Social media is here to stay. An emarketer study “Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates,” estimates that almost one in four people around the world already use social networks, and that the total number of social network users would increase from 1.73 billion in 2013 to touch 2.55 billion people worldwide by 2017.
Social media is also all-pervasive, having a say in most aspects of life. This is nowhere more true than in ecommerce. Marketers already use social media to promote their wares, and customers are seeking independent reviews and opinions on products and services through social channels. Social media is also fast becoming the channel of choice for marketers and customers to interact with each other. However, brands cannot afford to assume that customers would flock to them by simply having a social presence. Social media has actually demolished barriers of cost and effort, and it is now a free for all jungle. In such a state of affairs, brands face severe challenge to be heard and to reach out to their targeted customers.
Integrating social media with ecommerce is the way forward for brands to retain their relevance. Surprisingly, despite customers using social media to research and find products, and marketers using social media for marketing and promotion, a PriceWaterhouseCooper study lists that seven out of ten people never use social media sites to purchase items or services, even though about half of them check these sites daily. What this implies is that there is a disconnect between awareness of social commerce and its adoption.
Many measures that bring social media closer to ecommerce are already popular among marketers. This includes facilitating social media plug- ins for the product page for visitors to like the page and follow the brand’s social media page, enabling social sign-in that allow customers easy access without the hassles of having to type in their details, allowing user generated social media content such as reviews on the ecommerce page, showing what products are trending, and reminding users to share their likes and purchases. Much more work is however required to truly leverage the power of social media to further ecommerce.
Here are 6 proven tips that allow brands to leverage social commerce to further their ecommerce efforts.
- Tap on proven customer behaviors: The PwC survey finds that 49 percent of customers click through from a social media page to an online store if provided with an exclusive deal. Attracting traffic to the ecommerce page through coupons, contests, and compelling content in the social media is the way forward for brands.
- Use custom apps to good effect: Create apps that drive social media users directly to products that appeal to them. For instance, a Facebook app that entices users to a quiz about their ideal size matches could redirect to specific purchase pages on the brand’s ecommerce portal. When confronted with a page that appeals to their style, customers are more likely to take the engagement forward, if not make an impulsive purchase.
- Share Ownership of the Products: Embedding the “Like” button, or prompting customers to share the purchase with their friends, in the hope that the friends too will buy, is not enough. Smart brands now adopt innovative strategies that allow site visitors to share ownership of the brand. The social page, for instance, could allow visitors to hand-select items from the shopping pages to create their own “look book” style collections, and share this among their social networking profiles
- Increase social media breadth: Make social media channels a part of the customer service and support matrix, by allowing customers the option to engage through the social media. An account to deal with customers, separate from the promotional account that deals with prospects, would improve repeat sales.
- Be Proactive: Apply statistical methods such as A/B testing or Multivariate testing in social media to ascertain the information or posts that attracts the best reaction. Try to use the voice of the customer as far as possible. Also, create listening posts to reach out to disgruntled customers with coupons or discounts. All these would help dissuade customers to drop out from the social engagement lifecycle.
- Integrate the “buy” button: Finally, go ahead with social selling, or integrating shopping carts with social media itself. Many social media apps facilitate such a move. Twitter has Twitter Commerce, or branded tweets with a “buy” button on the anvil, and most other social channels are at the cusp of launching their own versions of the same.
What has been your experience with social ecommerce? Is it worth the time and effort? Or should we just wait for this fad to go away?
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