One of the most important trends in ecommerce is to empower the consumer more and more. Naturally, empowering people will win their loyalty and social media is the perfect venue for consumers to connect with vendors and complete transactions.
Social networks play a major role in your online store, in terms of ROI, customers, leads, and sales, so that is why you have to be visible everywhere, if possible. Thanks to social media platforms, now you have the ability to connect with billions of people around the world, in an instant.
Plus, these social media tools can be used for free or for a minimum investment, especially if you are at the beginning and just started your business. Social media will help you:
- build trust in your products and services
- improve your image on the market
- enlarge the base of your fans and
- raise the number of customers
Ultimately, it will help you to sell more. Once you have established a great connection with your fans on social networks, you will see that not just your online visibility improved, but also your pockets.
Importance of Social Networks
But why it is important to use social media in all of its forms if you are an online retailer? First of all, that is because your audience has changed.
Over the past years, due to the global economic crisis and the access to information, people became more aware of what they want and actually need. They became more social, and we can see that they are far more likely to purchase something nowadays if they have some pre-awareness. And the pre-awareness often comes from the experience they have with a brand on social networks or from the friends they have on social networks. For example, a simple share of a product on my Facebook page may influence a friend from my list to try that product because he or she values my opinions and trusts me.
Furthermore, since we all are different, but at the same time share similarities, a company’s job is to try to attract us constantly. If someone from your target audience has an account on Vimeo, it doesn’t automatically mean that they also have one on YouTube. If he likes to tweet, it doesn’t mean he likes to pin. But he may enjoy your products or services as well. So be aware of that and start making a page on every social media network.
Don’t ignore a specific social network just because your friends or customers don’t spend any time on it. You still have to be active on it, because that social media platform may provide you something that another one can’t.
For example, although Pinterest launched in 2010, people adopt the network later, back in 2012, while B2C brands started to use it more for promoting starting with 2013. In order to sustain that, Pinterest exposed some of their success stories on their platform and one of those is Etsy, a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique handmade goods. They have 15 million items on sale and over 800,000 online shops and, in time, they invested more in their presence on Pinterest.
What did Etsy do?
Basically, they just added the Pin it button to each piece listed on their marketplace in order to make it smoother for the shoppers to pin items while browsing the site and understand that the item is for sale at a click distance.
One of the sellers on Etsy increased the average views per week and the sales per week with 22% and, respectively, 20% by using Pinterest. Plus, Etsy has 472,853 followers and counting, which translates into 472,853 possible shoppers.
Same story with Instagram. Launched in 2010, the social network became one of the fastest growing apps and, in April 2012, determined Facebook to buy it for $1 billion!
When it comes to Instagram, your customers want to see some behind the scene pics or some cool and interesting photos, but not necessarily images with your products. On Instagram you don’t have to act like you need to fulfill a catalogue, instead you have to share experiences; you have to inspire others, all through beautiful pictures and brilliant videos.
I saw that a huge impact and a big success on Instagram have clothing retailers. Big or small, well known or less known, clothing stores or big fashion designers are like a magnet for the users (especially female ones).
One example of a retailer that uses Instagram at its max is asos.com. What is interesting is that the company doesn’t only upload pictures with the clothes they are selling, but with celebrities, food, art etc.
They engage with their audience and it is no wonder they have 2,344,310 followers, more than Burberry (2,030,743 followers), at this point.
The point is – as an online retailer, you shouldn’t ignore social media. Social has become vital for your strategies and you need it in order to survive and differentiate over competitors. Social media doesn’t provide only behavioral information regarding your customers, but it also serves as a platform for transactions.
Also, don’t ignore the other well-known social media networks, like Facebook (because it can target individuals based on what they've said or liked), Google+, since it has some advantages you won’t find somewhere else, Twitter etc.
You must be ready to adapt and react immediately when things change in terms of consuming.
If you’re an online store, you should be aware of the following:
- social media can help you find the best channel to interact with your fans / clients -> if you don’t try every social network, you won’t know where is the biggest slice of your audience
- it can give you diverse feedback -> on Twitter, people tend to be more pragmatic, due to the small “space” called tweet that they have available in order to communicate and interact, but on Facebook they “unleash” themselves and engage in big debates
- it will reduce some of the communication costs -> if you are an emerging online retailer, rather spend your energy and money on promoting online, instead of expensive ads
- it will help your customer service department -> if a client or potential client has some questions about your product / service, he doesn’t have to email or telephone you and loose valuable time, instead he can write a message or a comment on a social media network and you can answer him instantly
Those being said don’t forget to be social!