The beast of Social Commerce: Can it be tamed?

I’ve been working lately with clients who have websites with shopping carts. Fantastic websites that allow you to shop in your bathrobe–my kind of shopping. The question I’m often asked to solve: “How do I marry social media with my e-commerce site?”

Social commerce has evolved into so much more than simply using a few tools or plugins to sell your products and services. Thanks to commercial shopping sites and a host of technical “bling” now available to you, this whole idea of social commerce has become a bit of a new animal. But it can be tamed.

Here’s an interesting article I want to share from author Helen Fang, a social media expert at an e-commerce software company who helps companies sell on Facebook, eBay, Amazon, Google and more. Fang shares what I think is a simple but comprehensive approach to how you can sell products online and still get home to enjoy your evening:

What started as a mere trend several years ago has now evolved into its own culture. Social commerce is gaining popularity by leaps and bounds in the virtual world and shows no signs of slowing down. Selling products online was once reserved for major retailers with massive inventories and the selling power to reach the masses. Now, thanks to sites like eBay, web stores, and applications for social media platforms such as Facebook, anyone can market and sell their products online.

Having a successful social commerce campaign hinges on a number of factors. It’s not something you should venture into blindly without having done at least some minimal research. Although once you get your ecommerce campaign up and running, it can run on autopilot to some extent. However, there are certain areas in which you always have to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to selling your products online.

Let’s take a look at the four most important ingredients in a successful social commerce campaign:

A Multifaceted Approach

Simply using one or two of the array of free social media tools available today won’t get you very far in your social commerce campaign. The key to making these tools work for your brand is not just using them, but using them in tandem with other avenues of marketing to gain maximum exposure. Add Facebook and Twitter widgets to your business website and blog. Add links to your website and blog to your Facebook Fan Page and Storefront and your Twitter account. Tweet about sales, promotions, new products and services. Blog about these events as well and announce the blog updates on your Fan Page. Let everything you do online reciprocate what you’ve already done, allowing the campaign to come full circle.

Get Personal

Customers want to feel like their opinions matter and achieving that strengthens the bond between the buyer and the seller. Try to involve your customers in your business as much as you can. Constantly ask for feedback about their experiences and take their suggestions. Ask them to vote on which products should be introduced next and which services they would like you to offer in the future. Asking for their opinion lets your customers know that you are listening to them, which works to establish brand loyalty. On the flipside of that, don’t forget to interact with your fans on a personal level. Respond to their comments and posts. Let them know you’re reading and listening.

Reward That Loyalty

Reward your loyal social media followers with exclusive discounts and specials that are not available to other customers. Not only does this show your appreciation for your loyal followers, it also provides the incentive for them to recommend your brand to others.

Don’t Oversell

Instead of always posting about products you have for sale, ask questions or create polls to get your customers involved. Share relevant industry news or even some candid insights into your personal life. If your company is involved in other events or causes, let your fans know it. Random trivia, current events and human interest stories are always good conversation starters. Yes, the point of social commerce is selling your products and services, but nobody likes high pressure tactics or feeling like they’re being “sold” to all the time.

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2 Responses to The beast of Social Commerce: Can it be tamed?

  1. Extreme John July 16, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Customer engagement is such a very important aspect in every business. Customers would always love to be catered well and engaging with them through the social networks such as Facebook and Tweeter is an effective way to get in touch with them and make them feel that they belong and are involved with the business. This post offers such a perfect and excellent approach in social commerce. 

    • Amy Spreeman July 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

      Thanks John, I agree that everything a business leader does to connect with customers must go beyond the tools to focus on and respond to them. Customers want to know they are being listened to, and that their contributions through social media are valued.

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