Reality Check: How Important Is a Social Media Following in 2023?

How much does social media actually matter in 2023? Should you work on growing your following or are there better ways to make your store successful?
Written by
Ryan Stogran
Published on
17 January 2022


  • Social media remains a crucial tool for eCommerce in 2023, influencing visibility and shaping purchasing behaviour.
  • While visibility is key, engagement trumps sheer numbers. Cultivating a loyal, engaged audience yields better results than merely amassing followers.
  • Your following can boost brand awareness and credibility, aid in customer engagement and loyalty, and directly improve sales and conversions.
  • Not all products can be promoted on major platforms due to restrictions. Businesses need alternative strategies for such products.
  • RS Creativ can help by providing you with an in-depth audit and custom growth plan for your Shopify store. We’ll show you how to improve your social media presence and provide alternative strategies if your store sells products that are restricted.

Consumer habits are increasingly formed in digital spaces, so social media has become an essential tool for growing eCommerce businesses. Not only can it be a powerful tool for attracting visibility, but it can also play a key role in shaping purchasing behaviour. With many platforms providing both a marketplace and a marketing space, building a social media following seems more important than ever.

But as we plunge deeper into 2023, does the adage "more followers, more sales" still hold its ground, or is the truth more complicated? Below, the RS Creativ team walks you through our thinking and explains what social media can do for you—along with what it can’t.

Social Media's Evolving Role in eCommerce

In the last decade, social media usage has skyrocketed, with platforms such as Instagram and TikTok commanding a substantial portion of daily screen time globally. But social media can do more than build audiences for eCommerce businesses. In fact, recent years have also demonstrated how effective social media is at changing consumer habits.

This change in the size of platforms has also been accompanied by new algorithms and marketing strategies. Notably, there has been a major cultural shift away from blatant promotion and towards fostering community and storytelling—creating not just consumers but loyal brand advocates.

Key Takeaway: Visibility is important, but it isn’t everything. Using social media to create a consistent brand and an engaging narrative will net you loyal customers who create word-of-mouth attention—which is often far more valuable than sheer impressions. Think quality over quantity—a handful of good leads are better than a thousand impressions on people who aren’t even in your target market.

Person on smartphone looking at social media page

The Value of Your Social Media Followers

So, what does having more followers actually do for your eCommerce business? There are a few major ways that having a significant social media presence can help, including:

  • Brand Awareness and Credibility: A sizeable following signals to others that people trust you—giving your brand more legitimacy in a crowded online marketplace.
  • Customer Engagement and Loyalty: Followers who interact directly and authentically with your brand are most likely to become your best ambassadors as well as your biggest customers.
  • Sales and Conversions: Platforms like Instagram and Facebook can be linked directly to your Shopify store to facilitate seamless transitions from discovery to purchase.
  • User-Generated Content and Social Proof: Satisfied customers who leave reviews provide real social proof of your product’s efficacy and appeal.

What Social Media Can’t Do

Despite the above, there are a few things that social media won’t necessarily help you with. For example, businesses in restricted verticals often can’t use popular platforms to post about certain products or services because they fall under the banner of banned content.

Examples of verticals that may face restrictions on Facebook and Instagram include:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco and vaping products
  • Gambling services
  • Medical and healthcare products
  • Ingestible supplements
  • Hazardous goods or materials

Most eCommerce businesses don’t sell these products either, but there are exceptions. For example, our work with U Vape (an online retailer for high-quality vape products and accessories designed to help ween people off of cigarettes) has focused on growth strategies outside of social media—since these products are restricted there.

Bottom line: If your store sells products that might face restrictions on social media, you’ll want to explore other methods for achieving sustained growth. But if it doesn’t, the way you build and engage with your following will be an important part of your success.

Individual on smartphone looking at social media notifications

Engagement vs. Followers: What’s More Important?

Let’s go back to quality vs. quantity. As valuable as a big following on social media can be, the real value is in those followers who interact with your brand directly and often.

