It's 7:30am on the 22nd of December in 2012 and it's COLD in East London.
My best friend and I are dragging marketstall equipment over to Brick Lane Market along with 18 pairs of female leggings we had purchased from Ebay the previous week and drawn our logo on them to make them "male".
We spend 8 freezing cold hours on the market.
Can you guess how many pairs of "male" leggings we sold?
You got it.
But we did have fun, in the following months we set up a Shopify store, designed ACTUAL male leggings and since then have sold thousands of leggings, been feature in the Mail Online and appeared on the BBC television show Dragons' Den.
And we owe most of this success to what we now call: The Social Selling Cycle.
More on male leggings later, but for now...
Allow me to entertain you with some interesting statistics for second:
Ok so CTR's for Micro Influencer posts are 5 times greater than Facebook Newsfeed Ads.
And you pay almost 10 times as much to acquire a customer with Facebook Newsfeed Ads compared to Micro Influencer posts.
(A Micro Influencer is a person with between 500-10,000 followers.)
Posts that look a little like this:
Now the question you might want to ask me now is...
"How much did you pay this person Tom?"
In fact, this person paid us for a pair of sTitch Leggings.
This person is a genuine customer of our eCommerce store.
He then went out and created this Micro Influencer advert FOR US.
(In exchange for access to an exclusive club (a closed Facebook Group) and the opportunity to be reposted on our channel, but more on that later.)
By the end of this post, you will have deep clarity on how you can get your customers to create authentic content for your brand, driving referral sales and radically reducing your content creation costs.
You will be ready...
For the impending Social Selling Revolution.
The Big Idea
The Social Selling Revolution is being brought about by 1 core idea:
"People listen to their friends more than they listen to businesses"
And why is this?
Well maybe it's because we have evolved to form strong social bonds and our bodies don't really understand or are not able to relate to fictitious entities.
Or maybe it's because the internet has reduced the ability of corporations to hide their mistakes, losing our trust when we discover them.
Anyway, you are probably thinking:
"What does this mean for my Shopify store?".
What do the decreasing click through rates on ads/emails from businesses and banner blindness mean for you?
It means that as a business you now have less influence over potential customers.
But at the same time, this means that individuals connected to your business (e.g. customers or advocates) have MORE influence over your potential customers.
Fortunately, we recognised this a number of years ago.
When we first started sTitch Leggings 4 years ago we had NO idea how to sell stuff online.
But we did know how to create a strong brand and mission.
And by doing this, when people did find us online, a high percentage of them created and shared authentic content on Instagram, tagging us along the way.
A - Gave our business a viral edge, as 20% of customers created and shared content, bringing us more customers
B - Gave us content to add to product pages for additional social proof AND great engagement on our social channels/Facebook Ads
Can you see the difference here?
Those Micro Influencer adverts were not coming from our business, they were coming from people.
People that have friends that are similar to them.
Giving exponentially greater CTR's and CPA's as per the study mentioned above.
Enough about our store, let's talk about yours... and more importantly, how to setup YOUR first Social Selling Cycle.
How To Set YOUR Three Step Social Selling Cycle
Let’s summarise what we have learnt so far...
We listen to our friends more than businesses, CTR's are decreasing and CTA's are increasing on paid business to people ads...
This gives the perfect opportunity.
An opportunity to start your very own Social Selling Cycle.
In it's simplest form a Social Selling Cycle is:
1 - Someone buys from your store
2 - This person creates and shares an authentic piece of content for your brand (instagram post, YouTube video, blog post, Facebook Live video)
3 - You use that piece of content to either boost engagement on your social channels/Facebook Ads AND to improve the conversion rates on your product pages
You can see the viral aspect here right?
When optimised, each customer that shares brings you more customers, saves you time creating content AND improves the conversion rate on your product pages (again effectively bringing you more customers).
Ok so here is the step by step:
1 - Incentivise
Reach out to each and every customer that purchases and offer them something that has low economic cost to yourself, yet high economic or emotional value to them... in exchange for them creating and sharing a piece of content including your product.
With sTitch, we offer access to a the sTitch Style Club: a closed Facebook Group where we offer early access to new designs, exclusive discounts and style sessions AND to repost any content on our social channels.
As you can see, there is little to no cost to us for those rewards, but they have a high economic (discounts) and emotional (being reposted) value to our customer.
2 - Track & Reward
Track all submissions then reward immediately AND publically to incentivise them to share further and also to spread the word with other customers.
3 - Leverage Content
Take all of this wonderfully authentic content your customers are creating and load that into three places:
1 - Add this into your social media posting schedule and be sure to tag the customer produced it (to give them some exposure and to allow your followers to connect with each other)
2 - Incorporate this into your paid advertising strategy, this works especially well on Facebook where again, people listen to people more than they listen to businesses
3 - Load this content onto your product pages to enable prospective customers to review how the product can be used AND to prove that people are already buying, providing great social proof that will skyrocket conversion rates
And there we have it...
Implementing your Social Selling Cycle will not only secure you against the impending demise of business to person interruption advertising but will skyrocket your growth in an organic and sustainable manner.
But we're not finished there...
I don't want you to get just 5% of your customers sharing, I want to get 10-20% of your customers sharing.
But to do that we are going to have to jump back into the leggings story....
How To Optimise your Social Selling Cycle
As I mentioned, we started to see a large percentage of our customers sharing (when they did find us online).
