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How Social Media is Integrating with Ecommerce and Where It’s Heading

April 16, 2012 · 16 comments

in Internet Marketing, Social Media

social media ecommerceWe love to shop. It doesn’t really matter who we are – male or female – we do love to browse around and get the thing that makes us feel better. Feeling cool and happy we love to brag about it. That’s why Facebook and other social networks are so popular – they give us an opportunity to showcase who we are, what we do and how incredible our life is. Or what stuff we have or bought. And this is a story of how social media met ecommerce and where their happily ever after is heading.

Does Social Commerce even exist?

We sure shopped online before social networking became an online buzz. We used to share news while changing our sweat pants in YMCA locker rooms or standing in line in front of a vending machine. I used to brush my teeth before hitting the TV for a scoop of an early morning news. Now I don’t even bother to flip the channel or even brush my teeth for that matter.

As soon as my iPhone finishes its alarm song I’m on a Facebook checking through the news feed. While swallowing the last spoon of my oatmeal I already know that Jessica is pregnant with twins and got her baby shower list in Target and Aiden just got a new song off of the Spotify, that I also liked and wanted to download before jumping to the car on my way to work.

I used to call my mom before making a decision on what should I get as a birthday present for my sister. Now my sister makes a wish list on Facebook and I buy what she wants (and let me tell you what a relief it is!). So what does it mean?

Social Media is advancing ecommerce

It’s not about search anymore – it’s all about discovery. A simple sales formula of Traffic x Conversion x Average Order Value = Sales is dramatically affected by online social networking which can improve every of the above metrics.

Hundreds of apps and plug-ins already increases the sale allowing people to socially engage while shopping online which will further insure the success of ecommerce. I would even say that one day Facebook will be a solid ecommerce platform with thousands of shopping integrations that’ll go far and beyond the present F-commerce.

What to do if you own an online business

Get ready. Social ecommerce means being influenced while shopping online which turn the marketing funnel into a viral loop. Explore the opportunities and get active. Start building your audience through Facebook business page and Twitter profile. Find ways to engage your audience and then add apps.

Integrate plug-ins: For instance businesses like Fab.com are reporting solid referral trafic increase and membership grow since launching with Facebook Open Graph just a couple of month ago. Use Power Review and other plug-ins as you advance through social media marketing or even develop Facebook shopping platform and offer your friends and followers coupons, sales, prizes, sweepstakes, spree or whatever is working for your business.

Think of a cost and return on investment rate online versus offline. Considering how many people you can potentially reach with a click of a button and the fact that people are online 24/7 the possibilities are endless.

Integrate connections throughout the shopping experience: roughly 60% of online shoppers read product-related comments from their friends via news feeds before making purchase decision while 55% reached the ecommerce site through the link posted on their friends status update. According to statistics 63% of the social media referral shoppers who’ve come to the retailer’s shop via link have made a purchase.

Start using social media features that promote social discovery: for instance an app called Foursquare allows users to share their location and help their friends to discover new places while making useful comments about products and services. While using this app I’ve discovered that my sister loves caviar and hates meringues. Good to know since I’ve consistently bought them for our happy sisters hour for nearly 12 years thinking that we both absolutely adore meringues!

Social commerce is evolving so make sure you’ve got all the tools ready to get yourself ahead of a game and benefit from it just as much as possible!

Image Credit: David Castillo Dominici

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As a kid Yuliya wanted to be a mystery writer. Now she writes about online marketing that's just as fascinating and mysterious as Agatha Christie's work.

Yuliya has written 2 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

Twitter: @AstoundCommerce | Facebook | Blog → Marketing for B2B http://marketing4b2b.wordpress.com/

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Artem April 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Yeah, social commerce is not knocking on the door, it’s inside already! It’s exciting to see how fast it develops in comparison to other internet commerce eras)

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Artem, thank you for your comment. It is evolving faster than anyone could predict and that’s why it’s very important to be on the edge with new integrations of social media in ecommerce.
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Starbucks to the mobile and beyond!My Profile

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Cheryl Lucia April 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm

“Social commerce is evolving so make sure you’ve got all the tools ready to get yourself ahead of the game and benefit from it just as much as possible!” I agree – and one of the tools you absolutely must have is a strategy for addressing customer concerns/issues and questions voiced at a retailer’s social network page. More and more, customers are taking to social platforms to make their voices heard and ask questions of retailers. These brands, however, are not ready for this type of two-way engagement from customers. Retailers who have set up accounts on various platforms have primarily used them as one-way communication tools, solely sending out marketing messages. This is problematic as users’ concerns are not addressed which results in customer dissatisfaction and then brand reputation is negatively impacted. E-retailers ultimately need to re-assess the way they utilize the platforms and develop a strategy to address this issue or be prepared to lose customers.
Cheryl Lucia recently posted..Cloud Hosting-The Tide of the FutureMy Profile

