social media how toMarketing your online business through social media websites can be a great way to encourage engagement with your brand in a low-pressure setting.

However, getting started with this new type of media can be intimidating for some business owners.

Take a look at the following five examples of ecommerce websites that are succeeding with social media for ideas on how to use social media effectively.

#1: Use Facebook Apps Strategically to Guide Users

As social media expert Amy Porterfield mentioned in her recent “How to Use Facebook Apps to Improve Fan Engagement,” article on Social Media Examiner:

Since page admins can no longer designate a default landing tab (also referred to as the “default welcome tab”), businesses need to get more creative and use custom apps to direct Facebook page visitors to take action.

One example of an ecommerce website that’s taking this principle to the next level is ShoeDazzle, the discount footwear retailer, with its custom Style Profile app.

Once Facebook visitors grant access to the app, they’re able to complete the quiz to find their ideal style matches and are then redirected to specific purchase pages on the ShoeDazzle website, encouraging purchase decisions and eliminating the “tire kicking” that can occur with social media visitors.

This Facebook app works well because it helps drive Facebook visitors directly to the products that will appeal to them most back on ShoeDazzle’s own website.

Tip: Social media sites often have lower barriers to engagement (that is, users are less concerned about being “sold to” than on traditional websites). Facebook apps with interactive features to help convert viewers to buyers can make a big difference in social media ROI.

shoe dazzle

ShoeDazzle's Style Profile app gets visitors interested in specific styles before they even land on the site's home page.

#2: Use Playlists on YouTube

Specialty-goods retailer Vat19 has a wide-reaching social media presence, but where it really shines is on YouTube. Collectively, the company’s video channel has amassed more than 115 million views—no doubt resulting in significant traffic back to its ecommerce website.

Besides the high quality of the company’s video production and the regularity with which it publishes new content, one of the keys to Vat19’s success on YouTube can be attributed to its use of the often-overlooked Playlists feature.

YouTube playlists are a useful tactic to keep visitors on your own YouTube channel longer. Because YouTube playlists allow channel owners to select which videos will play sequentially (interrupting the YouTube Autoplay feature which may automatically launch videos from other brands’ channels), the company’s use of this tool enables it to present viewers with additional products they may be interested in and increase sales.

Tip: Create YouTube playlists within your business channel to control viewer movement through the site. This decreases the viewer loss that can occur when users navigate away to YouTube’s alternative recommended videos.

Here’s how to create a video playlist within YouTube: “How do I make a playlist?”

vat19 youtube playlist

Vat19's YouTube playlists allow it to feature additional items to interested customers automatically.

#3: Use the Right Conversational Style on Twitter

Reaching out to consumers via Twitter is a great fit for “geek chic” ecommerce retailer, ThinkGeek. Not only is its target audience extremely active on Twitter, ThinkGeek’s conversational style and immediate response times have earned the small-but-growing company more than 500,000 followers.

It’s clear ThinkGeek knows how to cultivate the right communication on Twitter for maximum social engagement. By developing its Twitter community, ThinkGeek increases brand loyalty, as well as the possibility that tweets regarding its products will be shared socially among followers and non-followers. Both of these benefits have the potential to increase sales substantially.

Tip: Use your audience’s language when engaging via social media. Social networking site users are extremely sensitive to “phony” interactions, so be sure the person handling your company’s social media profiles is able to use the appropriate tone and language when communicating with followers.

think geek

ThinkGeek's use of colloquial phrases like "I will poke the t-shirt monkey" allows them to connect more deeply with audience members.

#4: Let Your Audience Share Ownership of Your Products

Plenty of ecommerce websites are integrating social sharing tools into their product listing pages, which is a great way to encourage interactions on these sites. But while this is a great first step (and too often is the only step that retailers take), what makes clothing retailer Free People stand out is the robust communities they’ve built on multiple social networking sites.

Free People allows customers to create their own clothing collections to share on popular social networking websites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

Starting from the company’s main shopping page, consumers can hand-select items to form their own “look book” style collections, which can then be explored and voted on by other users. Customers can start from standard company collections or create their own unique sets to share on the Free People website and social networking profiles.

This helps to create a sense of ownership among visitors and is a great way to increase brand loyalty and social promotion.