This was due to a couple of factors...
1 - Conspicuous Consumption
In the book Spent by Geoffrey Miller, he outlines a concept called Conspicuous Consumption. This basically means often people buy things not because of the actual value of the thing they are buying, but because of the way they think it will change others opinions of them.
We all have our current identity - how we see ourselves.
And our aspirational identity - how we would like to see ourselves and more importantly... how we would like others to see us.
Conspicuous Consumption is our attempt to alter other people's image of us through consumerism.
And what does that mean for us Shopify store owners/marketers?
It means that anything we can do to align our product/brand with this aspirational identity of our customer avatar, the greater sales we will make.
2 - Strong Brand/Mission
A combination of a strong brand and leveraging Conspicuous Consumption is not some scummy tactic used just by online marketers...oh no.
Check out this image of an ad I saw in London yesterday:
And note how there is 0 mention or even image of their hair products.
They are using all of that ad inventory to talk directly to their customer avatar's aspirational identity.
Bed Head sell extreme hair products, their customers aspirational identity is to be the person in a social group that breaks the rules - that has crazy hair.
I saw another recently as I was rolling through Geneva Airport two weeks ago for a watch brand.
Again, there was little mention of the product, just an image of three males from consecutive generations looking VERY happy and VERY healthy with just the tagline:
You don't buy a [[Swiss watch brand name]] just to wear it, you merely look after it to pass onto the next generation
This ad guy deserves a medal.
Not only do they subsciously suggest that the watches are extremely long lasting, but they talk directly to the aspirational identity of their customer avatar: a guy that has high family values.
(I wish I got a picture, if anyone knows this brand please comment below)
Here are a couple more:
Tagline: Just Do It
Aspirational Identity: Active person that pushes themselves to their limits
Tagline: Belong Anywhere
Aspirational Identity: World traveler that values connection with a places and the local people
And perhaps the most well known of all these brands:
sTitch Leggings Tagline: Enabling Men To Wear What They want As Opposed To What They Should Aspirational Identity: Man that defies convention and doesn't care what people think about him
The stronger emotional connection you can make between your brand/mission and your customers aspirational identity the greater your post purchase social sharing percentage will be.
And where is the best place communicate this with your community?
Here are a few of the places we do this with sTitch:
We don't have an "About Us" page or "Join Our Newsletter" call to action:
We state our mission right on our homepage and include supporting content:
(Yes we did go on national television in leggings and no we did not get investment ;))
Our product page copy also fits in with the brand story:
And here is proof that it connects with our customer avatar:
We tell our story, repeat our mission and talk more about our "crusade" to liberate the modern man from conventional fashion on our "Philosophy" page:
And we repeat this theme in our emails:
In summary, any opportunity you get to repeat your cause/mission you should... as if you get this right... it will connect directly with that aspirational identity of your potential customers, creating the emotional connection required to drive up your post purchase share rate.
And what is the result of all this Social Selling Cycle stuff?
To put it bluntly, a significant increase in the lifetime value of your customers.
And what does that mean?
It means that each customer you acquire will be worth more to your business... thus effectively enabling you to go out and invest more time and resources into acquiring customers.
And as Ryan Diess of Digital Marketer once said:
"The person that can pay the most to acquire a customer wins"
You will be able to market your competitors out of the the market.
Unless they implement a Social Selling Loop of course, but fortunately, not that many people know about this yet...
Sound Too Complicated?
Sometimes as a business owner you just want to delegate to staff members or a computer program so you can spend more of you time higher leverage tasks in your business, or actually doing the stuff you like doing with your life.
Which is why...
After asking our VA Manager how long she spent operating our Social Selling Cycle (1-2 hours per day!), James Bradley and I decided to automate her out of a job.
And we did...
The Social Selling tool that automates the sTitch Leggings Social Selling Cycle.
Our VA Manager now invests her time in higher value tasks than chasing people to share then collecting, organising and distributing the content, enabling us to grow the business further.
We allowed a few strong Shopify brands into the first version of the tool as part of our Beta Program:
To gain feedback and iron out any bugs.
77 Shopify brands (and growing) have truly "Set & Forgot" their Social Selling Cycle with the Sneez Social Selling software.
A total of 247 post purchase social sharing Campaigns are currently running with 709 Submissions received.
I'm going to stop selling now.
Because I really don't need to.
As the tool is free forever...
(Up to 5 Customer Generated Content Submissions, no credit card required)
And when you're in, we can send out an email to all of your previous customers requesting them to join a Campaign, bringing you enough revenues (not to mention the time saved) to pay for the software for a year anyway ;)
And just incase you weren't sure...
Here is what one of current Sneezer's had to say about us and the software:
“I love that it takes the heavy lifting of generating social traffic off our hands and literally automates the entire process for us. I can truly 'set it & forget it' and the software will make sure our customers are sharing the word about our products and duly rewarded for doing so! It's 'Miracle Gro' for the growth of our brand and tribe!”
Anna, CEO - StrictlyViral.com
Anyway, you can see what Sneez does for your Shopify Store by clicking here.
See you on the inside.
Oh and if you think any of your Shopify buddies could benefit from joining us in the Social Selling Revolution, feel free to use the social sharing icons below to send this post over to them.
Let's use Sneez to get your customers sharing like crazy.
- Free account
- 30 second setup
- No credit card required