Do you remember last year’s shopping frenzy on Black Friday?

I can’t forget it because not only did I purchase some of my favorite stuff online at insanely cheap rates, but also bought tons of gifts for my friends and family members in Thanksgiving sales.

For the last few years now, Black Friday and Thanksgiving have become two of the most important days for online retailers. Thanksgiving (the last Thursday of every November) has always been an important day in the U.S but eCommerce has completely revolutionized it.

Last year, in 2014, online sales on Thanksgiving topped $1billion, while the sales for Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) reached almost $1.5 billion.

blackfroiday1

Social commerce is also on the rise over the last few years, with global sales from social media expected to reach $30 billion by the end of 2015.

So by all indications, Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2015 are going to be much bigger than the last year, and social media is going to have a significant impact on Black Friday sales.

The question is; are you ready to take advantage?

If you don’t have a strategy yet, you might still have just enough time to prepare yourself for this shopping extravaganza.

Here are a few ways you can use social media to supercharge your Black Friday sales this year.

1.Prepare Your Website for Mobile Shoppers

Is your eCommerce website ready for mobile shoppers?

Even before your start engaging social media users, and driving traffic to your website, you need to make sure that your site supports smartphone, tablet and mobile visitors.

Why? Because online buyers are increasingly turning towards their smartphones for purchasing online.

blackfriday3

Source: Statista Blog

Nearly 22% of all Black Friday sales were made from mobile devices. But this number jumped to 28% in 2014, and there’s every reason to believe that it will be even higher thi­s year.

blackfriday2

Source: Statista

But just because your site is accessible from a mobile device doesn’t mean it’s actually mobile friendly. A mobile friendly website has design elements and dimensions according to the size of a mobile screen.

So you either have to create a separate mobile version of your eCommerce site, or build your site using responsive web design (which I recommend). A responsive design automatically adjusts dimensions for desktop and mobile users.

You can hire a web designer from freelancing websites like Elance, or design specific portals like 99Designs, to make your website design responsive.

Or you could use a third party eCommerce store app like Selz and Store Pro to setup a fully responsive eCommerce store that supports both digital and physical product selling.

Here’s a snapshot from Selz Store Pro of how its responsive design adjusts according to the buyer’s device.

responsive2

Nearly 30% of buyers abandon an online purchase just because of poor design and lack of mobile support. So it’s critical for your Black Friday sales prospects that your website is built using responsive design.

To check whether your site supports mobile visitors, you can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.

2. Identify Your Most Profitable Social Networks

Not all social networks are equal when it comes to eCommerce. Some, like Facebook and Pinterest, drive more traffic, conversions and sales as compared to others.

Research shows that overall, Facebook is the most effective social network for eCommerce businesses with more than 85% sales originating from it.

social orders1

When you start promoting your Black Friday offers, choose the social networks where your audience is more engaged and active.  Black Friday stats from previous years suggest that Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram drive the most traffic.

Instead of stretching yourself too far in trying to cover all the major social networks, focus on the 2 most profitable ones for your business that are most likely to produce results for you.

3. Use Facebook Advertisements to Spread the Word

Facebook advertising has become one of the most popular paid advertising channels for marketers around the globe. Google AdWords is still the leading paid advertising platform, but Facebook ads are quickly catching up.

According to by HubSpot, Facebook ads account for almost 19% of the global mobile digital advertising. In the U.S alone, Facebook advertising will account for nearly 27% of all digital advertising by 2017.

The biggest advantage with Facebook ads is that the majority of your target audience is already using Facebook every day. It has more than 1.4 billion active monthly users, with an average user spending close to 40 minutes on it daily.

facebook1

Source: StartABlog123 – Best Times to Post on Social Media [Infographic]

Facebook ads outperform most other advertising platforms in terms of audience targeting. There are multiple factors you can use to zoom in on your potential customers and reach them when they are most likely to make a purchase.

You can set up Facebook ads for your products with a Shop Now button and route users to your eCommerce website. Start with a small budget and test ads with different high quality images. Shortlist the best performing ad units and then gradually increase your spending.

Here’s a very detailed and comprehensive guide on setting up effective and conversion optimized Facebook ads.

4. Start a Dedicated Hashtag for Your Business

Hashtags are a key part of the social media vocabulary. Almost every social network supports, and even encourage, hashtags.

