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.
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.
#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?”
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#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.
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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.
#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.
#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.
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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