This week’s question comes from a B2C selling products online:
I sell items to consumers on my website and would like to leverage social media. I have been told to try and get involved with Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t see the connection between that and actually selling my products. Are there social media platforms where I can list items for sale? Do these sites actually get any traffic?
This is an understandable question for those new to social media. I think online social shopping is a trend we will see continue to grow. There are already a large number of sites out there devoted to it and if your products are favorably featured on one or two of them, sales are likely to increase. Facebook offers a marketplace where you can list items for sale and other Facebook members can comment and share your items with their friends. Twitter doesn’t currently offer such a service, but I don’t think you should discount the power of Twitter to help you sell your products. It may be necessary for you to have a slight change in your perspective and goals for your social media efforts. The goal may not be direct sales, but instead creating a positive brand experience while building a loyal customer base. These metrics are much harder to measure, but more valuable when considering long term profitability. If you provide an exceptional product and experience for your customers AND make it easy for them to share this information online, you’ll be on your way to harnessing the power of social media and social shopping.
Social media can be leveraged to showcase your products to online communities and to build your brand while interacting with your customers. On some social shopping websites, like ThisNext, you can create a retailer profile which can be used to promote your products to the community. Users can then make comments and recommendations while you build relationships by rewarding loyal fans with product updates, insider tips or special offers. As Jill mentioned, Facebook allows you to list items for sale in a marketplace, but Twitter is more about raising brand awareness and communicating with your customers. Though adding the Sign in with Twitter API to your website allows shoppers to automatically tweet about your products directly to their Twitter profiles while they are shopping or sharing real-time updates with followers. Your business is new to the social media world so generating interest and building trust can take time, but stick with it and you’ll see an increase in sales in no time.
I see online social shopping as a natural trend that follows offline shopping culture–both are social, engaging and fun. Rather than reading a stranger’s review or opinion on products, shoppers love to hear from their family and friends. Online shopping can be boring and overwhelming; however, when friendly interactions are involved, the whole experience of searching, choosing, and deciding becomes more fun, engaging and customers are likely to spend more money. Shoppers will make bigger purchases and spend more time on your website if they are having fun socializing with their shopping friends. Many e-commerce websites are exploring social shopping by developing tools that let shoppers share their wish lists, purchases and opinions with friends via sites like Facebook. Check out the Facebook Connect API available for developers. If your budget allows for building your own social shopping experience, it could be a worthwhile investment.
Category: Ask TMM