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 18, 2012 at 10:27 am

Cheryl, what a great point you’ve made in here! It is absolutely crucial to listen and respond to your customer’s concerns because social networking is not only about posting your marketing material – it’s most and foremost a communication device that has to be developed and used primarily as such. I think if a company is using its online channels wisely it can only benefit from the two-way direct dialog as it gets the opinion of a customer right through with no interference. And that’s, I would say, is absolutely priceless!
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Starbucks to the mobile and beyond!My Profile

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Pieter Britz from Ab Cuts April 18, 2012 at 2:12 am

Cheryl
I’m in the beginning of my walk with social e commerce, and i find it very hard especially if you are not a social butterfly.
But like you said it us the way forward and your advice give me hope.
Thanks for Blog.
Pieter Britz from Ab Cuts recently posted..Fast Ab Cuts – The Proven Way.My Profile

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

Pieter, if I may I would also add that even if someone is no a social butterfly (and the majority of us are not) social media is a beautiful tool because it gives us an opportunity to get creative without the actual performance. It enables us to be sort of like a movie director – to guide our actors and make them do what we want to create. Have a plan, be sincere and the Oscar is (hopefully) ours!
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Starbucks to the mobile and beyond!My Profile

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branded items April 18, 2012 at 6:34 am

the evolution of social media and ecommerce creates a great tandem. Since if you have an online business it’s quite necessary to promote your stuffs online. And participating or being active in social media and networking sites now a days is the best way to advertise or promote without a cost.

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

That’s exactly right!
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Starbucks to the mobile and beyond!My Profile

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Jacob April 18, 2012 at 6:47 am

Social commerce is changing the way decisions are made. A friend refers a friend through a social app. The possibilities are endless and this trend will keep increasing.
Jacob recently posted..Plexus Slim Third Party Review – What You Should KnowMy Profile

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 18, 2012 at 10:38 am

Jacob, thank you for your comment. People are social creatures. It’s just so much more fun to shop with friends than along. We use to make purchases online feeling a little secluded and having very little fun (at least that’s what I felt). Now the fun is back.
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Starbucks to the mobile and beyond!My Profile

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Nile April 18, 2012 at 7:38 am

The potential for social commerce has always existed. It was in forums prior…people would talk about products or services. We can now share those products, blog about them and much more.
Nile recently posted..Blondish.net Podcast: Paid To Blog- Is It For You?My Profile

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 18, 2012 at 10:39 am

Nile, you are exactly right. And the possibilities are truly endless. Thank you!
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Starbucks to the mobile and beyond!My Profile

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Mike Sherratt April 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Hey Yuliya,

We have all seen the explosion of corporations creating online communities, but let us take a look at how easy it can be to connect with your e-commerce customers and how important social media is to your customers.

First, we have to ask the question, How do you take the seemingly limitless conversations and turn them into actionable insights? Also, how can you understand what is being said and the context of those conversations?

Social media in any context offers incredibly good (and free) feedback on a variety of goods and services. Online Retailers need to use this information to their advantage. Using it to your advantage means using both the good and bad comments. Here are some practical tips we can take a look at. Most importantly, keep the conversation going and make sure your content is relevant and current. Do remember that the end goal is product sales and customer connections. Also, rekindle the passion for your brand consistently using these methods. For example, if you a leading e-commerce website and you are involved in a social forum, why not hold weekly or bi-weekly chat sessions about the experiences with ordering product? You will get invaluable responses from doing something like this.

It is also very important to constantly think about the audience you are trying to go after, consider your age demographics, race, and gender as well. Who are the most likely people to purchase your products and who do you want to expand to? These are key points to remember when considering your marketplace.

It is really no surprise that online e-commerce businesses were one of the first groups to use social media to make their brand more social. They enabled customers to find out what their peers were thinking and provided valuable insight that could be viewed in “real time”.

Building a truly interactive community within an e-commerce platform is important as it creates a more efficient retail environment where customer opinions, relevant content and product information are freely distributed. It is only then that “social commerce” can happen.

To accomplish this, retailers must be able to integrate social media elements, such as social networking features and user generated platforms directly into their commerce environments.

As a result of this, online retailers can create and own a unique social experience that would encompass the entire customer lifecycle. Customers can than enjoy a more integrated shopping experience and retailers will see an increase in unique visitors to their online store that are “predisposed” to their marketing messages. This will streamline marketing efforts and lead to increased profits and decreased costs.

