Social media is an ideal way to boost brand recognition, identify issues, share your wares, and above all – connect with your customers. So what is the best way to delve into social media for ecommerce? Check out our top 3 steps right here:
1- Create pages and identities on the social media sites Sounds like a simple instruction but this is where the biggest decision has to be made. Is Facebook the place for your customers? Or is Twitter where they can be found? Don’t forget LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.
If you are in a narrow market, figure out what niche sites exist that cater to your customers – you might be surprised to find that the smaller niche sites may be a better place for you to invest your efforts.
You can’t be on every social media site, so do your homework first and see what sites you need to be on. Don’t be afraid to register on all the major sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+), if only to reserve your name – and to keep others from using it.
2 – Use social sharing buttons on your ecommerce web site From your home page to the product pages, every individual page on your site should have social sharing buttons so that customers and potential customers can share your site with others. Make it easy for them! If your shopping cart software has buttons already configured, be sure that they work properly – many times the hardcoded buttons simply create a new page on a social site (like Facebook, for example) but they don’t post anything on anyone’s timeline which is where you want to be!
Pick and choose which buttons you want to appear on your product pages based on which social media sites you are active on. Showing 15-20 (or more!) social buttons just clutters up the page and may deter someone from sharing easily.
Don’t forget – liking (or following) a business is different than liking (or following) a product on a product page. On your home page, ask people to like or follow you so that your future posts or tweets are visible to them. Be sure that the correctly coded button is available to make it easy for them to like (or follow) you.
3 – Set aside time every day for social media tasks For many ecommerce sellers, this is the hardest step to beginning. Even if you only spend 15 minutes a day monitoring, posting and sharing content, that will give you a presence on social media sites. If you have staff that can do this for you, even better! Just be sure to set the guidelines about posting like what is appropriate messaging and what is not and how much time you want them to spend on the different sites.
If you maintain more than one identity or are active on more than one social media site, you might want to take a look at some of the social media software that is available to increase productivity and monitor results. Software such as Hootsuite can be had for free for up to 5 identities. Of course, their paid version is far more robust but if you are just starting out, their free version might be all you need for now.
The Internet Merchants Association and its sponsors recently presented eight educational sessions to the ASD trade show attendees. The bi-annual sourcing show was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center with over 30.000 visitors in attendance.
Platinum and Diamond level sponsors including Vendio, Alibaba and MIVA Merchant were among the featured speakers on topics ranging from integrating social media to building effective web sites and search engine optimization.
Most of the speakers have provided their slide decks so that session attendees can review them and download them. The slide presentations are available at slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/imamerchants
The Internet Merchants Association is now accepting applications for the March, 2011 educational sessions. Speaking preference is given to all IMA Platinum and Diamond level sponsors. Interested parties can learn more about the speaking and membership opportunities by contacting Pat Pepe. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I budget a lot of money on seminars every year, I feel my education is important to me and my business. Although IMA is fairly a new trade association, I continue to be impressed with the conferences that is put on. This year’s conference, which I’m still thinking about, was no exception.
I didn’t have the opportunity to go to all of the ASD & IMA seminars (this photo by IMA president Fred Neff is of just one of the well-attended seminars).
Because I’m familiar with videos and blogging, the rest of the social media venues and networks intrigue me most. So I found this video extremely powerful, and I hope you’ll take the time to watch it.
I keep remembering what Rick Wilson of Miva Merchant (an IMA diamond member) said: social media is a “circle of life.” It’s about the three C’s: connections, then conversation, and then conversations. So if we can build a community of supporters for our businesses and give them good content, they can help us tremendously with our marketing.
Here are some free tools I learned about at the conference:
Backtype.com, which is a real-time tool for you to keep tabs of what people are saying about your business
Alterian has a freemium version of its monitoring service for you to monitor your social media venues
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions, who will be speaking at the 2010 IMA Conference next month. If you haven’t already, sign up here.
Whether it is jungle drums or smoke signals, humans have always improvised methods of communications and connections to each other. Village gatherings formed early social circles and networks. Communications have always been evolving – messengers carrying messages on horseback to the pony express to railroads to today’s USPS, UPS and Fed Ex all satisfy the need of communications.
Have you noticed some of these communications means have survived? Even though we do not use the telegraph, we use the Internet to communicate with short messages today called microblogging.
For a business it is both a challenge and a necessity to find new ways to increase the efficiency of your business.
In the past businesses could make the changes and expect the customers to adapt. In the new millennium, media is now more often in the hands of the users and businesses are beginning to adapt. The Internet, websites and social networks are now replacing village gatherings and spanning users across the globe communing together to discuss common interests, discuss products and companies.
The speed at which conversation spreads has changed the pattern of how movie reviews worked. In an August 2009 article Michael Sragow wrote in the Washington Post, “Although word of mouth could always make or break a movie, it usually took days to affect the box office. But the rise of social networking tools such as Twitter might be narrowing that time frame to hours. And that has Hollywood on edge.”
As a business owner wouldn’t you like to know what your customers are talking about when it comes to your products and your business? These new media tools also give business the same power to learn feedback almost instantaneously.
