An integrated social media marketing strategy does a few key things for any business which uses it effectively.
- Increases Brand Visibility
- Improves Customer Loyalty
- Helps you gain insights on the markets you serve
There are a number of directions from which to approach the idea of social media marketing. A number of different retailers have shown through example the effectiveness of these different approaches. Here are a few of the ways you can get your company into social media.
- Sponsored Groups
- Myspace Pages
- Second Life E-Stores
- Youtube/Video Podcasts
- Online Communities
- Flikr Marketing
- Twitter Updates
- Viral Microsites
For a list of retailers who have tried out these strategies, check out this list
But the question remains, how does one not only use social media, but use it effectively to convert customers? Well the mistake sellers often make is seeing social media as simply another selling platform. The truth is that social media is much more analogous to the “word-of-mouth” marketing which all retailers know so well. In the real world, word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t work if the person talking about your business appears to be a salesman trying to push your product down the customers throat. The idea is to create an honest, non-invasive connection between your company and your customers. Things like blogs and twitter are effective because they give your company a face for the public to interact with. This in turn can create a community, a loyal cadre of repeat customers, increasing your conversion rate. One of the cornerstones of web marketing is that a community of repeat viewers is infinitely more valuable than a large group of one time visitors.
Essentially, the key to selling through social marketing is to establish a connection between your product and your consumer. Social Media is meant to foster more than just a commercial relationship between producer and consumer. For example, check out this Zappos’ Blog. This is a good example of a blog created around niche retail products. Zappos is selling products, but they give the impression of working with the customer, helping them find the best products. Most of all they foster conversation, both between them and their customers and among the customers themselves. All of this creates an active buying community. In a lot of ways, social media marketing is about getting the consumers and producers involved. In order to market effectively through your customers, work together with them. Social Media is about cooperation. If done right, that cooperation could work to your benefit.
Some reference articles:
Retailers Using Social Media (list)
Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe (blog)