30 social media marketing ideas from big brands

Hi Amasty blog readers!

Several weeks ago I was talking to a friend who runs a small e-shop. She and her assistant run social media themselves, as they can’t allow a social media manager, and, frankly speaking, they don’t need one, as their potential audience is not so wide, and the girls are doing a good job. But my friend complained that she run out of ideas.

Indeed, marketers say that we should give our audience something useful, entertaining, something they’ll love or enjoy, something that solves their problems and makes their life better.

What if you’re stuck with content ideas? Really, can you name at least ten unique social media posting types apart from sharing shop news and discounts, gift cards, blog posts and items you want to promote?

To help you with that, I picked 30 ideas for social media posts that proved to be working as big e-commerce brands used them in their social media campaigns. So whenever you run out of topics, you just open this post and browse through to get some inspiration.

1. Show exclusive/funny/unique items

This Amazon post with the link to a selfie mirror is the point where you know how to tease your audience. The proof is the number of ironic comments. But should you really post only ‘OMG that’s cute’ items? Besides, this particular thing is a great funny present. The result is: comments, shares, likes, traffic and engagement. People engage, express their feelings – that’s what you want.


2. Ask a question

But asking questions is an art too. What I love about this Etsy post:

  • It’s unique – and people believe the company cared because they made a special photo for the post;
  • The question is relevant, it’s not too simple and does not look like ‘we posted a question because we were told to do so’;
  • The question is of great use for readers, because they can share nice experience and use this information while shopping.

3. Reshare customers’ posts

It’s not a big reveal that customers share purchases on their social media accounts. And you’re lucky to have instruments to track these posts. Resharing such content kills two birds. First of all, you show that real people trust you, buy from you and are thankful enough to show it. Secondly, you show that you care and are thankful for mentioning.






4. Be creative


I absolutely adore this small video from Gap: it’s cute (forgive me this triviality) and it’s a great idea to combine the worldwide trend on drones with apparel ads. And it’s a potentially viral thing.






5. Don’t forget national days and holidays


Macy’s not only thanked the veterans, but also shared a link to a charity organization website, where you can donate to help those who served for their country and now are in need. As Macy’s has about 15 billion likes on Facebook, it’s a real instrument of help.




6. Sneak Peeks

Macy’s created a Black Friday Sneak Peek board so the customers can choose items they want to buy in advance. It’s a great way to let shoppers plan their budget and have more satisfaction from shopping. When Black Friday comes, they won’t be looking through all the categories and will go straight to the items they wanted.
Social media post ideas: sneak peek

7. ‘How to choose’ advice

How to choose tips have two big advantages:

1. It’s evergreen content, and you can repost it from time to time, which also saves your own time spent on social media posting;

2. It’s the content that raise your customers’ satisfaction. By learning how to choose items properly customers eventually make better choices, which makes them happier.

See how Macy’s presents short how to choose videos on their YouTube channels:


8. Be different when sharing products

Sure, the most of the posts by retailers are showing items available at the moment. But everybody in retail social media is doing that, and you have to stand out of the crowd.

Have a look at the strategy Nordstrom is using on their social media accounts. You can just share a link to the item and add its name or even price. Or you can do something like this:

9. Connect with bloggers

Here’s the example: H&M retweeted a blogger’s tweet featuring their brand. There are plenty of ways you can build relationships with bloggers, and the first step is to share relevant posts created by bloggers from your niche.







 10. Make use of others’ content


Who says you can post your content only? If someone does, he’s wrong. There are powerful content producers in almost every niche. They want you to share their content, you want quality content, and that’s the deal. Make sure you’ve subscribed to big content oriented resources so you don’t miss any valuable articles you can repost on your social media channels. See how 6pm.com reposted a Buzzfeed video on their page:



11. Host a Twitter chat

Twitter chats are a really nice opportunity to speak to your customers directly. See how Sears is doing it, and by clicking the hashtag you’ll see the rest of the tweets they had to conduct the chat.






