The state of social media for ecommerce retailers in 2020 has changed. When we first authored this blog (based on awesome data from the industry leading Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego in early March), the world was still upright.

Shopify, Inc. reported revenue increases of 97% in the second quarter and 40% higher than expectations. That’s huge. They also note that new stores on the platform rose 71%. 

SquareSpace store setup is up. And (Automattic) is up too. These platform increases herald what we all know – we’re doing more business online as ecommerce businesses. And we’re selling more of all kinds of products, from digital products to physical goods. This switch to an ecommerce focus is necessary in a pandemic.

Big trend #1: you guessed it, the pandemic:

It’s put all of us online more than we ever were before. Social platforms Instagram and Pinterest are driving traffic, visibility AND revenue for our ecommerce clients because Pinterest itself has seen a jump of 26% in use since the pandemic, and we’re seeing this directly in the data and metrics coming out of client sites. 

Action item: Consider adding a ‘discovery’ social platform to your mix if you’re not already there. Instagram or Pinterest are both  good discovery platforms. Facebook is a connection platform. 

Video remains hot

If you can connect with customers via video (live is best), do it regularly. Recent investigative reporting by the Wall Street Journal showed Google searches favored YouTube videos OVER Facebook ones, even if the FB ones had better engagement and more views. 

Streaming video where video is headed

Think Disney+, Netflix, Prime, Hulu – but also, IGTV and YouTube. As our smart TVs show us what we should watch next, next to your suggestions for the hot hit show on Netflix, you might also find videos for hobbyists – sewing pattern tutorials, knitting tutorials, homebrewing, organizing, and makeup all appear on our TV regularly! It’s still on your TV, only the data is coming from your (creepy) apps that know what you like based on your searches. 

Action item:  LEARN to create video stories that are entertaining AND educational

TikTok is problematic but has opportunity. With its ties to China, its defiance of both Apple and Google security requirements for apps, professional organizations are advising caution with this, even with Microsoft’s acquisition. 

Use social groups like Facebook groups

Social media algorithms continue to filter most business page posts. Facebook advertising is down (partly because of a big-brand boycott in the summer) but also continues to be challenging for small businesses to target their audience effectively. Facebook USE, on the other hand, is up. People are connecting. Groups will be key here – if you can support a group, go for it, or join other groups where your customers hang out and be helpful. Once ads show up in groups, we predict that some of their luster might fade as the group posts get pushed out with paid ads. 

For all social platforms, tell a story:

Storytelling is key for social media interaction: our brains love stories, and we’re wired to them from birth. 

Fortunately Stories (that is, the technology called Stories) built into Instagram and Facebook, lends itself to experimentation with actual stories. Dive in! it’s 15 seconds, and gone in 24 hours, you have almost nothing to lose. 

Instead of promoting, tell stories. Tell customer stories, share customer-generated content, tell your own story. How did you come up with that product? Which customer inspired you to do it? Did your mom or grandmother inspire you to begin your business? How did you overcome challenges to get to that new product? 

The state of social has changed.

When we learned of the State of Social research on March 2nd(probably one of the last really large in-person conferences in the United States at the time, before lockdown) all of the news was about how video and storytelling was going to change social for business owners. The world turned upside down. We all freaked out.  But social has kept us connected, informed, entertained – and we’re all spending a lot more time on it. Take advantage of that connection to your customers. Connection first, commerce second.