The Growth of Social Media and Ecommerce – Does It Work?

Simon Leeming
Simon Leeming Digital Marketing Director, Social Media Stream

Posted on November 19th 2012

The Growth of Social Media and Ecommerce – Does It Work?

Social Media E-ShopPurchasing behaviour has shifted over the years due to technology changing, people having less time, the impact of the recession and a whole lot of other reasons. So with the trend of more people going online to compare products and make purchases – how important is Social Media for the Online Retailer today?

Earlier this year I read some interesting information from Business Insider, which really did back up the importance of getting your Social Media Strategy in place if you are going to continue to compete online.   The information started out asking why use a mix of Social Media and Ecommerce? – also know as Social Commerce.  There are a whole variety of answers to this including:  

  • To Increase Sales
  • Enhancing Customer Service
  • Generating more advertising
  • Acquiring more leads
  • To keep up to date with Innovation

  These are all valid answers – online retailers want to attract more customers and then KEEP them coming back to make further purchases and recommendations – it is also equally important to resolve any customer issues or queries quickly to keep customers happy and Social Channels can provide an excellent avenue if structured and managed appropriately. Social Media and Ecommerce  We hear a lot about the key online trends: More people are online, social network numbers are increasing & more people use mobile devices, but what I also found interesting from the report was some of the basics:  

  • By simply adding the Facebook integrations – ‘Like’ button, to the Levi’s site, it increased web referral traffic by 40%.
  • Referrals from ‘Social Channels’ beat referrals from ‘Search Engines’ – a nice example from Rent the Runway (online fashion) estimating 200% higher conversion in Social’s favour…

  There were many other examples that gave praise to the Social Media element for online retailers which essentially came down to gaining a higher percentage of repeat business as well as generating more leads / interest from new buyers.   I find great case studies and stories on a daily basis regarding the move to ‘Social Commerce’ which is fantastic to see but these companies put a lot of investment into creating the right strategy to make the Social Networks work for them. Taking the steps to Social Commerce may seem easy on the surface – setting up Facebook , Twitter , Youtube etc , branding the website, adding buttons…..but the challenges are outside of the technical set up. Answering some basic questions:-  

  • Who am I trying to attract through Social Networks?
  • What content do I create and distribute?
  • What activity outside of Social Networks do I need to do to make the Social presence successful?
  • How do I measure the success of my Social Media Activity?
  • Who owns the Social Media project in my business?

  Many businesses have gone straight to setting up social media profiles and pages spending a lot of time creating great content but then lack any sort of conversion success – here is where the main challenge lies!   Social Commerce is a large beast but here are few hints and tips you may find useful for getting started:  

  • Research the platforms that your prospects use

  Different Social Platforms lend themselves better to different users: there are lots of statistics out there and a great example of some of them come from an article by Jeff Bullas which you can access here.  Start by describing your ‘typical customer’ – what are they interested in, where are they located, what gender & age are they etc  

  • Research Keywords

  This might sound like getting a bit technical but at the end of the day  - you need to be visible on Social Networks as well as on Google!  Make sure you know what keywords are important to your line of business and include them in bio’s, profile information, tweets, posts etc   There is a lot of advice on using Google Adwords out there: start by visiting the Google keyword tool site here. 

  • Provide Content of value – not the hard sell

  Sometimes it is good to share the great deals you have in your online store – your loyal customers and social connections will certainly appreciate what you are offering at a lower investment.  Consistently pushing discounts through your social networks however will eventually loose the attention of your community.  You need to provide relevant, interesting and fun content to your following to keep things fresh and useful – if you sell clothing then provide Fashion news & stories, great pictures and videos , invite your community to take part in online competitions – accept entries for new designs to win prizes….. This applies to all industries – think about what is going on in your sector – share interesting, useful and interactive content to support your own products & offers.  

  • Integrate Social Media Branding throughout…

  It is vital to make it easy for people to click, to follow & to like your brand – there are a whole load of items to start with:  

  • Make your Email Signature Social – add the buttons
  • Brand up your marketing brochures: make them shareable
  • Business Cards – get your LinkedIn id, your twitter handle etc
  • Make sure people can refer and share your blog posts
  • Not forgetting: add your social buttons and feeds to your website – go a step further a socialise your buttons with your product listings

  The benefit of gaining a qualified following means you have two - way communication with a targeted audience for the longer term – its not a one hit approach.  

  • Measure It.

  As online retailers know – it is crucial to know where your customers come from, what campaigns are working, and what is the conversion or return from the time & money invested.  Social Media is no different and there is a whole industry out there providing analytics tools – some from ‘free’ right up to enterprise level commercial platforms.   The key thing from ‘Measuring’ performance is – Don’t simply focus on the number of fans you have and the number of likes you have gained! Yes – it is nice to be popular and there is certain value in these numbers but the real metrics that require focus are conversion metrics. This will differ for each business but looking at the number of leads captured or tracking the source of paying customers back to Social Networks, identifying how many customer queries where answered and solved via social etc This is how you determine any sort of ROI.   Social Media Ecommerce I have just scratched the surface here regarding Social Commerce - it’s a big area and many businesses are approaching it is a variety of ways – do you see the value in making your online business Social?

 

 

Love to hear your thoughts - tweet me @thesleeming !

Simon Leeming

Simon Leeming

Digital Marketing Director, Social Media Stream

Business & Marketing Director of Social Media Stream, a specialist Digital Marketing Consultancy Headquartered in the North West England. 

Within the business I have responsibility within New & Existing customer engagements which fall primarily into the follow areas of;-

- Digital Marketing Outsourcing
- Strategic Digital Marketing Engagement
- Specialist Social Media Marketing Training

The specialist areas within the business covers Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Email Campaign Management, Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click Campaigns, Target Marketing and PR services.


Previous to Social Media Stream I held positions in Senior Sales and Marketing roles within Macrovision Corporation and Flexera Software Inc.

I have worked with many companies from Start Ups to Fortune 500 however my focus has still remained on helping businesses grow whilst keeping the business operations as lean and efficient as possible.

See Full Profile >

Comments

Great example of growth through Social Media is the daily sales of (old) product lines of Dell. By Tweeting about stockpiles of (outdated) laptops that need to go for small prices. :)

Thanks Aquaster - that is a great example - and I'm sure there is a solid ROI behind this activity. I will look into this case study in more detail.

Do you have view on companies implementing Social Media Payments directly from their Social Networks? Do you think this will become a standard practice or will companies always want to drive traffic and purchasing from their own website?

thanks

 

Simon

Social Media which has taken the online world under his control which people given first preference in there day to day life.I enjoyed reading your article

Appreciate your comments Shaam. What would you say is a companies biggest challenge when it comes to Social Media in their business?

 

Many thanks,

 

Simon

Good guiding approachs to the practice of social media to grow ecommerce business,it explained every possible measures to make the customer engagement,internet marketing,online support etc.but what about "customer retention",what kind of special steps can be folllowed to retain customers online i.e.the type of continual social media engagement?What approaches can be made to assure that those marketing intentions does not becomes a boring and irritation causing factors for loyal customers?

kaushiki@iQeCommerce

http://www.iqecommerce.com/