Even with 2011 heralded as the ‘year of e-commerce’, some still doubt that social commerce – sales driven through social media – is having much of an impact on the market. Practical Ecommerce’s recent survey indicated only 5% of total sales are made through social media. Researchers Forrester seem to concur – their newest report on the phenomenon indicates it is a non-factor.
But that’s talking sales. What if you look at the wider picture – not the actual purchases made through social media, but those generated by them?
The sheer number of advertising mediums nowadays – the average TV viewer is bombarded by 80 channels – people have become savvy to the wiles of advertising and marketing. It’s more important that ever to cut through the white noise in order to find something of substance.
That’s where social media comes in – giving consumers a voice and enabling them to guide each other through the clamour of advertising. Word of mouth is a most powerful marketing tool – and social media makes it increasingly easy to harness. So, you might not have sold your product through Facebook – but a host of ‘likes’ from happy customers may well have directed your latest batch of customers to your website.
The potential for social media to build brand awareness – cost effectively too – is immense. Facebook in particular facilitates personal engagement and interaction that helps propel your brand to the forefront of your customers’ minds – and their friends’, as they share their experiences with their online social community.
Social media also enables you to create that most elusive, but valuable customer – an advocate. As your customers become more aware of your brand (thanks to social media!), they engage more. That engagement results in increased loyalty, and they encourage the same engagement and loyalty in their online community. Every tweet, post, status update, like, recommend and page view is another brick that builds a solid reputation with your customers!
And finally – it’s not just about customers getting an insight into you. You get an insight into your customers. You know who is saying it, what’s being said and where it is being said. You get an invaluable insight into the uncensored opinions of your customers about your brand. You might need a thick skin sometimes to listen to them, but rewards are worth it!