By Matt Blum
We have all seen the explosion of corporations creating online communities, but let us take a look at how easy it can be to connect with your e-commerce customers and how important social media is to your customers.
First, we have to ask the question, How do you take the seemingly limitless conversations and turn them into actionable insights? Also, how can you understand what is being said and the context of those conversations?
Social media in any context offers incredibly good (and free) feedback on a variety of goods and services. Online Retailers need to use this information to their advantage. Using it to your advantage means using both the good and bad comments. Here are some practical tips we can take a look at. Most importantly, keep the conversation going and make sure your content is relevant and current. Do remember that the end goal is product sales and customer connections. Also, rekindle the passion for your brand consistently using these methods. For example, if you a leading e-commerce website and you are involved in a social forum, why not hold weekly or bi-weekly chat sessions about the experiences with ordering product? You will get invaluable responses from doing something like this.
It is also very important to constantly think about the audience you are trying to go after, consider your age demographics, race, and gender as well. Who are the most likely people to purchase your products and who do you want to expand to? These are key points to remember when considering your marketplace.
It is really no surprise that online e-commerce businesses were one of the first groups to use social media to make their brand more social. They enabled customers to find out what their peers were thinking and provided valuable insight that could be viewed in “real time”.
Building a truly interactive community within an e-commerce platform is important as it creates a more efficient retail environment where customer opinions, relevant content and product information are freely distributed. It is only then that “social commerce” can happen.
To accomplish this, retailers must be able to integrate social media elements, such as social networking features and user generated platforms directly into their commerce environments.
As a result of this, online retailers can create and own a unique social experience that would encompass the entire customer lifecycle. Customers can than enjoy a more integrated shopping experience and retailers will see an increase in unique visitors to their online store that are “predisposed” to their marketing messages. This will streamline marketing efforts and lead to increased profits and decreased costs.
Social media allows to empower customers by enabling them to establish user profiles that pull in data and relationships to online stores. At this point customers can interact and provide you (the online retailer) invaluable customer feedback, and bring in potential new customers.
By building and maintaining vibrant communities that address the passion of the retailer’s core audience, and then spreading that passion to the larger social web, retailers will attract loyal and engaged customers, and will achieve better business results.
Social media is absolutely crucial to an online retailers success today. Social media allows you to engage a customer, get new business, and most importantly elicit invaluable customer feedback that will turn into increased sales.
Matt Blum is an online marketing expert with over 12 years experience in higher education and business. Look for his expertise at http://marketmpb.blogspot.com.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+