Is Social Media Dragging E-commerce Into The Future?

5 Social Media Tips To Enhance Sales [Examples]

Social media continues to change our shopping experiences, both online and offline, supporting purchasing at every step of the process. Some have dubbed this social commerce. Yet when it comes to closing the deal, most consumers and retailers tend to use e-commerce, m-commerce or phone.

Let’s start by looking at seven examples of how social media is adding content, engagement and interaction with the product and/or company presentation, either on the retailer’s site or on a social media site. 

Based on these examples, here are five salient attributes as to how social media is dragging e-commerce into the future.

  1. Increases consumers’ shopping choices. Social media has enabled small businesses to cost effectively create and distribute a wide variety of content to engage prospective buyers. It takes the form of blogs, photographs, videos, social networks and social commerce. It’s also given rise to newer forms of social commerce like Fab.com and Svpply.com. This content enables prospects to get a feel for the product and seller from the comfort of their computer, tablet or smartphone. Social media helps consumers find new prospects of interest by broadening their view of the world through social sharing because there’s too much information for people to sift through for each purchase decision.
  2. Gives rise to a new class of tastemakers. Social media has empowered a new category of self-appointed tastemakers who view themselves as professionals, each with their own, targeted following. These experts are redistributing content from celebrities like Martha Stewart. Platforms like Pinterest empower micro-level taste making because others wanting to share their insights and excitement bring in friends.
  3. Extends the room for your story. With its large, multi-media platforms, social media provides more space and functionality to share and enhance your brand and/or product story where appropriate. By selling on a smaller scale with enhanced stories, each product is augmented with value because when you can tell the story about something, you feel a stronger attachment to it. (Of course, you’re not going to want to have a story about every product because they’re not all relevant.)
  4. Purchases via ecommerce,  m-commerce or phone.  Shoppers can complete transactions on some social media such as Facebook (btw, Mashable recently reported that marketers are leaving f-commerce.) At a minimum, it’s helpful to provide alternatives to ensure customers feel secure about purchasing via website, mobile or phone.  To this, ensure you’ve got tailored landing pages, optimized purchase process with the minimum steps possible, and are able to track results.
  5. Allows post purchase engagement. Regardless of whether marketers ask customers or not, there’s a lot of post-sale interaction that goes beyond returns and additional purchases, such as ratings and reviews. As a merchant, use the post purchase process to encourage customers to return to your website or social media. If your consumers don’t take these actions, encourage them with a follow up email to nudge them into sharing their feedback or encourage others to share their views. In part, this activity gives your customers their fifteen seconds of frame and allows them to be excited about your product’s story. Any product should be able to be sold by other consumers (which thanks to Amazon we’re used to.) We have many mechanisms built into our product offerings such as ratings and reviews and photographs.

What’s a merchant to do? Ensure you can support the social media conversation around your offering at every step of the process. To this end, it’s useful to provide search optimized content and have appropriate social sharing buttons. Check that your landing pages and purchase process are as streamlined as they can be while allowing you to track the transaction.

Is there any thing else that you’d add to this list? Do you think ecommerce is being dragged into the future? If so, why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Note: This column was inspired by the social media and commerce panel at Hearst during Social Media Week New York City.

Here are some related articles that may be of interest regarding social media and  e-commerce.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29623373@N04/4312725796/

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  • Bethany Brightmore

    Social media is a great tool for many businesses (if it’s a relevant
    and/or a suitable platform for them). More and more consumers are relying on e-commerce or m-commerce because of
    their busy lives; therefore purchasing products through a tap of an iPhone or
    iPad is a no brainer!  

    In the current digital age it’s a completely different kettle of fish
    and the game is constantly changing and becoming more competitive, primarily
    because of consumer/social trends and never ending technological and digital
    developments.

    Here’s a post with some insights for retailers who are shooting in the
    dark in the social media space…or could just do with a bit of guidance with
    where to start:

    http://bit.ly/wt6xE3