Social media is a powerful marketing tool for ecommerce stores.
But running a business is hard work and it’s easy to brush content marketing aside amidst everything else that needs to be done.
She talked to ShopCreatify about how ecommerce merchants can integrate Buffer with their Shopify stores to easily plan, create and execute content marketing strategies.
Marochko worked at Shopify for three years before moving to Buffer early in 2020. She was ShopCreatify’s partner manager and had met founder and CEO, Ross Allchorn, during her visits to South Africa. In her spare time, Marochko – a web developer - builds ecommerce stores for small, female entrepreneurs in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives.
Merchants can use Shopify’s built-in tools to automate paid advertising campaigns. They can then use Buffer to do organic content marketing on their social media accounts. Buffer offers publishing, engagement, and analytics tools.
Marochko advises small and medium-sized businesses to start working on a content marketing strategy as soon as their store is live. She says that those who have a solid strategy in place show the most growth. However, she admits that doing this can feel quite overwhelming for many business owners.
The advantage of Buffer, especially for small businesses, is that you can sign up for free and connect three social media accounts. The platform contains sample marketing strategies, which you can adapt to your business’s needs. This also allows you to plan content months in advance, freeing up time to do other things.
You can manage up to 25 social media platforms on Buffer, depending on which plan you’re on. The platform lets you create a certain number of scheduled posts per month. It posts these to your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Instagram pages on your behalf at a time of your choice.
“In an ideal world, we don’t want our users to be signing into Buffer every day unless they’re responding to comments. We want them to be able to set it and forget it, so they can focus on things that are important to running their business,” says Marochko.
The higher plans also allow for multiple users, which makes it easier for teams to collaborate on content. The marketing team can share draft content with each other and even implement an approval process through the app.
Marochko points out that it’s easy to miss customers’ comments on social media pages when a business is managing multiple social media accounts. Buffer’s engagement tools help prevent this from happening. It shows all unanswered comments on one dashboard and highlights the important ones using sentiment analysis. Users can answer these comments through this dashboard.
“So many of our customers have given positive reviews of Buffer’s engagement functionality. They can now have more high-quality interactions with their customers. They can prioritize better and it’s easier to stay on top of everything.”
Buffer recently relaunched its offering to include its separate publishing, analytics, and engagement plans as an all-in-one package. Shopify merchants who are existing Buffer customers will gradually be migrated onto this combined plan.
Shopify merchants can link their store to Buffer through its analytics function. This allows you to see what impact your social media efforts have had on your business.
“Measurement is so important to figure out who your audience is, what the best time to post is, and which hashtags to use,” says Marochko. “Over time you’ll be able to create a feedback loop which you use to make business decisions.”
Your social media and Shopify analytics data will all be available in the same place so you don’t need to jump between different platforms to see and compare them. Buffer also lets you download simple, high-level reports as PDFs which use a combination of data gained from Shopify, and from your linked social media platforms.
“We really try to give our users some time back in their day. We aggregate a lot of data so that there’s one less dashboard you have to look at.”
Some of the metrics Buffer provides include average customer lifetime value, where your sales are coming from, which products are selling well, and which channel the most customers are coming from.
“You don’t have to be a marketing expert to digest the data. We’re trying to make marketing simple so that anyone can have a social media marketing campaign.”
While anybody can use Buffer, Marochko says that digitally native and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands should definitely consider it.
“Anyone from a mom-and-pop shop who have just gone online for the first time, to someone who’s been established online for quite some time can use Buffer,” she says. “They will benefit from having a more high-level approach to managing a content marketing strategy, thinking about engagement, and looking at the feedback loop.”
It’s well known that many businesses had to pivot after the coronavirus pandemic started. Those who were using social media to supplement brick-and-mortar stores suddenly had to figure out how to bring their shops to life online.
“Having a unique content marketing strategy can help new brands position themselves in a sea of other competitors. Many new, local brands who didn’t have the means to compete with big-box retailers are now getting noticed and recognized for the work that they do.”
Marochko believes that social media and ecommerce will continue to be important to one another. Many stores which started on Shopify have integrated with social media platforms and vice versa.
“It’s a very complementary ecosystem. Ecommerce doesn’t really exist without social media and social media to a certain extent has become fueled by ecommerce as well.”
Buffer offers three paid-for plans beyond its free options. Each plan can be trialed for 14 days to give you a chance to decide whether you want to continue with that option. All four plans integrate with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and all the paid plans integrate with Pinterest.
The pro plan costs $15/month and allows one user to manage eight social channels with 100 scheduled posts per channel.
The premium plan will set you back $65/month and let’s two users manage eight social channels with 2,000 scheduled posts per channel.
Buffer’s business plan is ideal for larger businesses who have many collaborators working on social media content. It costs $99/month and allows six users and 2,000 scheduled posts per channel.
Competitors to Buffer include Hootsuite and Later.
Another way that Buffer allows ecommerce merchants to create marketing funnels through social media is through their Shop Grid function for Instagram. Shop Grid lets you link to multiple products in your bio without having to use a third-party tool.
This means you can add clickable hyperlinks to product photos on Instagram, which lead customers to the product page on your Shopify store. Shop Grid is linked to your Buffer dashboard and can be managed along with your other linked social media accounts.
Buffer also offers the free Remix mobile app which merchants can use to create an image based on a link, tweet, or Shopify product to use on Instagram. This means you can create a professional-looking graphic quickly and easily without the help of a designer. You can use Remix to customize the font, colors, and style of the graphic to match your brand. Similarly, Buffer’s desktop app, Pablo, allows one to edit photos to use on social media.
Marochko has a lot of advice for Shopify merchants who want to use social media for content marketing. She encourages them to be consistent and think about their brand messaging.
“If you’re trying to collaborate with other brands or influencers, ensure they have a similar approach to business as you do. It can be quite a disjointed experience when people hire influencers that aren’t aligned to their values.”
Most importantly, Marochko says businesses should “just start”.
“You learn a lot by just doing. Because Buffer is a free tool, if you’re consistent and post on a regular cadence, you can gain so much insight from that. Don’t be afraid to try things out!”
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