For example, research shows that Tweets with 1-2 hashtags get almost 55% more engagement, and Tweets with hashtags get 200% engagement as compared to the Tweets without them.

hashtags1

Hashtags not only help you reach people beyond your immediate friends and followers, but can also be used in several innovative ways to promote your brand and products.

For example, Nike regularly uses the hashtag #JustDoIt, their brand’s punchline, for their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram updates. A simple search for this hashtag will lead you to thousands of Tweets about Nike.

Similarly, KitKat uses their punchline #HaveABreak to promote offers and content on different social networks, and build conversations with users.

Hashtags are especially ideal for seasonal promotions like Black Friday and Thanksgiving. Define a hashtag for your brand’s promotional activities and use it with #BlackFriday hashtag to send out offers, run promotions, hold competitions and build conversations.

Your brand’s hashtag should not only be unique, but should also get the users interested in it. It shouldn’t be too generic otherwise it won’t gain attention.

5. Make Video a Key Part of Your Social Content

Videos have always been one of the most popular forms of content on social networks. But with both Twitter and Facebook introducing the auto play feature, videos have taken the social media world by storm.

People are spending much more time watching native Facebook and Twitter videos as compared to videos hosted on third party sites like YouTube, DailyMotion etc. In fact, Facebook has become the second biggest platform for videos after YouTube.

facebook-native-vs-youtube1

So video content simply has to be a part of your social media strategy this Black Friday. You can make your videos even more effective by promoting them using Facebook ads.

According to SocialBakers, your videos have the best chance to be seen if you limit them to 33 seconds, and optimize them using catchy titles and descriptions. Combine video with other forms of content shared frequently on social media. You can create short product tutorials, ads or how to videos to get your followers involved.

Engagement also has a lot to do with the timing of your posts. So make sure that you’re aware of the highest engagement times on social network. For example, the best time to post on Facebook is between 1PM-4PM on weekdays

timing1

You can find the best times to post on other social networks in this great infographic, “The Science of Posting on Social Media

6. Simplify the Buying Process

Engaging people on social media with your content and then driving traffic to your eCommerce store is just one part of the equation.

You also need to convert these visitors into buyers. And for that, you must ensure that the whole buying process on your eCommerce store, especially the checkout phase, is smooth and user friendly.

Research shows that 68% of shoppers abandoned purchase on eCommerce stores between 2012 and 2014 because of problems with the buying process, costing businesses nearly $3 trillion worldwide.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your buying experience for visitors from social media.

  • Make sure your eCommerce store has promotions and discounts listed on the main page. It should make it easier for buyers to find the products they’re looking for.
  • Instead of routing visitors to your site, create a Facebook store using eCommerce store apps like Selz. This allows users to make the purchase while staying on Facebook and removes the additional step of going to your website. Your Facebook store can collect payments directly from Visa, Master Card, PayPal and several payment options.
  • Enable Twitter Cards and Rich Pins for your website. This will allow you to share product cards on Twitter and give users a chance to shop directly from Twitter. Rich Pins will make your product pins more buyer friendly.
  • Remove any redirections in your checkout phase, and make sure that the whole payment process completes in the same window in 2-3 steps.

Remember that the eCommerce traffic generated from social media usually has a higher bounce rate than other sources. So it’s crucial that you either tap into your potential customers using a Facebook store or make the whole buying process on your site very easy and user friendly.

7. Convert Get Customers on Your Email List

No matter how engaged and loyal your social media followers are, you’re always in danger of losing them. Facebook, Twitter and all other social networks regularly tweak their algorithms which can have a huge impact on the reach of your social updates.

Social media is great for engagement, but it’s still rented property and you don’t have complete control over it.

Black Friday sales are expected to bring in a lot of traffic to your eCommerce store, so I strongly recommend that you make a conscious effort to get as many visitors on your email list as possible.

Research shows that nearly 66% of US consumers older than 15 years, made at least one purchase because email in the last year.

quicksprout

So whether you’re selling eBooks, or other form of digital products, or have an online store for your brick and mortars business, email subscribers are important for you.

Wrapping Up

Black Friday has become one of the most important days for eCommerce business in the U.S and worldwide. Social media provides you the perfect platform to launch your promotional offers and discounts, and take advantage of this shopping fest.

But for this to work, you need to prepare a strategy. So get to work because you don’t have much time.