30 social media marketing ideas from big brands

Hi Amasty blog readers!

Several weeks ago I was talking to a friend who runs a small e-shop. She and her assistant run social media themselves, as they can’t allow a social media manager, and, frankly speaking, they don’t need one, as their potential audience is not so wide, and the girls are doing a good job. But my friend complained that she run out of ideas.

Indeed, marketers say that we should give our audience something useful, entertaining, something they’ll love or enjoy, something that solves their problems and makes their life better.

What if you’re stuck with content ideas? Really, can you name at least ten unique social media posting types apart from sharing shop news and discounts, blog posts and items you want to promote?

To help you with that, I picked 30 ideas for social media posts that proved to be working as big e-commerce brands used them in their social media campaigns. So whenever you run out of topics, you just open this post and browse through to get some inspiration.

1. Show exclusive/funny/unique items

This Amazon post with the link to a selfie mirror is the point where you know how to tease your audience. The proof is the number of ironic comments. But should you really post only ‘OMG that’s cute’ items? Besides, this particular thing is a great funny present. The result is: comments, shares, likes, traffic and engagement. People engage, express their feelings – that’s what you want.

If you don’t have selfie mirrors, or Sheldon T-shirts, or super cute bright pink mp3 players encrusted with Swarovski, or any other unusual or fun items, test whether your audience likes it. Post links to such items relevant to your store and ask your followers whether they would buy it. By their reaction you can judge whether you should add a couple of fun items to your inventory.

2. Ask a question

But asking questions is an art too. What I love about this Etsy post:

  • It’s unique – and people believe the company cared because they made a special photo for the post;
  • The question is relevant, it’s not too simple and does not look like ‘we posted a question because we were told to do so’;
  • The question is of great use for readers, because they can share nice experience and use this information while shopping.
Remember, asking a question means engagement. I saw brands like Nordstrom commenting each and every reply for ‘What’s your signature perfume?’, and that’s fantastic. If you can’t afford commenting each reply, make sure you at least like/fav it, or consider reacting at the most funny or friendly comments. Make your question look like you do care what people answer. And do care, please.

3. Reshare customers’ posts

It’s not a big reveal that customers share purchases on their social media accounts. And you’re lucky to have instruments to track these posts. Resharing such content kills two birds. First of all, you show that real people trust you, buy from you and are thankful enough to show it. Secondly, you show that you care and are thankful for mentioning.

 

Stick to the happy medium. Make sure you don’t overboast: sharing these posts once or maximum twice a month will be okay, but barely more.

4. Be creative

I absolutely adore this small video from Gap: it’s cute (forgive me this triviality) and it’s a great idea to combine the worldwide trend on drones with apparel ads. And it’s a potentially viral thing.

Be creative! Show uncommon usage of your goods. Remember the viral video on how to peel a bucket of potatoes with a drill? Such a thing could be a perfect brand video too.

5. Don’t forget national days and holidays

Macy’s not only thanked the veterans, but also shared a link to a charity organization website, where you can donate to help those who served for their country and now are in need. As Macy’s has about 15 billion likes on Facebook, it’s a real instrument of help.

People see hundreds of congrats posts on special days, and you don’t want to become food for fish. Make your greetings hearty, show that you care and raise people to care too.

6. Sneak Peeks

Macy’s created a Black Friday Sneak Peek board so the customers can choose items they want to buy in advance. It’s a great way to let shoppers plan their budget and have more satisfaction from shopping. When Black Friday comes, they won’t be looking through all the categories and will go straight to the items they wanted.
Social media post ideas: sneak peek

Create albums or share sneak peeks for discounts, deals, new arrivals, blog posts and stuff. Make sure you don’t misinform your customers regarding  future prices and discounts.

7. ‘How to choose’ advice

How to choose tips have two big advantages:

1. It’s evergreen content, and you can repost it from time to time, which also saves your own time spent on social media posting;

2. It’s the content that raise your customers’ satisfaction. By learning how to choose items properly customers eventually make better choices, which makes them happier.

See how Macy’s presents short how to choose videos on their YouTube channels:

 
Educate your customers. If someone drops at your web store in search of a standing desk and having no idea how to pick one, don’t let him leave your site like that, don’t let him go to your competitors, hook him up with a how-to-choose instruction and then suggest going to the category page and making a choice.

8. Be different when sharing products

Sure, the most of the posts by retailers are showing items available at the moment. But everybody in retail social media is doing that, and you have to stand out of the crowd.

