The rise of social media has changed the game in regards to how internet consumers conduct research on products that they intend to buy.
Pew Research’s Internet Project breaks down social media use among adults by charting key demographics that provide website entrepreneurs a glimpse of social media’s rapid adaptation. In January of 2014, Pew noted that nearly 3 of 4 internet users used social media in some way, shape or form.
With social media being the preferred mode of online communication for modern consumers, it becomes natural to engage your website’s visitors using various platforms that conform to the product you are trying market.
You might be asking yourself, “How can I take advantage of social media in a way that will add value to my website?”
Prepare Your Social Media Strategy Before Building Your Website
Before you register a domain name for your project, it would be prudent to check social media websites to see if your domain name has been already taken as a username on any of the popular social media websites.
One of the most notable examples of a major online company not doing their due diligence is the case of NetFlix.
In 2011, Netflix infamously tried to divide it’s company into two separate entities. The online side of the business would remain Netflix while the DVD delivery service would be spun off as a new entity called Qwikster. Other than alienating their customer base with this announcement, Netflix neglected to check the social media website Twitter to see if the Qwikster username was already taken.
Unfortunately for Netflix, @Qwikster (currently inactive since 2011) was already registered to a teenager that openly bragged about using recreational drugs on his Twitter feed.
Just a few minutes of due diligence could have saved Netflix the embarrassment of launching a tainted brand name.
Don’t let this happen to you!
Research potential usernames that you would create for your new website’s social media campaign before registering the domain name itself.
You will want to keep your social media user names as close to or exactly the same as your domain name on social media platforms. If this strategy isn’t possible and you have already selected a domain, ensure that your usernames on social media websites conforms with the keywords you are targeting in search engines as this could fit into your website’s search engine optimization plans.
The Top 3 Social Media Platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Google+
Pew Research’s Internet Project mentions that 71% of adults that use the internet had a Facebook account as of September 2013.
The report also concludes that 19% of adults on the internet have a Twitter account while the number for Google+ varies due to the fact that all Google accounts have the ability to use the Google+ social network.
Simply creating a username that is like your domain name and posting links back to your website will help you pick up some search engine traffic but what good is social media if people aren’t regularly following, sharing or commenting on your posts? Since each of these social networks operate differently, it becomes necessary to form a strategy that differs slightly based on the specific social media platform you select and the product you intend to sell.
Below are some quick tips that will help you succeed on each platform.
Facebook: Create a business page and start inviting your friends to like it. When you begin establishing real likes, the credibility of your Facebook marketing arm will perpetually increase. Ask yourself this, would you buy from a business that you came across on Facebook that only had 10 likes versus a product that had a couple hundred likes? When you make Facebook posts, it is advisable to do so before 9AM so that your followers have all day to digest the material on your post. You should always post an eye catching picture that includes some sort of call to action.
P.S. Facebook allows you to integrate a commenting system directly onto your blog that allows those with a Facebook account to reply without having to register with a third party. If your website is a blog, look for plugins that achieve this task as some experts suggest that search engines rank highly commented material higher than material without comments. When users have to register another account to comment, they likely won’t comment at all.
Twitter: With Twitter, you can only post 160 characters therefore if you have a lengthy announcement, its better to include a headline and a link to your blog, rather than several bombastic tweets in succession. Twitter is also useful for displaying status updates, new and upcoming products announcements and gaining valuable feedback from your visitors. If there is a trending hashtag that instantly relates to your product, service or website, ensure that you stay on top of these trends and hashtag appropriately. Your website or product could go viral, which would equate to added value onto your enterprise.
Google+: Some folks believe that Google+ is a ghost town. Others believe that Google+ is ready to burst open with success. Since many internet users utilize Gmail as their e-mail client, they have access to the plethora of Google services including Google+ and YouTube. Since Google is the most widely used search engine in the world, you can add site value by cross posting any new information or announcements onto Google+. If you are able to create videos for your product, upload them to Youtube with a link back to your social media pages and your website’s URL. When you post your video onto Youtube and your Google+ feed, you will be surprised how quickly your website begins to rise in search engine results pages which will positively impact the value of your website.
Social Media’s Real Purpose: Consumer Engagement
Executing a successful social media campaign could feel like a job in itself. Luckily, freemium tools exist to help you take your social media campaign to the next level. Below are a couple of tools that will help you stay engaged with your website’s visitors:
IceRocket – This tool allows you to keep an eye on social media websites without having to sleuth around the internet to do so. What if a client mentions your product outside of your established social media channels? How would you know? Any mention of negativity around your brand or product could spell out the end of your endeavor. IceRocket gives you the insight on what social media users are saying about your website, which will allow you to better engage with those who have questions, comments or feedback about your products.
Swayy – Maybe you’re lacking content or material to post on social media. How can you remind your followers that you exist if you have no new content or social media posts? How will search engines rank you if you are sporadically posting content on social media versus posting on social media consistently? Swayy can help answer these questions. When you become a member of Swayy, you will receive suggestions on what to post on social media websites such as videos, infographics, the correct hashtags to use and much more. Swayy gives your social media campaign consistency, which only adds to your bottom line.
An Example of how Social Media can Transform Your Online Business
Social media is often used to query potential customers on what it is that they actually want to buy. When you look at social media from this aspect, you begin to realize how much of a disruptive marketing and research tool social media can be.
In the past, large corporate organizations have paid firms millions to answer the simple question, “What is it that my customers actually want to buy and how much are they willing to pay for it?”
Social media now gives entrepreneurs the data they need in order to make their next move at a fraction of what it would cost to hire a traditional marketing and research firm.
Diana and Josh Harbour operate the Red Dress Boutique based near Athens, Georgia. You may remember that the couple recently received a $1.2M investment on the hit TV show Shark Tank. The Red Dress Boutique’s online endeavors started as a side project which has exploded over the past few years.
Did the young married couple invest in an expensive marketing campaign? Of course not!
They organically built their brand using social media.
Diana Harbour would simply travel to fashion shows, take pictures of the models and ask her followers a simple question, what would you pay for something like this? If the response was overwhelmingly positive, Harbour would go out and find similar wardrobes and list them for sale on her website at a price point that generated a profit while giving her customers a good deal.
By using social media to directly engage their customers and ask what it is that they would want to buy and what they were willing to spend on the attire, the Red Dress Boutique rose from obscurity into a business on track to do $12M in sales at the end of 2014.
It’s no doubt that social media is a powerful tool that can add site value. If you can master the art of customer engagement over social media, your business can enjoy the same successes that others have enjoyed just by putting yourself out there and interacting with those who are interested in your website’s offerings.