There are a few easy ways to identify your most valuable followers. Consider the following metrics:

  • Interactions: the number of times people engage with your content in a given period.
  • Shares: the number of times people amplify your content on their own channels.
  • Time Spent: the amount of time people spend reading your posts, looking at your images, watching your videos, etc.

And the numbers don’t lie—better engagement actually translates into better sales. According to Constellation Research, boosting engagement helps businesses cross-sell 22% more in revenue and up-sell by 38% more.

How to Boost Engagement

Try these strategies to move away from a brand-centric dialogue to a collaborative relationship with your followers:

  • Interactive Content: Create polls, quizzes, and interactive stories on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to encourage user participation.
  • Personalized Experiences: Use data analytics and insights from platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter to tailor content, advertisements, and interactions to the specific interests and behaviours of different audience segments.
  • Community Building: Engage in and facilitate discussions, create user-generated content campaigns, and actively respond to all comments and messages to foster a sense of belonging and engagement among your followers.
Infographic showcasing social media influencer posts

eCommerce Alchemy: How to Monetize Your Social Following

Once you’re able to galvanize your followers, the next step is to turn their attention into actual conversions. This is the part most businesses struggle with—and it can feel a little bit like some kind of arcane magic—but it is possible to accomplish consistently. Here’s how:

  • Link your social media platforms to your Shopify store. Instagram and Facebook make this easy, but every platform your brand is active on should give users an easy way to reach your store.
  • Link directly to product pages. These pages are where conversions happen. Don’t just take visitors to the main page (or even your contact page)—if they’re engaging with a post about something specific you sell, make it as easy as possible for them to buy it.
  • Include CTAs in your posts. Ask for what you want—or better yet, tell people what you want them to do! Providing clear next steps in everything you post removes friction from the journey for each potential customer and leads to more conversions.

Updating Your Social Media Strategy for 2023

Social media isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it tool. Keeping your brand’s social media strategy current is the key to keeping it successful.

An audit of your current social media efforts is the best way to identify your current strengths to amplify and gaps to bridge. Consider partnering with eCommerce experts who can show you where you currently stand in your landscape and create a unique growth strategy based on your brand’s needs and objectives.

How RS Creativ Can Help

We’ve been helping Shopify store owners grow their businesses for years, so we’ve had a front-row seat to witness how social media has evolved as a tool for promoting them. Our Purple™ process is designed to give you a comprehensive snapshot of where you stand in your target market, what your opportunities for growth are, and how you can capitalize on them. This involves recommendations for your social media strategy and alternatives for businesses that operate in restricted verticals.

Contact us to learn more about how partnering with us can help you grow—or browse the FAQ below to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions about Social Media for eCommerce

Does my store need a huge following on social media to be successful?

Not necessarily. While having a large following can increase visibility and brand credibility, what's more important is having an engaged and loyal following. It's about quality over quantity. A smaller, active audience that interacts with and promotes your brand can be more valuable than a larger, passive one.

Are all social media platforms equally valuable for eCommerce?

No—different platforms cater to different demographics and have their own set of strengths. You have to know your audience. Instagram and Facebook, for example, offer integrated shopping experiences, while platforms like LinkedIn are better suited for B2B marketing.

What if my products fall under the restricted categories on social media platforms?

Alternative strategies for promoting restricted products include content marketing, SEO, email marketing, or partnerships with brands and influencers. Our team at RS Creativ will make recommendations based on your current position within the market, your available resources, and your specific goals.

Does having more followers guarantee higher sales?

Not always. While a larger following can lead to increased brand visibility and potential reach, it doesn't guarantee that all these followers will convert into customers. Engagement metrics, such as interactions and time spent, are often better indicators of potential sales.

How can I get higher-quality followers instead of random accounts?

  • Focus on producing high-quality, relevant content that resonates with your target audience.
  • Use targeted PPC ads to attract the right demographic.
  • Engage with your audience by responding to comments and creating interactive posts, which can help retain genuine followers and discourage inauthentic ones.


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