In all likelihood, someone who manages an ecommerce website has at least given a thought to using these sites to further their business objectives. As an ecommerce professional, maybe you have tried, and are struggling on several of them. But you keep plugging on, utilizing every feature of every site you have signed up for. And there seem to be no results.
There is a secret that social media marketers have been surprisingly lax in sharing: you should only focus on one social platform. Not in the long term, of course, but in the beginning. You create and work on a single profile. When you have an active following, and have found some success, you take the next step and create your identity on a different site, following the same process.
Create, Cultivate, Repeat
If you think about it, this makes much more sense than throwing yourself into the ring with every social website. It gives you a more single-minded experience, allowing you to target a specific user base. You can learn through trial and error. Plus, it makes it easier to utilize reputation-management and branding strategies if you haven't stretched yourself too thin.
Choosing the Right Platform
This does leave you with a dilemma, though. Which social media platform will be the right one to launch your social efforts? How do you know if you are hitching your horse to the right carriage?
There is no surefire way of doing this. In the end, it comes down to those little elements that make you, and your business, unique. Those qualities become the deciding factor in what social website you use to take your first step.
The Major Contenders
Let's look at the main choices, and how they stack up.
With the highest number of users, and the most business-friendly interface, Facebook is a staple for ecommerce. Not only has Mark Zuckerberg said many times that he believes that social media shopping is the way of the future, but he has shown it in practice.
Users can now create actual storefronts through their Facebook business accounts. Accessible from their main profile, endless services have been created to make a valid store, shopping cart, and checkout, with little work.
There are also fan pages, contests, and low cost ad campaigns available onsite.
While it may not be aimed so much at ecommerce transactions, it is great for marketing your ecommerce business. Thanks to the live update and unique algorithm they use in their search, it has become a powerhouse for reputation monitoring.
For example, performing a simple search can show you what anyone has said about your brand recently. This allows you to respond in real time, deal with criticism and bad experiences, and communicate with customers directly.
Social media dashboards like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck work especially well with Twitter. They allow you to get full analytics, while keeping up with your profile more efficiently.
It can be difficult to gauge the usability of Google+ for business purposes. The main reason being that it is hard to know how many active users it has. Technically, there are more that 250 million registered users on the site. But a fair percentage of those merely had a Gmail account that automatically activated a Google+ profile.
While you could take advantage of Google+ for social media sharing and communication, most recommend against it as a primary business account.
There seems to be some confusion regarding the application of LinkedIn. It is not a place for you to advertise your business, reach customers, or otherwise market a company.
Instead, it is a place to market you. Connect with other entrepreneurs, network with helpful contacts, and set up a web of likeminded individuals, who might become affiliates or partners later on. Just don't mistake it as a platform akin to Facebook.
Pinterest showed up out of nowhere, and became popular really fast. Rather isolated until recently, no one quite knew how it would shape up as a new form of social networking. Now, it has become a powerhouse on its own, growing by the day.
There is no denying this is a powerful tool for any ecommerce site. Because it is entirely image-driven, you can drive traffic, and find customers by presenting your product images along with links to your site.
However, it does not work as effectively as a primary social media site. The demographic is still almost entirely within the US, with only a small percentage of international users. Plus, it is a niche site that only has a loyal, but not extensive, base.
Setting up an account is a great idea if it is combined with social presence elsewhere. Facebook is a great choice, because it has been synced with Pinterest for a while now.
What you choose is going to rely almost entirely on the needs of your company. Direct sales point to Facebook, marketing to Twitter, networking to LinkedIn, and so on. It can be beneficial to spend some time, and chalk out exactly what you want from a social media platform before selecting one.