Social media allows to empower customers by enabling them to establish user profiles that pull in data and relationships to online stores. At this point customers can interact and provide you (the online retailer) invaluable customer feedback, and bring in potential new customers.

By building and maintaining vibrant communities that address the passion of the retailer’s core audience, and then spreading that passion to the larger social web, retailers will attract loyal and engaged customers, and will achieve better business results.

Social media is absolutely crucial to an online retailers success today. Social media allows you to engage a customer, get new business, and most importantly elicit invaluable customer feedback that will turn into increased sales.

Mike
Mike Sherratt recently posted..9 Best Social Media Bookmarking Plug-ins For Word PressMy Profile

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Mike, first of all thank you very much for your outstanding comment. It’s like a Part II to my article that could be called something like “The importance of connecting your e-business to your customers via social media channels”. The points that you so expertly outlined are in fact ready to use strategies that any ecommerce enterprise should implement along with their other marketing efforts. It’s also very important to remember that social media is not a magic wand that turns online business into a successful social commerce enterprise as we gracefully swing it around. It is a consistent work based on the meticulously developed business plan that will as you beautifully stated “elicit invaluable customer feedback that will turn into increased sales.” Thank you again.
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Starbucks to the mobile and beyond!My Profile

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Cheryl Lucia April 23, 2012 at 7:07 am

Wow! What a great dialogue! Yuliya, Mike, and Pieter we’ve been talking about integrating social media into eCommerce so, I thought perhaps we could all benefit from an example of great SMO (Social Media Optimization). I recently had the opportunity to visit the DC shoes site (dcshoes.com). I needed to buy a pair of shoes for a teen male. While shopping, I took a few moments to look around the site. They have social media down to an art. This site is social media optimization shot full of adrenaline and hyped up on Monster drinks. One of the rules of SMO is to add social media features to the website content itself, including RSS feeds, social news and third-party community functionalities like images and videos. If you look at their homepage you’ll see Shop (In RED), Skate, Snow, Surf, Mote, BMX, Auto and Women across the top of the page. This site is designed to sell clothes, shoes and accessories (Hence the big red shop on the left), but the links after the red “shop” are all about social media, specifically the worlds of skating, snowboarding, surfing, BMX, etc. They have current news, videos, pictures and, of course, products under each heading. Skaters, surfers, racing fans and such go there regularly to read the news feeds and watch their sporting in the latest videos. While there, they notice that Ken Block is wearing black leather shoes with a Monster emblem on the side and – guess what? They just happen to have those shoes on sale this week. Throughout the site, customers are encouraged to participate and comment. DC Shoes is global, it’s immense – and my business isn’t. I certainly don’t have their budget. But we can all take home a lesson, with “home” being the optimum word. We need interactive content, but we don’t have to include videos, pictures and news feeds of “huge” events. We all operate within a community and I’m sure there are events worthy of noting. People like seeing videos, pictures and news of their hometowns. If you sell organic products, get videos of the Harvest Festival, the May Fest, the bluegrass trio that plays every weekend at the Farmer’s Market. Write in your blog about the community college’s agricultural program or new Go Green program or how the high school celebrated Earth Day. There are dozens and dozens of ways to incorporate social media on a small scale. Another rule of SMO regards “listening”. Listening is an ongoing component of social media marketing and optimization. A social media monitoring program (listening) should be implemented tapping into the conversations, influencers and real-time marketing opportunities that abound in our local, state and national environment. Again, develop a site with content that encourages people/customers to talk to you – and talk to them.

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Yuliya Karnaukh April 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

An awesome case study, Cheryl! Analyzing someone else’ success is a road to achieving your own highs. My personal idol is Starbucks – I love how quickly they respond to changes in ecommerce and implement some of the newest technologies on the fly. Their social marketing is an example of how selling good feelings and positive emotions are much more profitable than selling the actual goods. And so like you, Cheryl, said I might not have their financial resources, but I can be just as creative in developing engaging content and giving back to community. Following good old Carnegie “There is only one way… to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it”. That’s exactly what social media enables marketers to do – to show customers a need to make a purchase. It creates the emotion and desire, and the more visual and appealing it is – the better. That’s why Pinterest is such a huge success, that’s why Power Review is so splendidly working. We want to see stuff, we want to hear about it and we want to talk about it. Give us just that and we’ll want to buy from you. Thank you for your valuable insight – I really appreciate it.
Yuliya Karnaukh recently posted..Expansion to Eastern Europe – do they buy anything online?My Profile

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