What’s hot and happening today?
Among many other trends, both ecommerce and social media have parallel growth stories that captivate us today. The ecommerce industry is projected to reach about 370 billion dollars in transactions by the year 2017, according to Forrester Research.
Meanwhile, social media is everywhere, all the way to the point where customers have their fingers on the very pulse of any of those million conversations floating on the web. Social media has a ton of information from real customers about every brand, product, or service.
Coming from the other end, online stores benefit from unsolicited reviews, conversations about products, discussions on brands, and viral sharing on thoughts and insights.
Customers, according to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, search for information before buying anything off the shelf (virtually or in real life). If you sell t-shirts online, for instance, customers would want to know what others think of the design, quality, and pricing. They would even dig as far as delivery time compared to competitors.
New-age ecommerce stores are donning new roles as publishers! If you own an ecommerce business or if you run an online store, that’s a gift lying for you, right there on the table: ecommerce and social media can feed off each other. Want to know how?
Market with Social Ads
Social media platforms are now open for business. Start with simple ads for your products or services and float them out on social media networks.
You can optimize your campaigns even better by taking strategic decisions as to which social media platforms your ads should show up on. Not every social network is built equal. Twitter works great to keep up with the trends, to spread news, to dispense information, and to manage small conversations. Facebook is the go-to place for companies that have a primary focus on B2C and LinkedIn has a wealth of opportunities for B2B. So, where exactly are you going to be?
Almost all social platforms give you the option to target your ads to specific audiences. You’ll also end up paying per click, paying per view, or paying only for actual engagement (such as Twitter’s promoted accounts).
Pick your social network of choice and launch ads. It’s quick, fast, easy, and effective.
Shout Out with Sponsored Updates
Sponsored updates aren’t going to get you buying customers when you wake up tomorrow morning. Rather, they are a faster and more leveraged means of grabbing your prospects’ and customers’ attention on social media. Your regular updates can reach a wider and more dispersed target audience on the same platform. So Twitter has promoted tweets, Facebook has sponsored stories, and LinkedIn has updates.
While your choice of audience and targeting options remain just as they are with ads on each social platform, you aren’t really advertising – you’re only promoting “popcorn content,” as Nick Usborne, author and star copywriter, likes to call it.
Spread your Tentacles on the Social Web
Social ads and sponsored updates are the paid route to social exposure, create value, and to build traffic to your online store. That’s almost like buying your way into social media.
It’s effective and it gets results, but it’s not the end of the story.
Your paid social campaigns will not have much credibility and sustainability on their own if you don’t support your marketing spend with good old content marketing. Starting from your content across the web, you’ll need an immensely focused effort on social media platforms that apply to your online store.
This is where your organic growth on social media comes from. Your updates, seemingly meaningless conversations (which aren’t really), and small talk with complete strangers are like little seeds you’ll plant to grow an oak of a following that works for you. You’ll sow the seeds for social proof, support, and even actual buying transactions. Deploy sweepstakes, contests, and give away goodies for free and you’ll have the world talking about your business. Talk about going viral. Trust social media to deliver.
Every update on your social media networks, every churn of your content, brings you closer to a prospect, a customer, or a random sale.
Marinate Brand Recall with Communities
If social media has conversations all over the place, communities have conversations that are more focused, relevant, and direct. Unlike random updates on Twitter or Facebook, for instance, conversations in communities are threaded and continuous.
Community discussions are longer, stretch into depths, and are more immediate. As an ecommerce store business owner, you should start a community on your own. While you run and manage your community, you’ll be the pillar of support to not only moderate the discussions but also intercept and contribute to every conversation.
That’s how you build trust. While your customers and prospects continue to feed the community with articles, posts, answers, and questions, your business will benefit from more credibility, trust, and engagement.
Travel the World of Reviews
Since you are into ecommerce, it’s evident that your customers or prospects will get their inputs from reviews available online. This could be off social media directly or maybe from dedicated review sources and online communities. Depending on the products or services you sell online (and the type of business), each of these reviews affects your business. Apart from a proactive social media strategy and community initiative, you’d have to manage conversations off these reviews.
There’s only one constant here: customers will leave their opinions, positive or negative. What matters is how you react to negative reviews. Do you understand where the negative reviewer is actually hurting and respond with solutions? Are you caught in an all-time defense mode?
The reviews are inevitable. As an ecommerce business, you are expected to answer. Solve problems, clarify any overlooked points, thank positive reviewers, and be on an “approachable” mode rather than being on the defensive.
Do you have an online store with a formidable presence on social media? How has your presence on social platforms helped you so far?
Image courtesy of netzvitamine, Flickr.