Tip: To capture this effect for your own website, look for ways to go above and beyond simple social sharing tools by offering customers a way to “claim” your items as their own.

user collections

User collections can be named and liked by other site visitors, creating social opportunities within the company's website.

#5: Engage Your Audience with Social Media Integration

What’s most interesting about the Cree LED lighting company’s level of social media engagement is that home repair—and lighting design in particular—isn’t traditionally thought of as a socially oriented industry.

While it’s expected that niches like shoe and clothing shops translate easily to social networking applications (as these activities in real life are generally social experiences), getting customers to share their lighting purchases online isn’t quite as natural.

Cree LED lighting demonstrates how to bridge this gap in stellar fashion. They have completely integrated social media into their marketing strategy with a clear desire to encourage engagement on social media.

Cree’s social media profile is diverse and highly engaged, ranging from the traditional Facebook and Twitter presence to user “Tweetups” and social competitions that encourage users to submit their own lighting photos for the chance to win free products.

Tip: Even if your industry isn’t heavily represented on social networking websites, there are still plenty of opportunities for engagement! You may need to spread your net far and explore different types of social media in order to see what sticks. But when you commit to interact with customers in a variety of situations, you’ll increase your odds of finding your own industry’s sweet spot.


Integrate social media into your marketing strategy to encourage engagement with your community.

These are just a few ways online businesses are using social media.

What do you think?  What other examples do you know of? How are other ecommerce companies using social media? Share your comments in the box below!

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  • Great post, though the ShoeDazzle app isn’t available anymore …

  • Thinkitmedia

    This is great information! thank you!

  • Every time I take a moment to read these articles I am glad that I did.

    There were some really great ideas in this article. The main takeaway for me was, make your products more interactive through social media tools. The idea is simple – help your customers that love your products/services promote your products to their networks Social media is a good channel to use for this activity. The only thing that is missing for most companies is the tool.Thank you.JT

  • Thanks – glad you found the article helpful.  You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the importance of helping the customers that already love you to spread your products through their networks.  Social media websites can really amplify this effect if you invest in making the right tools and services available.

  • Thanks for reading!

  • Ahhh, the perils of writing articles in advance in the changing world of social media…  Looks like the app is down, but the Style Profile quiz is still active if you follow the “Back to Home” link from the landing page.  Still a pretty interesting tool, and a good way to engage with an audience.

  • Great points AJ and for me twitter has been working well with getting the more targeting traffic. Thanks for sharing.

  • Awesome Research AJ, I’m impressed… but the Shoe Dazzle app was just a short time thing.

    It happens though, my friend recently did a run down of photo filter apps, and by the timewe posted it one of the apps got picked up by Google and another closed its doors. Happens from time to time.

  • Yep – As mentioned below, it’s tough to write advance articles in the constantly changing world of social media… 🙂  The previous Shoe Dazzle app was an interesting case study, but if you navigate through the “Back to Home” link they’ve got up now, there’s still a quiz style engagement tool that’s worth a look.  Thanks for reading!

  • Thanks for sharing – glad to hear that Twitter has been helping you hone in on targeted traffic.

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  • This is a very informative post. Thank you for sharing AJ. 

  • With search engines changing its algorithm ever few months and keeping everyone guessing, social media is the best way to go. Its power to the people, to engage, to connect, to push it further. The power of social media is phenomenal and here to stay. 

  • AJ,

    Personally, I have been slow in integrating Social Media elements to my website but this post has tempted me to give it a huge try.

    I will try implementing s few to see how it goes.

  • I’m glad you found the article motivating!  Thanks for reading, and best of luck getting your social media tools off the ground.

  • Very well said, Shalu.  Social media can be incredibly empowering in terms of being able to reach out to your customers directly, which makes it a great option for businesses of all sizes.

  • Thanks for reading!

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  • I will be looking forward to this blog for my future reference. Thanks for posting.

  • Amy Nedoss

    Great post with relevant and attainable suggestions.   Nice job and I’ll look forward to helping you spread the word.

  • Great article. I thought number 4, sharing ownership of products, was a particularly creative use of social media.

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  • Azevedo Nt

    about to have an exam on e-commerce and how it engages social media,,, great article will use every example!!! heheheh

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  • Really a great way of marketing an online business through social media platform websites.Great information you shared.