Social Media? So What?

Great: you are on social media…so what? What are your customers getting from that relationship and how are you turning likes, fans, and followers into revenue?

We have witnessed a drastic evolution in how we purchase things. Think about it, the process of buying something was intimately social just 20 years ago; we would walk into a store and make contact with another human. In most cases we already knew the people at the store. Often the employee helping us was personally involved in creating the products or at least selecting and sourcing them from a manufacturer. By understanding both the customer’s needs and the product, the employee was able to make the shopping experience easy, personal and relevant.

Today, much of this interaction has disappeared as many of our purchasing experiences take place between a human and a computer. By default, E-commerce is not social. Click…add to cart…click…confirm purchase. Then the product is delivered to your door a few days later. You might know the UPS driver better than the retailer! While intentionally convenient, the lack of human interaction in the experience often causes complication.

How can brands put human connection back into the modern shopping experience? Further, how can we connect voices of merchants and shoppers, enabling shoppers, brands, and retailers to hear each other?

If you are thinking about social media, you’re right! The explosion of social channels and the volume of conversations happening online have put brands in the prime position to create meaningful connections from brand to retailer to shopper.

social-commerce-cart

Nearly 75% of all internet users are active on social channels today. The 25% that aren’t, probably live under rocks. For the rest of us, we share opinions, ideas, thoughts and pieces of our lives on social networks. So what does this mean? We are talking about brands and our experiences with brands on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In fact, the voice of the customer has never been stronger. The intersection of authentic customer reviews and emotive social posts (and media) is the future of truly social commerce online.

Social Media? These numbers increase every month, but let’s take a look at what’s happening on social media:

  • 5 billion pieces of content shared each day (facebook)
  • 5,700 tweets every second (twitter)
  • 60 million photos collected a day (instagram)
  • 187 million monthly unique visitors (linkedin)

So What? It is time to capture those conversations and create truly connected commerce. Let’s focus on three ways to start driving social media engagement (relationships).

1 – Location, Location, Location

First, you must determine your preferred social sites. You must figure out which social networks are most complimentary to your goals, acknowledging that each social platform has different sets of strengths and weaknesses.

  • This infographic breaks down each channel: Social Media Comparison, April 2014 (click here)

It is very important to listen to current conversations about your brand so you can find the right sources and media mix based on hashtags, keywords, or other search criteria that match your goals. Identifying your preferred content sources is the start to any successful social relationship program.

2 – Set the boundaries

After the preferred channels have been established, you must develop moderation guidelines complete with filtering, human moderation, and tagging. The moderation structure should be broken down into these three categories:

  • Automated Filters: develop a filtering system to prevent undesirable content automatically. Whether its photos to fill a gallery, or specific keywords and hashtags from certain locations, your filters should sift through the content streams to find the content most relevant for your audience.
  • Human Moderation: beyond the automated filters, a team of experts should review every piece of content based on your moderation guidelines. It is important to get the right team in place, because there is a lot at stake. Just because someone has 1,000 Facebook friends and 5,000 Twitter followers, doesn’t mean they are a social media expert!
  • Product Matching: a tagging system should be in place to match social posts to the individual product of category referenced. This is critical, because it enables you to surface product specific content in the most appropriate places throughout your E-commerce experience and maximize the value of social media. This valuable insight can also be leveraged by product development and customer service teams.

3 – Bring it home

What happens on social media shouldn’t stay on social media. Showing off curated photos, videos, and social posts of people enjoying your product on your website is a powerful way to increase engagement and conversation. Also, by integrating social content into product pages you will help consumers speed up the research process of the buying journey.

Conclusion: Proving the ROI of social media

When customers are engaged, they are more satisfied and are more likely to purchase and become an advocate for your brand. As brands, we must strive to make the E-commerce experience as social as it would be shopping in a store. The intersection of reviews and social expressions is a game-changer for E-commerce. When done right, social media relationships will enable you to:

  • Increase engagement with compelling social experiences.
    • This is a post about “Improving CX through Social” (article)
  • Capture data on your customers and leverage that knowledge to create advertising efficiencies in addition to serving them better.
  • Build trust by empowering brand advocates to have their voices heard.
    • Here is another post about “Turning Customers into Fans” (article)
  • Drive conversion by providing a more comprehensive view of your brand and products and giving customers the confidence to purchase.

Technology can help you extract value from your social relationships. The right social platform will deliver a seamless experience across listening, engagement, content creation, community management, paid media and the all-important analysis of your social media efforts.

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