The seed of social media may have largely been planted by some aggressive and hormonal college kids, but the evolution and power of this massive force is now part and parcel of nearly every competitive business today. Not only has social media become expected in business, but it has also become absolutely integral in customer connection and retention. Social shopping, an e-commerce method by which consumers use social media to involve their “friends” or “followers” in their purchases, is becoming increasingly popular and effective for businesses. Experts predict 2012 will be the biggest year yet.
Let’s face it: we rely on the Internet and our social media networks for everything from party invitations and movie recommendations to stock tips and political revolution updates – why would shopping be any different? In the past couple of years, social shopping has grown leaps and bounds with numerous daily deal websites such as Groupon and Living Social, location check-ins, and Facebook Shopping. These social shopping methods not only offer limited time deals to consumers, but also make it incredibly easy for their customers to “share” their purchases through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
1. Get Data
First things first: You need to figure out where your site visitors are sharing your products. Without this information, you won’t know where to focus your social media energies.
AddThis provides data on social sharing trends which you can use to make some generalizations about social sharing right out of the gate. For example, right now social media networks make up almost half (44%) of all the sharing done with their service. It might help to add a “Share this” button for Facebook on your product pages.
But that data isn’t specific to your site. Who knows where your site visitors are sharing? They might be doing most of their sharing on Twitter or email.
The biggest benefit from tools like ShareThis and AddThis might be the sharing analyticsthey provide. You can figure out where your site visitors are sharing your products, and that information is invaluable.
You can also use Google Analytics with their click tracking and goals. Twitip has an excellent tutorial on how to track Twitter conversions and click data that you could use for any other social media site as well.
Once you figure out where your shared traffic is going, then you can modify your site’s design to highlight those services. After all, you don’t want 74 sharing buttons littering your product pages when you’re trying to sell a product.
2. Set up Facebook and Twitter profiles
Your site does have a Twitter account and a Facebook page, right? These two are the “big guns”, with hands-down the most traction for your social media efforts. (Be sure to follow @toprank)
You have to focus first on what social media networks make the most impact, and these two services are the best places to start.
3. Find unique places for sharing buttons
Instead of using a generic sharing widget in the same place across all your sites, try putting sharing features in prominent placements in different places in your site’s design.
For example, after a customer creates a review of a product, give them an easy way to share the review with Facebook friends or Twitter followers. They’ve already shown they’re in sharing mood by filling out a review, why not capitalize on the good vibes? You could create a simple link that sends the url of the page to their Twitter account to send, or use a Facebook share button.
Here are some other unique places on your site that you might put sharing links or widgets:
- The thank you page, after making the order.
- sale confirmation email
- mailing list email templates
There are plenty of other nooks and crannies on your site that you could add sharing links. Don’t feel limited by this list. Just click around your own site for more ideas.
4. Add product videos
Videos are great sales tools. People like seeing a product in action, so video is an excellent way to improve sales. Companies like Zappos have seen major increases in sales just by adding product videos.
But aside from the improved sales, adding product videos on YouTube or other video sharing sites adds another social factor. People like sharing videos, and they’re more likely to embed the videos other sites. Videos are a great way to add a viral factor to your product pages.
5. Engage customers
It’s one thing to just create a Facebook page or Twitter account, but it’s another thing to actually engage with followers. Social media takes work, you have to daily interact with followers to be successful. Easy to say, much harder to do.
Figure out who’s talking about your brand (or your competitors) and open a dialog.
Social media is a great tool to help promote products away from your ecommerce site. You can get people to your site with social media, and once they’re on your site you make the sale.
6. Add exclusivity
Make a strong call to action for your visitors as to why they should follow your brand on Twitter, Facebook, or any other network. Include special offers, coupons, tips, and other things that customers wouldn’t get unless they were following you on social media sites.
7. Don’t stay in “sell mode”
Companies often only post things related to selling on their social media profiles. But that doesn’t provide much benefit to your followers, does it? People want more from social media than just a constant stream of sales pitches.
Use your social media profiles to tell customer stories, stats, news, and other things related to your business.
Here’s a crazy idea: what if you shared one of your competitor’s deals? You’d show that your brand is interested in helping your followers, not just making money from them. It would be insanely useful to your fans, and it would add trust and loyalty to your brand.
8. Integrate your customer service strategy with your social media strategy
People are already talking about your brand on social networks, and odds are a few of them are venting frustration about something. Instead of waiting for them to call or email you, diffuse the situation by reaching out to them.
There are plenty of success stories of major brands reaching out to unhappy customers and diffusing situations quickly with social media.
9. Track what people click on social media sites
Url shorteners like bit.ly give excellent click analytics. When you share links on social networks, you can track and see how many people are actually clicking the link.
Knowing what gets people to actually click a link means that you can tailor your messages to get the most impact from your social media efforts. For example, you might find that your followers click a lot more on links to coupons versus links to product updates.
You could even drill down how effective types of links are across different social media sites. You might find that your Facebook followers like to click on coupons, and your Twitter followers like breaking news.
The more you know about your followers and what they like, the more useful you can be to them.
10. Give back
Giving back creates trust, which is crucial for your brand. Think of ways that you can be useful to your followers. Share news and tips that they’ll find helpful. Ask their opinions. Give them coupons. Interact with them.
The important thing is that you’re openly trying to be helpful to them. The more useful you are to your following, the more loyal they’ll be to your brand.
What creative social media marketing tactics have you implemented with your ecommerce site? Have you noticed rules of thumb recommended that do not apply to your situation?