Wondering what role social media should play in your online sales strategy? You aren’t alone. As the power of social media continues to grow, many business owners are revisiting how to mesh their social media presences with online sales strategies. Check out these tips for effectively using social media to complement and boost your online sales plans.

Encourage User-Generated Content

A powerful force of social media is that of user generated content. This term refers to content that social media users share with their online friends via social media pages. It can also be the equivalent of free marketing for online businesses. For example, if satisfied customers post pictures of your products along with a few positive comments, this may encourage their friends on social media to visit your website and purchase the same or similar products.

Harness the power of user generated content by encouraging your loyal customers to post images of the products they’ve purchased from your company, to submit reviews on your social media pages and more. Hosting a social media contest can be an effective way to spur user generated content. You can also create a unique hashtag and invite your followers to post about your company using that hashtag. User generated content can take different forms from one social media channel to the next. With this in mind, research the best ways of using each channel to encourage an increase in user-generated content.

Answer Questions, Address Concerns

According to Digital Natives and the Future of Online Retail, social media is commonly used by digital natives as a platform for asking product questions and for sharing comments about products. Tap into this common use of social media by promptly responding to all questions and comments that are posted on your social media pages. Questions that are answered quickly may be the final encouragement potential customers need to finish their purchases on your website’s e-commerce page.

Utilize Social Listening

Want to know what people are saying about you and your competitors online? Harness the power of social listening to gain insight on these and other fronts. Many online programs provide social listening platforms for conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites.

Social listening is now an important part of online sales strategies because it can provide insight on which of your products consumers prefer, what competitors are (or aren’t) doing well, everyday frustrations regarding your e-commerce pages and more. This tactic is also an excellent way to start a conversation with online users who aren’t yet connected to your social media pages or to be authentically helpful by answering questions posted by social media users.

Each social media channel offers a different purpose for connecting with online audiences, but each channel can complement and boost your online sales. From encouraging user generated content to starting conversations with consumers, begin using your social media presences more efficiently today.