Social channels still lag behind email marketing, SEM, and SEO as drivers of ecommerce traffic and sales, but it’s a rookie mistake to leave these channels out of your marketing plans. Last year, slice-1NoMoreRack, one of the fastest growing ecommerce retailers in the U.S. increased their holiday sales 165%, in large part by investing in and optimizing their Facebook ad campaigns.

Facebook has evolved from a scrappy networking platform to an advertising giant. Today it offers a googol ways to target customers, and other social channels are following its lead. Instagram, Pinterest, and others are rolling out ever more sophisticated tools for ecommerce marketers to use in their customer acquisition efforts. With these new changes and opportunities, it’s no surprise that the majority of marketers are willing to increase their spend on social channels.

As you’re thinking about the coming holiday season, and beyond to 2015, here are four social media tools that every commerce marketer should have on their radar. Start testing them today, and you’ll be ready to master them tomorrow.

Twitter Buy Button

Launched just a few weeks ago, Twitter is taking the lead with its “Buy” button. The first true, in-channel ecommerce tool is only available to a very small group right now and only for limited time items like event tickets and special run t-shirts. Right now, you can see it in use by Fancy (@fancy), Gumroad (@gumroad), Musictoday (@Musictoday) and Stripe (@stripe).


Eventually, Twitter hopes to prove its ecommerce value in direct sales. Of course, there are challenges to integrating it with inventory management systems and ecommerce platforms, but as its Twitter Cards (see #4) have proven, integration is something well within the team’s development capabilities.

Rich Pins

The ladies love Pinterest and so do marketers. According to Shopify, Pinterest is second only to Twitter in driving traffic to stores and the average purchase is higher by $12.

Experian’s recent study found the same: Pinterest drives traffic. “As of March 2014, social media sites now account for 7.72% of all traffic to retail websites, up from 6.59% in March 2013. Further, Pinterest, more than Facebook or YouTube, is supplying the greatest percentage of downstream traffic to retail sites.”


So what’s the best practice for ecommerce companies? Use Rich Pins for Products.

  • First, make sure you have a business page, not a personal page. Not only do you get access to Rich Pins, but you also get a plethora of data to give you insights into your Pinterest efforts.
  • Second, use Rich Pins when you enter pricing for your products. Pinterest will alert pinners to let them know if the price has been reduced. To help you make the decision of what to put on sale, Pinterest shows you which pins have gotten the most traffic, repins, etc. Getting that traffic depends on keyword-accurate descriptions of your pins, strategic use of hashtags, and promotion of your Pinterest page via email marketing, website, and other social networks. Here are some other reasons to get Pinterest for business.

NOTE: Pinterest does not allow for tagged links but it does a pretty good job of getting credit for referral traffic in Google Analytics.


I love Instagram. Send me all the selfies, puppy photos, and food porn you’d like. It’s a great way to spend a subway ride or waste time waiting for the doctor. As a marketer, though, it makes me crazy. Instagram is the last to the native data party and it doesn’t enable linking in posts, making it challenging to directly point to traffic or sales from Instagram. However, it’s a perfect platform for ecommerce because it’s hyper-mobile and image-based.

Some brands, like Fox and Fawn, have figured out how to turn Instagram into an ecommerce platform. Interested users sign up in advance and give the company their names, Instagram handles, and credit cards to have on file. When it posts a new product, the first person to comment with “Ring me up!” purchases the item. The company confirms the purchase and sends an email. On a rainy day, Fox and Fawn can see 40 percent of its daily sales from Instagram. Of course, tracking the sale requires a field in its POS system to demarcate Instagram as the source, and the salesperson must manually include the information.


Twitter Cards

We know email is a major driver of ecommerce sales, so many companies are working on collecting more email addresses. Social media, Twitter in particular, can be very effective at this. One of the most underrated tools is Twitter’s lead gen card. It’s an interactive image and has high, customizable button to go along with a tweet. If users see something they want, they click the button to indicate interest which tells Twitter to share their email addresses with the company. The email address can be automatically transferred to any of the integrated email marketing tools which can then immediately trigger an outbound email.


Don’t Just Do It

The challenge of social media today is many people think their 11 year-olds can do it. Sure, they may know how to choose an Instagram filter, but it’s unlikely that they have an understanding of how to drive likely-to-purchase traffic and increase the total lifetime value of a customer using social platforms. That’s best left to professionals. You know your audience best and what works for them, apply that knowledge to the tools listed above, and take a chance to better your business.