The 3-step process you could use to shape your strategy is:
Think of the listening phase as an extension of your existing communication and feedback mechanism. The main difference is that feedback through email, phone calls, web forms and maybe even snail mail is mainly directly to you – social networks offer an opportunity to listen in on to public conversations about you. Here’s what you do:
1. Set up Google Alerts
2. Search for your brand /product or your company or your geographical area on http://search.twitter.com
3. Use a tool like Backtype to monitor comment conversations on blog posts.
In the listening phase, you have identified where the conversations relating to your business are taking place. Now, you can participate by showcasing your knowledge and thought leadership or even asking for feedback:
1. Setup profiles in at least 3 social networks which you have identified as helpful for your business (Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter could be the three)
2. Identify 3 blogs on your particular field or industry to follow. Comment when you have a opinion. In case you are mentioned in any blog post head over the blog and thank the author
3. Look at the questions on networks like Linkedin to add your expertise
This is the phase where you will have learned enough about the conversations about your business and your products to be able to begin creating valuable content that is not about you but your customers and the community:
1. Make sure you have a website. You can get one for free at Network Solutions
2. Start a Facebook Page and encourage your customers to become fans of your page. Create special offers for your Facebook Fans
3. Reinforce your web presence with a blog. Make the blog personal along with writing useful tips for your customers. It does not always have to be about your products., Invite your customers to tell their stories.
You should measure the success of your efforts in terms of increased brand mentions, foot traffic or online traffic, increase in customer satisfaction or higher product awareness leading to higher customer uptake.
Remember all these tools are making human connections so you should show the personality behind your business. And make sure you remember your goals for engaging in social media for your business, since these tools can also be distracting if not used diligently.
When I speak at conferences the best reward is the communication or Twitter messages I get from the audience, sometimes even after a year, with some good news about using social tools for great success. I am hoping the same thing will happen when I speak more on the topic at the IMA conference in March. If there are some topics you would like to hear about specifically please let me know.
Israel, Shel, Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods. Portfolio Hardcover (September 3, 2009)
Scott, David Meerman, The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly. WILEY, (June 4, 2007)
Shashi Bellamkonda is Director – Social Media & Social Media Swami of Network Solutions, a company that works together to help small business succeed online with web hosting, do-it-yourself website builder software, online marketing tools and domain names. Visit his blog here. Shashi is a regular contributor to the DC Examiner and Tech Cocktail. This article contains the opinions and observations of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Network Solutions or its clients or partners. Connect with Shashi on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or BizSugar.
We all think we are the best person to grow our business. The best person for SEO, the best web designer, the best IT person, the best at everything we do. But the problem is that your competitors think the same. The e-commerce industry moves so fast that it is actually impossible to keep up with all the trends and changes. You need help; we all need help to stay ahead of our competitors.
I have taken my education very seriously the last few years and to be honest, the improvement in my bottom line is the proof that it was well worth it. I have gone to business seminars, web design conferences, SEO conferences and many marketing seminars and to me, the cost of being away from my business and the conference expenses were worth every penny. A conference can cost up to thousands of dollars and when you spend this kind of money, it is important to make sure that this investment is going to help your business grow.
One of my favorite conferences that I look forward to every year is the one from the Internet Merchants Association (IMA) which will be held in Las Vegas, March 2-3,2010. It is presented in conjunction with the ASD/AMD Sourcing Show where IMA offers free business seminars to the attendees. This year on the 1st & 2nd of March, IMA will present titles that include “The ABCs of Web Design”, “Big Ideas for Small Businesses” and “Get Found in Search Engines: SEO 101″ to just name a few.
Rick Wilson, Vice President of MIVA Merchant will present an important topic at the IMA Conference, “Top 10 Tips for Designing a Great Checkout Process.” I look forward to hearing what expert Rick has to say about the checkout process. The checkout process for your customers is so important and if your customers “don’t get it” then you can be out of business quickly.
While I love to blog, I am not consistent with the “other” social media stuff. I really do understand it but there has to be a way to make it more financially viable for my business. “Nine Ways to Make Your E-Commerce Site More Social” will help me pull it all together and complete my 2010 plan for my business. Another title that I am looking forward to attending at the IMA Conference in March is “How 21st Century PR Can Build Your Brand”.
The results are in…and social media is more than just a passing phase, particularly in e-commerce.
A new study by Oneupweb that was released earlier this month showed that “social sites are creating much more online traffic to e-commerce sites” which bolsters the argument that e-commerce sellers need to be involved in social media to drive traffic and business.
The study showed a significant shift in traffic at the largest e-commerce sites, review sites and social sites over the last two holiday seasons. Consumers are using the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to search for product information and recommendations.
“The integration of social media and online search provides consumers with a way to quickly search for information, reviews and price comparisons,” explains Oneupweb’s Founder and CEO Lisa Wehr. “It’s clear that social media is influencing search behavior and affecting the purchases a consumer makes.”
Wehr’s observations suggest that e-tailers should be “embracing social media.” Oneupweb’s study, containing examples of how some e-commerce merchants are using social media to drive traffic, can be downloaded at their site: www.oneupweb.com
The Internet Merchants Association wants to know how you are adjusting your business to reflect the growth of social media, especially with the holiday season nearly upon us.