Have a look at the strategy Nordstrom is using on their social media accounts. You can just share a link to the item and add its name or even price. Or you can do something like this:

Be creative when it comes to sharing your products on your social media accounts. Remember that there are thousands of retailers using social media, and you want your posts to show up. For example, think of unusual pics and catchy lines. And don’t forget to provide consultations in comments if there are any questions.

9. Connect with bloggers

Here’s the example: H&M retweeted a blogger’s tweet featuring their brand. There are plenty of ways you can build relationships with bloggers, and the first step is to share relevant posts created by bloggers from your niche.

  

Think how you can connect with bloggers. The simplest way is to share articles by bloggers of your niche, as they tend to produce high quality, lengthy or useful content that is closer to your audience in comparison with branded content marketing. This collaboration with bloggers, which are basically customers, but with a louder voice, makes your brand more human.
Feel free to check 25 best retail blog ideas blog post.

 10. Make use of others’ content

Who says you can post your content only? If someone does, he’s wrong. There are powerful content producers in almost every niche. They want you to share their content, you want quality content, and that’s the deal. Make sure you’ve subscribed to big content oriented resources so you don’t miss any valuable articles you can repost on your social media channels. See how 6pm.com reposted a Buzzfeed video on their page:

Don’t join those who are afraid to post anything but their links and to lose traffic. Your main aim is to give value to your readers, and if you can do it with the help of other content producers, do it.

11. Host a Twitter chat

Twitter chats are a really nice opportunity to speak to your customers directly. See how Sears is doing it, and by clicking the hashtag you’ll see the rest of the tweets they had to conduct the chat.

 

Here are a couple of tips you could use to host a Twitter chat with your subscribers:

  • announce the time and date in advance;
  • use a special hashtag;
  • ask meaningful questions, so that your readers can get value from each others’ replies;
  • reply! Always reply something to support the talk.

               

12. Show how you work

Showing what’s inside your company is a good step to transparency, and it certainly drives attention. Just remember how Buffer went famous for their almost radical transparency. Of course, you don’t need to do disclose your salaries like Buffer did, but showing small things about your work makes your brand look much better. To prove that, here’s a short video about how Overstock employees are using standing desks:

Show how your store works: processing orders and support tickets, some pics inside and outside the office, what your employees are doing Friday nights. Maybe you’ll even find new employees in this way!            

13. Branding

This is a great viral pic made by Zappos customer, but it also could be made by the brand itself.

Norm’s #ootd. Photo by: @jermzlee A photo posted by Zappos (@zappos) on

Create and make use of visual branded content. Period.            

 14. Inspire

In fact, inspiration is one of the corner stones of retail social media. The way you do it 100% depends on your audience. Have a look at the example by bodybuilding.com. Here’s why it’s the right message for their followers: it’s pushing you. Fitness and bodybuilding are all about achieving aims and hard work. The pic shows something that the readers are likely to strive for, in this particular case – a powerful, strong and magnificent body; it shows how you can be happy with the process itself. Thus, this kind of inspiration message will work for fitness people and certainly won’t work for, say, mothercare.com.

Before posting an inspirational quote or pic, make sure it suits your audience. Think of some typical characters that are your followers as well and imagine what could inspire them.

15. Fun

Fun is fun. Fun is about familiar things, things that you understand or meet every day. Looks like Staples social media manager knows what Monday archetype in the office culture is.

 

Fun, memes and stuff are a wonderful social media content idea if it’s relevant and resonates with vital problems of your readers. Identify and use the kind of humor your audience appreciates.

16. Quotes

By quotes I mean valuable, unhacked phrases. Not crappy, not too obvious, not like this:

But rather like this:

Make sure you post only quality quotes. It’s better to utilize one unique quote than a dozen of useless ones.

17. Holiday schedule

An absolute must for every e-commerce shop! See how B&H Photo designed their schedule to share it with followers:

Inform your subscribers about how and when you work during holidays. Additional information on order processing and shipment is also a good idea. This helps your customers plan shopping ahead and reduces support tickets amount as people will be aware of any delays.

  18. Consulting

Barnes & Noble announced a session of gift tips, and if you go to the hashtag, you’ll see that they actually give advice on presents.

Some retailers add gift finders onto their website, but you can also help customers choose presents for their dearest and nearest on social media. Make sure tips are given by a skilled employee to avoid cases =)

 19. Tips on product usage

The next step of the how to choose articles are post ideas on product usage. Here’s a post from cars.com on why not all the windows of the car get condensation of them.

