Written by Guest Contributor
23rd July 2015 • 10 min read
This is a guest post by Chelsea Coronin of Secure Thoughts.
How Important is Social Media to commerce?
It’s impossible to deny the rise of online shopping over the years. The internet has become a huge platform for exchanging merchandise, and while many companies both large and small have adjusted fairly well to the need for more competitive online marketing, there are still challenges in the area of social media.
One big reason that the need for social media poses a challenge to businesses is the fact that the majority of effective research done about marketing through social media has turned up evidence that it is highly ineffective at creating sales. Conversions rates from social media sources are statistically less than 1% in almost every report published on the subject. Does this mean that it’s a failed concept? Despite the gloomy statistics, there are some huge considerations that are not seen in direct sale studies.
Recognise the Invisible Contribution
Research suggests that social media does not have a solid record of directly creating sales. The problem with focusing on this fact is that you may miss the indirect contribution it has on your customers or potential customers. Your company’s social presence online can be useful in these areas:
Word of Mouth Advertisement
Although it’s one of the most effective advertisement methods, word of mouth advertisement is difficult to measure. Social media is creating another place for people to talk about your brand or your products. If you are maintaining a consistent presence on people’s social platforms, you can create a buzz that is great for biz.
Gaining Customer Trust
Trust has always been an important factor when people are deciding whether or not to buy a product. A recent study by Marketing Land showed that 90% of people are influenced by positive customer reviews of a product. This indicates that people trust the experience of others, even those who they don’t know, more than they trust advertisements. You can gain trust through transparency and relevance in social media.
Influencing Purchasing Decisions
Subtle reminders about your products might be doing more than you think. Social networks account for a large amount of the time an average person spends online, meaning if you can find a way to put your brand out there effectively enough you might be able to occupy a larger piece of people’s minds when they are thinking about making a certain purchase. People that are familiar with your brand and your products already have a higher likelihood of buying from you.
Using Social Media Effectively
Ecommerce and social media have a tricky relationship. Despite the benefits you can see from promoting yourself online over social networks, you may also see negative results if you are not strategic about how you handle your online presence. Here’s a few actions you can implement to experience better outcomes from your social media marketing:
Planning Your Posting
Don’t just get online and type up a short message once a day about how great your newest product is. Stay a few steps ahead when it comes to what you will be posting. Plan ahead to follow ongoing trends online and to build hype around specific products that are soon to launch or have relevance to a certain point in time. Building your brand requires you to know what you want to say to people long before you actually say it. This will help you avoid making blind mistakes that may harm your brand image.
Crafting a Specific Online Presence
Don’t focus on building a strong social presence everywhere online unless this is part of your strategy. Instead, target certain networks that have a higher following of your target audience. The big four (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) can be a bit much to handle if you don’t have a large staff taking care of your social media presence. Smaller companies should think about focusing on just a few of the many networks online, while larger companies should consider which ones to use more heavily than the others.
Don’t just broadcast information for the world to see. You can keep people’s attention a lot better if you allow them to engage in a conversation with you. Some companies have created awesome marketing campaigns this way by having people post pictures of themselves using the products for contests or just because. Emu, a company which sells camping products, hosted a contest years back which asked people to post pictures of the most extreme places they have ever set up a camping hammock. The result was that many camping enthusiasts posted their pictures all over Facebook, inspiring others to take interest and even purchase a hammock for themselves.
Trends, hashtags, and viral sensations are a bit daunting if you aren’t used to keeping up, but they can mean the difference between attracting the younger generation, who use social media more often, and getting lost in the flood of advertisements online. Stay current with what’s happening and try to tailor your posting around relevant events.
Professionalism and Security
Recent news has shown the world just how devastating it can be for a company to be hacked. Your online presence can be severely compromised if someone from the outside gets on your social media accounts and makes any sort of posting. Keep yourself well secured with proper anti-spyware and anti-malware procedures.
One Facebook page learned the hard way just how devastating a hack could be when control of their page was seized by hackers. Ironically, the page that was compromised was Cult of Mac, which is a book about the wildly successful marketing and devoted customer base that the Apple product line has developed over the years.
Cult of Mac ran into serious trouble earlier this month when their Facebook page was attacked by hackers running spam posts, and they were locked out of their page. Within a day, the owners of the page had contacted Facebook and regained access to their page, but not without plenty of panic and jumping through hoops with the website’s security and tech support to get things right again.
The damage was done, and their followers were dumbfounded by the obviously spammy posts that were showing up in their news feeds. Though the problem was rectified very quickly, it’s a situation that is quick to reflect poorly on a business or organization – particularly one so heavily immersed in the tech field.
In addition to anti-malware and security software, whether you are in charge of a small or a large company, you should consider operating through a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPNs will encrypt your data and keep prying eyes away from what you’re doing online, as well as securing your sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords from the hands of those who would use them maliciously.
While software to protect your actual device from corruption definitely helps to strengthen your security and protect sensitive information, a VPN secures the connection and transfer of data itself, keeping your information secure en-route to the servers. Since most of the world does business on the go, VPNs are a pretty essential part of keeping your business secure, and your image professional.
The Real Outcomes
The truth is that social media and ecommerce have a tricky yet necessary relationship. Your ecommerce business will not reach its full potential if you are not recognizing the impact that social media can have and effectively taking advantage of it. Social media has never been a great tool for creating direct sales, but it is a highly effective method of communicating with your costumers and keeping people in touch with your brand.