhere with someone.

Social media selling allows even the smallest operations to convey their branding elements almost seamlessly while they’re encouraging conversions. They can roll out tonal tweaks to come across as either light-hearted or rigidly professional. They can include images that feature their signature visual elements—the shapes and colors they prefer to use for their content.

Social media scrolling does tend to blur together, but that doesn’t mean all these subtle things go unnoticed. A user who scrolls past a brand’s posts for a few months might find, much to their surprise, that they’ve actually remembered some things about that brand without even taking conscious note of it. This is immensely powerful for social brands.

Beyond that, brands can simply state their characteristics to their social media audiences. If you pride yourself on having the lowest prices, tell anyone who’ll listen—challenge them to try you. Again, even if someone doesn’t believe one of your claims, using it again and again will at least lead them to associate it with you, and that’s still a positive change.

It Returns Invaluable Digital Analytics

Lastly, but certainly not least, we turn to the matter of digital analytics. Regardless of whether you pay attention to them, social media channels gather all manner of snippets about your posts (particularly when they’re promoted). If you draw upon that information, you can learn a huge amount about the people you’re trying to earn as loyal customers.

But what can you do with that information? Well, for a start, you can factor it into your email marketing funnel strategy. The people you reach through social media will mostly be the same people you reach through email (you may even drive subscribers to your email newsletter through your social media profiles), so the insight is entirely transferable.

This is significant for efficiency because it cuts down on the information-gathering you need to do (it’s already there for you) and it allows you to significantly boost the impact of your general marketing efforts. Something like Facebook Ads—with its immensely-rich selection of fields to target—can work wonders for a DTC seller, and the CPC (cost per click) model combined with finely-honed calls to action can drive remarkable ROI.

In Conclusion

As we’ve seen here, social media selling isn’t just a powerful tool for convincing people to buy from you. It also has a phenomenal impact on the viability of DTC ecommerce in a competitive marketplace, helping small sellers to generate social proof, improve their customer service, cultivate their brands, and gather rich analytics.

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