Tell customers about how to take care of the products purchased, how to mend and repair them, and how to deal with problems that can arise during product usage period. Such posts are an anchor that tie your customers to your social media accounts even after they purchase.

20. Online trends

We’re talking about content relevancy a lot today, and here’s another example: CVS pharmacy combined Movember trend and… A slight ad of the shaving products.

Timing is the key factor for trends. The best time is to post when everybody is still excited about what’s going on but is not tired yet. For example, an ice bucket challenge in December 2014 would be mostly annoying than exciting.
 

21. New arrivals

 Use separate albums for new arrivals and regularly update them with new collections, like J.Crew does.

Make sure your social media followers have access to new arrivals albums. What is more, you could create out of stock albums so people can vote for restock in comments.

 22. How it’s made

If you have an opportunity to get the ‘how it’s made’ information from a brand or just find it on the Internet – just go for it!

If you haven’t heard that storytelling is the new black, it’s time to jump into the trend. Brands have stories, products have stories, think about telling them to the audience. Maybe the brand will be interested in helping you put the tale together?

23. Puzzles and quizzes

 Gamification, social media and e-commerce are the side of the same cube. See how Bed, Bath & Beyond is entertaining their followers:

Don’t forget about motivation! Nice if you’ll give something out as a present for those who guessed it or was the first to complete the puzzle.
Feel free to check this post: The complete guide to eCommerce gamification

24. Ask followers to share

 Another wonderful way to show customers that you do care. Ask you followers to share pics of something/someone that is very important to them, like Cabela’s did:

Make sure you moderate the comments or albums where peopel are going to share their pics or stories, so nobody gets abused if someone rude is going to turn up.

25. Ask for impressions

Ask your customers to share reviews or impressions on products, events, movies or books. Here’s the example of such an engagement rising post from CafePress:

Do your investigation homework before posting to make sure your questions are relevant and timely.

26. Write about industry fans

Does your niche have fans? Maybe they are involved into community and meet each other regularly, maybe they have Google Hangouts, or webinars, or they just chat on subject forums, or probably they organize events and campaigns? Whatever they’re doing, it’s a good thing to talk about enthusiasts in public. Look how AbeBooks tells a story about a bookclub:

To make the story about industry fans even more compelling, connect with them and ask to answer a couple of questions in the form of a short interview.
 

27. Educate

Education is a vital part of any e-commerce social media plan. Abebooks is regularly sharing complicated words connected to books and reading and explains their meaning.

From half-funny to serious educational articles and tips, this kind of social media posts is always a win. This is the straight value you’re giving to your customers. If you can’t handle this post category yourself, ask an expert, and he’ll be delighted to get featured on your social media channels.

28. Memes

I often hear that memes are the last thing you want to post on e-commerce social media accounts. And I believe that’s not true – here’s why. If you’re doing social media marketing in e-commerce or in any other field, there can’t be too simple, too stupid, too funny content. Or content not serious enough. See how Petsmart is using memes on their Instagram account:

We’re positively buzzing about our last #Hallowmeme with @Janetshamlian! #HappyHalloween

A photo posted by petsmart (@petsmart) on

The key point is not what you post. It’s how it’s working for your audience. And if memes are working for your customers, if they post it on their personal social media accounts, it’s likely a wise strategy will work for your brand.

29. Geek stuff

Sweetwater posted a funny and geeky picture, that basically works just like any other geek stuff: there can’t be too much of quality products!

Geeks and fans are a very special group of people, and it’s vital to connect with them and support them via social media. These people tend to buy more, their average check is likely to be higher, and, what is more important, they are usually involved into communities, being a loud megaphone for your brand, no matter what your reputation is. Endorse them, nurture them and give them stuff they like and value, including specific irony, humor and insider talks.

30. Facts about brands

Jo-Ann Stores shared an update on Hello Kitty Anniversary, and you can use this content idea in your e-commerce social media strategy.

Hello Kitty is celebrating her 40th Anniversary! We’re celebrating 40 years of cuteness with this #HelloKitty birthday cake!

A photo posted by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores (@joann_stores) on

Share important or valuable news about brands that you’re selling or in which your audience can be interested in. This can refer to anniversaries, brand new or innovative releases, big updates or anything that concerns customers in any way.


That’s a wrap for today, and I hope you’ve found these social media content ideas useful for your e-commerce business. Should you have any questions or additions, please welcome to the comments section.