Are you utilizing social media to increase your sales and strengthen your customer relationships? If you have mastered the basics with content and SEO then it may be time to consider getting involved in social media.
Social media is a great way to connect with your current and potential customers in a more personal space. Social media is where many people spend their ‘personal’ time online and let others into their own private lives. People can also find information on social media about random topics such as ways to live green or attain research paper help, and it is a platform where people can connect and share ideas.
It is most powerful in generating repeat customers and reminding people about your products or services. But not only that, it is great for encouraging interaction between your customers and products or directly with your online store. So how can you leverage social media for eCommerce?
Here I have briefly outlined a list of the top social media outlets which online stores have successfully utilized:
Facebook – Business to Customer:
Facebook ‘like’ pages (previously fan pages) allow you to stay in touch with those who have connected with your online store. The great thing about a ‘like’ page is that it is reasonably un-intrusive. As you add updates to your page they are added to the individual’s activity feed rather than being sent to their inbox. It is a nice subtle way of staying visible to your core audience who have shown an interest in your store or purchased from you before.
There are also applications like ‘Shop Tab’ on Facebook which allow you to have your store functioning within Facebook. While this may be a novelty for some people right now, there is great potential in the future for having purchase functionality in the largest online social network. The popularity of this will also likely increase as customers’ trust in online shopping increases in these new locations. Many of these Facebook store applications have the ability to plug straight into platforms such as Magento.
Facebook – Customer to Customer:
Encouraging interaction on your website or via the typical social media outlets is a great way to bolster relationships with your customers and also their friends. Allowing customers to interact with one another to utilize social media directly inside the shopping process or in parallel is a powerful way to have customers endorse or generally talk about your products.
Some stores have taken advantage of social media to get people talking about their products they have to offer. They allow people to share a product or article online with friends within Facebook, for example. You can allow customers to comment and ‘like’ your products, deals and offers, resulting in comments landing directly into their activity feeds, giving you a viral form of marketing. This will of course work better for some types of products than others.
Some stores go as far as allowing reviews, comments and purchases to feed into the activity stream of the customer on Facebook if they so desire.
Microblogging with Twitter:
Twitter is the other powerhouse of social networking at this present time. It is used by less people in comparison to Facebook but you will find those that do use it on a regular basis are often quite passionate and involved. It is another great outlet to stay in touch with your customers. Rather than directly voicing plugs for your store, I recommend a more quirky and personal approach. The most important factor with Twitter is to try to make it personal as much as possible. Don’t just use it to post up links to products as you load them into your store. If it is product-based, try to enlighten them about the product or offer it in some interesting manner and engage them in unique ways.
Integrating a latest ‘tweets’ box into your store is usually reasonably straightforward and often a good way to gain followers on Twitter.
You can engage and also grow your Twitter followers by using tactics similar to the following suggestions. You could offer unique discount codes only to those following your store on Twitter. You could run competitions exclusive to those on Twitter and actively promote this on your site and to your email database. Some online stores go as far as offering new products to those on Twitter before they are released to the general public.
Social Bookmarking / Social News:
Social bookmarking allows people to save and organize them online as well as share, search and manage them easily. People are able to look through others’ bookmarks and categories present.
Social bookmarking will work best for products that are new releases or obscure as well as blog posts and other content which are newsworthy. If you have a passionate customer database or deal with products people are passionate about, your chances for success with bookmarking are much higher. Members of these sites can then rank or vote pages up which helps other people find interesting or valuable links. Popular examples include stumbleupon.com, reddit.com, dig.com and delicious.com. It is relatively simple to add bookmarking potential to online stores.
It is also said that from the search engine point of view, the more bookmarks you have the higher you are going to rank, to a degree. It has the advantages of direct traffic as well as growing your search engine traffic.
If video is done well this can be a great way to engage potential customers. That doesn’t mean filming on a broadcast quality camera or having twenty hours of editing to take care of. It’s about engaging the customer in some interesting or quirky way. Some basic video content may be providing product reviews which many customers will find useful. Uploading these videos to video platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo is relatively straightforward and gives you access to a huge potential viewership.
Product Reviews / Comments / Customer Feedback:
Product reviews and comments help make your online store a great content source for feedback on the products you stock. This not only helps those on the site already but those searching Google. As an added bonus, as new comments and reviews are added, this often helps bring content back to the ‘new’ status from the search engine point of view. This will often result in better rankings.
Forums allow your customers and staff to interact with each other while at the same time generating content for your online store. A message board can be a great asset if you manage to pull them off and get them active with contributors. But just remember an empty and inactive message board is often not a good look. Unless you have mastered other social media its best to leave this until you have some solid experience under your belt. Even the most experienced social media experts can have difficulty in growing the participation levels within a message board.
Blogging is a great way to provide content for search engines to index as well as help increase your visitors and customer browsing time. This gives you a larger window of opportunity to convert them into a lead or sale.
Blogging, if carried out well, can also be a great way to cement your site as one of the authorities within your industry. Blogs are great for communicating your general store news, upcoming products, promotions and also to gain customer feedback.
To grow a regular audience that comes back to check out your blog, make sure you schedule regular updates. Use web analytics to determine how often posts should be made to retain regular readers. Blogs can also be a great way to personally connect with your audience. If you are not blogging yet, put it on the top of your list! There are too many benefits you are missing out on.
Other Social Media:
Chat and games are much less talked about areas. For some online stores, a chat application can allow a live questions and answers component which is well-suited to some industries. They can also be utilized for live support.
Games can be a great way to provide something unique with total engagement with your brand. But the creation of simple online games can often be costly for the benefits you will receive. Unless you have a really good idea, it’s best not to invest your time here.
By no means go and implement a strategy around every one of the platforms above.