Article by Guest Poster
This article was written by a guest contributor. The author's views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of WHSR.
Social media marketing is evolving constantly, as fast as technology is. The first question you need to ask yourself is whether your company’s strategy evolves at the same rate. When was the last time you changed something in the marketing strategy for your online store? I still come across executives who think keywords are the most important thing they should pay attention to concerning the SEO of their online store, and who focus only on technical aspects of SEO, completely neglecting any social component.
The first and foremost piece of information regarding social media marketing in 2013 you need to know is the fact that ignoring or misunderstanding the importance of social media for online stores significantly reduces the ROI due to losses caused by falling way behind the competition. The implications of social media marketing development for e-commerce online stores are extensive, and dealing with the essence of changes will help you understand these changes and adapt to them, preparing your company for social media marketing in 2013.
Let’s say you want to buy a new cell phone. You found out everything there was to know about the model you are interested in, and now all you need to do is to choose the retailer you are going to buy your phone from. If you had to choose between Amazon and an online shop named Mobile Phones, which you have never even heard of, but is cheaper, which would you choose? Of course you would go for Amazon, because it is a familiar, omnipresent retailer. No one ever buys from someone they are not familiar enough with.
Now, how does one become familiar with a brand? How do people start trusting a brand?
One always trusts those brands they see everywhere, those brands that provide consumers a chance to read about them, get to know their employees as experts in the field, and generally become involved with the life of the company in some way. This will be the most important role of social media marketing in 2013 – branding, building trust and prompting interaction which contributes to building that trust.
Companies need to stop hiding behind their brand in 2013, and so do online retailers. Consumers feel the need to interact on a personal level with companies who want their trust, and those companies need to include their employees as individuals into such interactions.
The ROI issues arise when social media metrics are brought to the table. Namely, it is really difficult to precisely determine the ROI from social media marketing, and that is the most common reason for neglecting it, especially when it comes to online stores, whose success is often measured by profits.
However, is a measurable ROI (ie. direct profit) really the most important gain from social media marketing? My opinion is that it is not so.
Social media marketing creates leads, which lead to selling goods when combined with some other necessary factors. Though leads do not immediately sell, if a lead does not exist, chances are there will be no purchase. The year 2013 will most likely bring about the acceptance of this fact, and a deeper understanding of social media marketing required for social media success.
Accept social media
Your customers spend a lot of time on social networks, and this is where you should interact with them. The logic is the same as with television – advertising through a medium which is interesting to your customers, only, with social media, a certain level of interaction is necessary, which wasn’t the case with television.
Social media may not bring direct income at first, but nevertheless you need to dive into it sooner or later. If you never start dealing with it, you will fall so far behind your competition that it will be very difficult to get back on track. Experiment a little, provide interesting content and develop a strategy along the way, if you are skeptical about social media, and you will soon see how important it is.
Hire a person who understands content marketing
This should be done as soon as possible, since you cannot do everything on your own. An employee who is gifted in communication will know what type of content needs to be shared and how the interaction with the customers should look like, which will save you a lot of effort in trying to figure it out on your own.
Include your employees in content creation
They are your most valuable asset for presenting your online store in the best possible light.
Pay attention to sites with ratings of the products you sell or online shops in general
People do check the reviews of what they are planning to buy before they buy it, so it may be essential that you interact with them while they are doing this, to secure a positive impression by politely explaining things and answering potential complaints.
Be present on several chosen platforms
Do a little research or a survey to find out where your customers are, and then create a presence on their favorite platforms. Currently, 70% of the Fortune 500 company executives are not present in social media. This is bound to change in 2013, as the executives become increasingly aware of the importance of social media. You should create a presence right now so as to be ahead of those who still fail to comprehend social media.
Be aware of the different ways the content is consumed
In 2013, you will need to provide the content about your online shop which is just the right thing for your audience. Also, be aware that you should carefully dose sharing content which promotes your business, and share more purely informational and entertaining content to keep your audience’s attention.
Keep in mind that social media is not a “revenue engine”. It’s most important value lies in creating a firm bond of familiarity and trust with your customers.
With Google’s semantic search, social media becomes your way of creating a complete image of your online store for your customers. Do not miss out on that.
If you want to learn about social media in 2013 in more detail, watch this great video “Social Media in 2013”.
Several ideas expressed in it were incorporated into this article. Enjoy 2013 with social media!