In more ways than one, social media is heavily conducive to private business. Aside from the ability to market and promote, it can serve as a sales portal as well. This feature has given rise to social marketplace management; a whole new branch of eCommerce.
This article will give you some basic insight into managing your social marketplace and how to position it.
Social Marketplaces 101
Social marketplaces differ from other marketplaces in that they promote interaction between merchants and their customers. They facilitate product discovery through social environments where shoppers can rely on the influence of a peer network. Social features can be part of the system (Facebook Marketplace) or they can piggyback off other social media platforms.
There are numerous platforms where consumers can put up their own goods for sale. However, there is a notable difference between using Amazon to sell your goods and using social media marketplaces or using a platform that is primarily a marketplace (but nevertheless has social functionalities). The first step is to know your platform and its features.
Amazon is an eCommerce platform, while Facebook is a social media site with a marketplace within its features. The former focuses primarily on selling, while the latter focuses more on the social aspect. A social marketplace is one that is primarily a market but promotes the ability to interact with a network. This is important to remember for how your content and marketing should operate.
Social marketplaces have distinct advantages over traditional eCommerce:
- A sense of Community: social marketplaces also generate a sense of belonging to a community, such as those that cater to fashion enthusiasts, allowing user groups with similar interests to find each other
- An economy of openness: Buyers and sellers make goods for each other making them feel more like peers in a 2 sided marketplace
- Personal interaction: Also allows users to ask questions and build a rapport
Social Marketplace Functions
In terms of marketplaces, social functions that can be introduced include:
- Connecting to social media or sharing with friends or peers
- Interacting with the seller through peer-to-seller messaging
- Often a thinner line between vendors and buyers while being easier to list your products
Aside from these aspects, social marketplaces can have a fair amount of variance in how they operate. Some include highly customizable profiles, rating systems, comments sections, contact info, etc. It all depends on how far the marketplace wants to lean into the social aspect.
Facebook Marketplace is an example of a social media-heavy marketplace since everyone can put up products, leave reviews, and promote their store. Other stores like Marktplaats can be narrow on the social function but still fit the criteria by allowing for messaging and easy access to the public.
Social marketplaces are very diverse in terms of what niches they serve, so they can all have different features depending on their type.
Other Types of Social Marketplaces
Social commerce apps, sites, or marketplaces are always adding new types. However, there are a few common types that arise from the current crop. All of these include areas where customers can easily become vendors and exchange services to varying degrees.
|Social Media & Influencer marketplaces||Places where people can put up products on a social media platform or get in touch with influencers and request their services|
Instagram or Facebook
|New or Used Goods marketplaces||These marketplaces offer an area to put up used goods and get in contact with sellers in a direct way using accounts (and sometimes offering bidding options)|
|Paid-for or Sharing marketplaces||A market where someone pays for a full product or service but can share it with others, like swapping concert tickets or hitchhiking from one location to another|
|B2B services marketplace||A service area, which is usually heavily mediated, where businesses can get in touch with each other, find clients, showcase their previous work, and leave reviews for each other (often not open to the public)|
There are other types of marketplaces like Patreon that could arguably be social. However, they did not fit the full criteria established as many don’t allow for extensive contact with vendors or between buyers.
Social Marketplace Placement Strategy
While platforms like Facebook can provide a broad range of customers, niche online marketplaces have their advantages too. For example, a company selling fashion and accessories or linking to their Etsy store might have more luck with a fashion-oriented platform. It’s all about the placement.
Facebook marketplace alternatives like Marktplaats may also have a broad focus in terms of customers, but they have a narrow focus in terms of purpose. People come to a site like that to buy and trade with their peers, while a social media site is primarily for social media. Consequently, advertising conversion rates are usually far higher due to the market focus.
Broad-focus platforms suffer the highest amount of competition from eCommerce giants. Having a niche can be useful, so perform an online marketplace analysis. Here’s a handy graph that can help you out with all the factors you should consider:
From here, you will also want to measure:
- How customers arrive at your marketplace: analyse pixel data, SEO, and ad conversions
- Where do conversions happen and where do they bounce: bounce rates and exit rates
- Most bought or requested products
Using the points above, you can also decide the next most viable steps. It will inform you about whether you need to improve UI/UX to counter bounces, improve SEO/PPC campaigns, or whether the issue is with your product portfolio.
eCommerce and Marketplace Management Tips
If you’re operating a selling or sharing community within a social media platform, moderation is a must. Spam accounts always run rampant when a system is not primarily made for commerce. Similarly, keep track of scams that come inherent with open markets.
Platforms like BlaBlaCar ban people from using certain words in the chat. This serves a number of purposes. It can allow the platform to prevent sales that happen outside its framework, prevent people from circumventing the internal systems to make deals on their own (cutting your revenue), and also prevent scams. This system may be necessary if your marketplace could suffer from these issues.
Social Marketplace Ads to Attract Customers
In terms of advertising, marketplaces should be firing on all cylinders. Use as many types of advertising as possible but you should know where they factor in and what purpose they serve:
- Social Marketplace SEO: make sure you have the right keywords (especially long-tail)
- In terms of product SEO, marketplaces need to examine their niches and find, not just the right keywords for a specific product, but also the keywords for substitute products
- Branding SEO needs to focus on USPs (best prices, best qualities, free delivery, etc.)
- Email advertising: send out emails when you have special offers or need to attract customers
- Maintain an email list or get people to sign up for the website
- Remarketing and cart notification: also use emails to remind existing customers about potential purchases or items in their cart
- Targeted advertising: gain the interest of your niche with specific product placements
- A/B test whenever you can (especially when you’re finding your niche)
Video advertising is also a great way to promote your store or marketplace.
Video Formats on Social Media Marketplaces
When using a social marketplace that doesn’t belong to you, you need to be wary of the content standards. For example, when you add a video to Facebook Marketplace, it needs to be an MP4, MOV, or GIF with a 1:1 ratio. The ideal video settings need should be H.264 compression, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan, and stereo AAC audio compression. Similarly, video Captions are not supported.
With TikTok, MOV and MP4 files are best at 1080 x 1920 with a 9:16 aspect ratio. Instagram supports both those file types as well GIFs. These are worth keeping in mind as the top 3 social media sites for commerce.
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