This post is part one in a two-part series.

By now almost every e-commerce business owner has heard multiple times that their brand needs to be on social media. However, what you may not have heard about is how to use social media to build brand loyalty, drive more traffic to your website, and increase your sales.

In order to create an effective social media marketing strategy, you must think about marketing in a different way entirely. Instead of selling, you’re nurturing relationships with your customers and staying top-of-mind in the hopes that your audience will turn to you when they’re ready to buy. Be prepared for this increase in sales by forming a partnership with a 3PL services company that can do your warehousing and distribution as you grow — otherwise you risk losing those hard-earned customers to slow shipping and mishandled returns.

Here are three ways you can use social media to promote your e-commerce business and increase sales.

Engage your fans on social media

Social media provides a great way for e-commerce brands to create meaningful connections with customers and prospects. While it’s always important to be professional, you don’t need to keep such a serious corporate tone on your social media networks. Consider social media an opportunity to showcase your brand’s fun, human side. Engaging in conversation shows users that they are interacting with a human, and it helps to keep your brand top-of-mind.

Without engagement, your social media promotions are not likely to convert as well. Here are some tips for keeping your fans engaged on social media:

  • Post photos and videos that show your company culture, or day to day activities. This includes photos of your staff at work, events you have hosted or attended, and any charity-related activities your company is involved with.
  • Ask questions, or create polls in social posts
  • Get involved in relevant conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Share relevant content and news stories from external sources
  • Share positive testimonials and photos that customers post about your brand

Be where your customers are

It’s important for brands to pay attention to which social networks their customers are on, and to follow them there. For example, if you are targeting professionals, they are more likely to be hanging on out LinkedIn than on Facebook. Connecting with prospects who are interested in your product, and from there provide them with valuable content to build trust and stay top of mind. Above all, make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to connect with them by replying to all comments or messages that they send you.

Offer your social media fans exclusive promotions and discounts

One of the biggest reasons people follow and engage with brands on social media is for exclusive deals. 63% of consumers said that they follow retailers to learn about sales, while 36% have engaged with content because the retailer promised a discount for sharing the post.

Offering your followers a reason to follow your brand’s social media channels will help to improve your conversion rates. You can do this by offering exclusive discounts, or run promotions that are not available on other avenues. Alternatively, you can host contests or giveaways on social media, which can help you gain followers and engagement while promoting your brand.

Read more tips for boosting your e-commerce sales through social media in part two of this two-part series.