In the United States, social media remains dominated by political arguments, pet photos and viral videos.

Business in the U.S. relies on social media for marketing. It is the fastest and cheapest way to get the word out about your product or service. According to Facebook, more than 50 million small businesses use the site to connect with their customers. That’s just one platform. Instagram is most popular with those under 35, and YouTube now is the No. 2 search engine behind Google.

While companies are increasingly focusing on social media marketing, social media commerce still lags behind other parts of the world. According to Hootsuite‘s 2019 Social Media Trends Report, 70 percent of Generation Zers in China buy directly from social. Hootsuite believes 2019 will be the year shoppers make a greater leap from social to the checkout page.

The reason is all of the social platforms have invested in better shopping tools.

  • Pinterest introduced Buyable Pins back in 2015 and now sees 55 percent of its users actively shopping for products on the site.
  • Facebook’s marketplace has a much smoother process of selling and listing items on social media and now is used in 70 countries by more than 800 million people.
  • Instagram now has shoppable posts where users can go from discovery to checkout without leaving the app.

If you’re a retail site, you want a piece of this pie and that means getting even more comfortable with video. Pictures are great and text is standard. Having videos showing off the product or service – along with video testimonials – and now you’ve really caught the attention of shoppers.

Get creative with contests. Online shoppers are savvy shoppers and potential deals catch their eyes. Make sure your contest adheres to the guidelines of the platform and create an easy-to-remember hashtag to help people share and find your contest.

Try to create your own influencers. Kick-start the process by using staff or friends to create a video series on how your product is used. Then offer promotions or giveaways to get your customers to create and share their experiences.

Focus on the data. After you’ve tried several videos, check out the numbers and build on the interest. The margin may be better on different products, but you’re wasting money if no one cares online. Build off your more popular producs – and circle back once you’ve created a following.

Livestreams can be messy and scary, but young viewers like the energy of going live. Think about the lighting and the sound beforehand. Make sure you have someone who can engage with viewer comments during the broadcast.

It’s a brave new world out there and there are a number of companies who have effectively cracked the social media selling code. Hootsuite points you towards Dr. Brandt, Glossier and L’Oreal. The old model of using social media to drive people to your website where you capture email addresses so that you can market directly to them remains effective. It’s more efficient though to master selling on social and skipping the next two.