As businesses go online, a strong social media strategy is becoming necessary. [Credit: Pexels]
As businesses go online, a strong social media strategy is becoming necessary. [Credit: Pexels]

With businesses pivoting online during the pandemic, more and more packages are arriving at doorsteps as e-commerce becomes increasingly popular. One e-commerce behavior survey shows that 74% of people are shopping more online now than they were before the pandemic, and 88% said they’ll continue to do so even after a vaccine rolls out to the public. 

Here are some trends that will help you score “likes” on Instagram and — fingers crossed — some customers too. 

1. Transparency Matters, Now More Than Ever

False advertising has been a persistent problem for years, costing companies millions of dollars — and their reputations. Take for example Volkswagen in 2015, who falsely claimed their vehicles were low emission and environmentally friendly. Then they had to pay $61 million to the Clean Air Act, on top of fines for false advertisement.

This makes it important to build a relationship of trust with your consumers. A 2018 Sprout study shows that 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important than ever before, with 58% claiming that companies have a moral obligation to be straightforward. Since these types of transactions normally happen online, many times customers don’t know much about who is selling to them.

Experts suggest building a “glass-box brand“or a brand that is entirely transparent. You should go the extra mile to show consumers what’s happening on the inside. If you’re a retailer, what kind of materials are you using? If you offer services, why should we choose you? Use your social media platforms not just for promotional posts, but give customers the background information they need to trust you — maybe even go live on Facebook and Instagram to share your personal story. 

[Related: 3 Surprising Business Opportunities That Arose in a No-Good Year]

2. Buying Green is Still an Important Value

The climate was on the list of important issues this election, but concern doesn’t stop there. Conscious consumers are on the lookout for what brands are harming the environment, with the threat of “canceling” brands for so-called greenwashing, the term used for businesses that make false claims about their environmental impact. Now’s the time to apply that glass-box theory and show off how climate friendly your brand is. How does your product or service sustain, if not benefit, Mother Earth? 

One study shows that 47% of conscious shoppers care about sustainable packaging more so than chemical-free or ethically-sourced products, so perhaps direct your focus there. Share posts on how you ship packages and what they’re made of. Is it biodegradable material? Or at least recyclable?

And if you’re struggling to zero in on how your brand can be more sustainable, surveying your customers can be a starting point.

3. Get Creative With TikTok

TikTok saw a meteoric rise in 2020 and proved fruitful for many (we’re looking at you, Sarah Cooper!), but the platform isn’t going to be old news anytime soon. Despite President Trump’s ultimately empty threat of a ban, TikTok is projected to continue winning hearts, minds and laughs with its viral videos in 2021. 

For online businesses, this means a major advantage. Some experts suggest TikTok can build brand awareness with almost immediate results, if you’re able to put together an attention-grabbing 15-to-60-second video. The rise of video marketing is attributed to Wyzowl’s survey that shows consumers spend an average of 16 hours a week on video content — possibly a reason why the number of businesses using video has grown to a projected 85%. The process can be relatively simple with TikTok’s in-app editing tools.

[Related: Virtual Parties, ‘Slackolades,’ Company PPE: How Women-Owned Businesses Are Boosting Morale]

4. Online Retailers, Look to New Features on Facebook and Instagram

We know you don’t have a lot of time on your hands between juggling finances, marketing, customer service and more. But if you’re a retail business, take advantage of the Shops feature on Instagram and Facebook, which makes online shopping even faster — customers can now click on the navigation tabs and look up the products they’re searching for. 

Adding this feature to your business Instagram will also put a “View Shop” button at the top of your page and redirect any visitors to your Instagram store, where you can set up a product catalogue. Same deal with Facebook. Customers can then check out either through the app itself, or they’ll be redirected to your website. 

5. Livestream Shopping Might Be the One to Take it All 

Livestream shopping is said to be the future of e-commerce in America. Before you think it’s just another gimmick to get more clicks, you might be looking at the next generation of infomercials on TV. You can host a livestream on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube or Amazon, and while you’re talking to the audience — be it about your business or perhaps a talk show with an influencer — pitch your products during “ad” breaks.

According to Bloomberg, the tool is used by entrepreneurs such as Katie Austin, a fitness instructor who hosts workouts on Amazon Live and pitches the company’s dehumidifier in between sets, and Sheri Hensley, a boutique owner who models clothes. Even if you don’t have products to sell, the same ideology can apply to other businesses — simply talk about what it is you offer. Experts say this method has more of an emotional appeal to viewers, and can lead to a new customer base. 

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