12. Show how you work


Showing what’s inside your company is a good step to transparency, and it certainly drives attention. Just remember how Buffer went famous for their almost radical transparency. Of course, you don’t need to do disclose your salaries like Buffer did, but showing small things about your work makes your brand look much better. To prove that, here’s a short video about how Overstock employees are using standing desks:






13. Branding


This is a great viral pic made by Zappos customer, but it also could be made by the brand itself. 








 14. Inspire


In fact, inspiration is one of the corner stones of retail social media. The way you do it 100% depends on your audience. Have a look at the example by bodybuilding.com. Here’s why it’s the right message for their followers: it’s pushing you. Fitness and bodybuilding are all about achieving aims and hard work. The pic shows something that the readers are likely to strive for, in this particular case – a powerful, strong and magnificent body; it shows how you can be happy with the process itself. Thus, this kind of inspiration message will work for fitness people and certainly won’t work for, say, mothercare.com.






15. Fun


Fun is fun. Fun is about familiar things, things that you understand or meet every day. Looks like Staples social media manager knows what Monday archetype in the office culture is.










By quotes I mean valuable, unhacked phrases. Not crappy, not too obvious, not like this:



But rather like this:

17. Holiday schedule

An absolute must for every e-commerce shop! See how B&H Photo designed their schedule to share it with followers:

  18. Consulting

Barnes & Noble announced a session of gift tips, and if you go to the hashtag, you’ll see that they actually give advice on presents.





 19. Tips on product usage


The next step of the how to choose articles are post ideas on product usage. Here’s a post from cars.com on why not all the windows of the car get condensation of them.




20. Online trends

We’re talking about content relevancy a lot today, and here’s another example: CVS pharmacy combined Movember trend and… A slight ad of the shaving products.





21. New arrivals




 Use separate albums for new arrivals and regularly update them with new collections, like J.Crew does.



 22. How it’s made

If you have an opportunity to get the ‘how it’s made’ information from a brand or just find it on the Internet – just go for it!


23. Puzzles and quizzes

 Gamification, social media and e-commerce are the side of the same cube. See how Bed, Bath & Beyond is entertaining their followers:


24. Ask followers to share

 Another wonderful way to show customers that you do care. Ask you followers to share pics of something/someone that is very important to them, like Cabela’s did:


25. Ask for impressions

Ask your customers to share reviews or impressions on products, events, movies or books. Here’s the example of such an engagement rising post from CafePress:


26. Write about industry fans

Does your niche have fans? Maybe they are involved into community and meet each other regularly, maybe they have Google Hangouts, or webinars, or they just chat on subject forums, or probably they organize events and campaigns? Whatever they’re doing, it’s a good thing to talk about enthusiasts in public. Look how AbeBooks tells a story about a bookclub:





27. Educate


Education is a vital part of any e-commerce social media plan. Abebooks is regularly sharing complicated words connected to books and reading and explains their meaning.




28. Memes

I often hear that memes are the last thing you want to post on e-commerce social media accounts. And I believe that’s not true – here’s why. If you’re doing social media marketing in e-commerce or in any other field, there can’t be too simple, too stupid, too funny content. Or content not serious enough. See how Petsmart is using memes on their Instagram account:

We’re positively buzzing about our last #Hallowmeme with @Janetshamlian! #HappyHalloween

A photo posted by petsmart (@petsmart) on Oct 10, 2014 at 2:02pm PDT

29. Geek stuff

Sweetwater posted a funny and geeky picture, that basically works just like any other geek stuff: there can’t be too much of quality products!

30. Facts about brands

Jo-Ann Stores shared an update on Hello Kitty Anniversary, and you can use this content idea in your e-commerce social media strategy.

Hello Kitty is celebrating her 40th Anniversary! We’re celebrating 40 years of cuteness with this #HelloKitty birthday cake!

A photo posted by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores (@joann_stores) on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:11am PDT

That’s a wrap for today, and I hope you’ve found these social media content ideas useful for your e-commerce business. Should you have any questions or additions, please welcome to the comments section.