Social media is taking over. Almost everyone you know has at least a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profile, and then there are those people who have joined every new social network as it has come out, even if they never use it (yes, some people still have MySpace accounts). While social media can provide entertainment, news updates and even a look into your friends’ lives (we all have a Facebook stalker in us somewhere), social media has also become a major player in shopping and ecommerce.
Most people use recommendations to decide whether to purchase a product, hire a service, or visit a restaurant. If no one they know has used it, they turn to sites like Yelp and Zagat to get real user reviews. These platforms are becoming an integral part of the shopping process for most consumers, whether buying online or checking reviews before buying in person.
Google sponsored a study a few months ago that showed 90 percent of smartphone shoppers use their device for research before actually buying a product or visiting a store. The ease of access to product and brand information through smartphones and mobile devices makes shopping decisions easier for consumers and changes the marketing focus of brands looking to capitalize on today’s on-the-go shoppers.
As mentioned in our last blog, the path to purchase has changed greatly over the last couple of decades, as every visit to a website is now an opportunity for marketers to try to influence a sale. Consumers can end up at the point of purchase through a variety of steps and a visitor may come to your site 10 times before actually being ready to buy. Each visit should offer immediate gratification, even if the consumer doesn’t choose to buy that time.
To accommodate the mobile shopper, it is more important than ever to have your social media pages claimed and in order with relevant and helpful content (and by keeping up with your social accounts and encouraging interaction, your search rankings will improve). In fact, a recent study showed that 99 percent of retailers surveyed use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and about 90 percent also use Pinterest and Instagram.
Be active on social, encourage interaction, and put your brand everywhere. Ask your current customers to write reviews for you on sites like Yelp and manage negative comments by showing you are open to constructive criticism. Then use those reviews to make what you do even better (notice, we didn’t say get defensive or tell those customers off).
Start gauging whether you are satisfying customer needs and meeting consumer interest with these simple steps:
- Make sure website/ecommerce link is available on all reviews sites, social accounts, etc.
- Keep track of reviews and comments using tracking tools and respond as necessary
- Offer links to third-party reviews with product listings
Even if customers don’t come directly from a social media site, there is a good chance they went to at least one before ending up at your store. Companies with a strong social media presence have a better chance of being found than those without, so creating a social strategy is now critical not only for brand recognition, but for better ecommerce and sales.