- Research – The first step in optimizing your social media efforts, and indeed, the first step in any process, should be to gather data about your customers. Find out where your customers share information. More importantly, find out where your customers share information about your brand and/or product. Once you know where your customers talk about you, you can join their conversation – rather than requesting that they join your own. Furthermore, once you know which media your customers use to share information, you can modify your site to make it simple for them to use those media to talk about your brand(s) and/or product(s). Tools like ShareThis and AddThis provide sharing analytics that can help you identify where your site’s visitors share.
- …Join ’em – Make accounts on the social media sites where your customers share. This will make it easier for you to communicate with them, and more convenient for them to receive information from you. After all, you are going where they want to be, right?
- Enable sharing – Once you know where your customers are, make it simple for them to share your content on the social media site(s) of their choice by placing sharing widgets throughout your site. Experiment with the location of your widgets by placing them in different places on the various pages of your site. In addition, you might consider placing sharing widgets on your thank you page(s) (i.e., after an order has been placed), in your sale confirmation emails, and in your mailing list emails.
- Make your products viral – A number of ecommerce organizations have increased their product sales simply by creating and publishing product videos. Individuals are more likely to remember information when it is presented in an audio-visual format (rather than in a visual form), and furthermore, if your videos are somehow noteworthy, then your customers will share them. In this way, your customers will voluntarily make your information more viral, thereby generating greater brand awareness, and possibly influencing more product sales – without any direct influence from you.
- Engage your customers – Making your social media sites is not, in and of itself, enough. You must constantly communicate with your customers in order to generate interest in your product(s) and/or brand(s). Figure out who’s talking about your company and start a conversation with them. Promote your brand(s) and/or product(s) through relevant conversations. Then, direct customers to your ecommerce site; that is where you will make your sales.
- Provide incentives – The best way to influence your customers to follow your social media updates is to provide special offers, coupons, tips, and other related items that your customers would not receive unless they followed you on social media networks.
- Do more than just sell – Social media is about more than publicizing sales pitches to your customers; it is about participating in conversations about your product(s) and/or brand(s). Tell customer stories and/or share news or stats or other information related to your business. If you are truly daring, then share some information with your customers about your competitors. If employed appropriately, this practice will build trust and customer loyalty around your brand.
- Connect your customer service – Inevitably, there will be some customers that will be unsatisfied with the product and/or service they receive from your organization – and they will talk about it on social media sites. Instead of waiting for your disgruntled customers to contact you, mitigate the situation by reaching out to them.
- Track results – Find out what makes your customers click your links. Use a URL shortening service (such as that provided by bit.ly) to access click analytics and discover which links users click. Perhaps you will find that your customers are more likely to click links that house coupon codes rather than product information. Or, you might find that Facebook users are attracted to different types of links than are Twitter users. Use the information you learn from your click analysis to create more effective links (i.e., in terms of helping your customers and generating returns) in the future.
- Be useful – Find ways to help your customers. Share news and tips with them, ask their opinions, give them coupons. All in all, interact with them. When you help your customers, you build brand loyalty – and that is priceless.
By Carla Pizzino : Headquartered in Medina, Ohio, Rapid Marketplace provides complete, personalized ecommerce solutions for manufacturers, distributors, and small businesses. For more information about Rapid Marketplace or ecommerce, visit Rapid Marketplace at http://www.rapidmarketplace.com.