Social media is the Swiss Army Knife of the digital world. There’s a tool to connect you with friends old and new, find employment opportunities, gather educational information, and share photos and music. Based on those facts, it’s no great surprise that we can add shopping and bargain hunting to social media’s versatile tool box.
The Great Divide
Since the dawn of time men and women have shopped in different ways. For women, shopping is not just an exercise in acquiring necessary goods; there’s very much a social and emotional component to the activity as well. Men, on the other hand, approach shopping in a very practical, no-nonsense way. They go in, they buy the item, and they get out.
The same purchasing differences can be seen today on the various social media platforms. Men primarily use networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to find information about a product, whereas women use these sites to look for sales and bargains, with the intent of sharing their findings with others. Smart e-commerce merchants are paying attention to these gender trends and are using them to tailor their social marketing campaigns accordingly.
Impact is a Fact
Just a few years ago, social media was not considered an essential part of a businesses’ overall marketing strategy. Today, however, companies realize social engagement is not only necessary, it is demanded by their customers and future prospects.
To give you an idea of how social media has changed the landscape of online retail, consider these figures: Online sales are expected to grow to $250 billion by 2014, up from $155 billion in 2009. In 2010, 75% of retailers included social media in their overall marketing strategy, a whopping 51% increase from the year before. These numbers tell a non-fictional story: In order to reach your target audience and get them to buy, you’ve got to hang out where they congregate and creatively engage them.
Don’t Fail with Online Retail
If you wanted to bake a deliciously moist bundt cake, you wouldn’t throw a bunch of random ingredients into the oven and hope for the best. Instead, you would follow a time-tested recipe to insure your cake was a success. The same holds true for your social marketing efforts. Before blindly implementing a strategy, make sure you have a long-term goal in mind and set up a plan with a minimal failure possibility.
Define your objectives and decide on which social media platforms will work best in your industry. Create great content that will not only engage your customers, but help them make informative decisions. And lastly, embrace your audience and allow them to help shape your brand. Listen to them. No research and development department will ever come up with ideas as good as the ones that come from the people who buy your products!
The marriage of e-commerce and social media is still in its honeymoon stage, and just where this exciting couple ends up is anyone’s guess. In the last year, however, there have been online retail trends that indicate a new type of digital consumer is emerging. This new consumer loves naming their own price and being alerted to daily deals. They compare prices, bargain hunt on their Smartphone, and now more than ever – demand free shipping. Retailers take heed!
Social media has come a long way. What started out as a means for all of us to connect with each other has grown into a digital landscape. This virtual marketplace helps make even monotonous tasks simpler, like booking flights and shopping for tires. I can’t wait until social media learns how to clean my house and mow the lawn.