Social Media & E-Commerce

Online shopping in India has caught on like wild fire which has been blazing for quite some time now. Retailers have finally accepted the importance of e-commerce, and if they don't have their own online stores, they sell their products online through other e-commerce websites. Social media was acknowledged as a powerful marketing tool several years ago, with enterprises across verticals making it the pivotal point of their marketing and customer engagement strategy. While several suppliers in the US, especially those selling consumer products, are using social media to promote their e-commerce websites, Indian e-commerce vendors are yet to fully leverage the marketing potential of social media websites.

Digg, Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare RSS Feeds, Blogs, and YouTube, are just some of the sites that have been used to turn what was once a sea of people looking for connections over the internet into a community. It's a realm every e-commerce website owner should incorporate to attract traffic to their portal and increase the customer base. Becoming a part of social media communities opens up a world of marketing opportunities such as viral marketing, promotions, customer satisfaction and loyalty programs, customer research, and advertising. For instance, if an online shoe store wants to promote its products through social media it can advertize on sites such as Facebook, it can encourage and reward its customers to "like" its Facebook page, it can reward its customers for recommending its products to their social network, and it can use social media websites to understand customer feedback and requirements.

Social media conversations are especially useful for understanding consumer trends. For instance, according to a recent analysis by Nielsen/McKinsey of social media conversations in India, one-fourth of the buzz on online retailing is now being garnered by discount sites or 'deal-tailers'. So while the multi-category retailers and entertainment sites are driving business through content and exclusive deals, the deal and discount sites will continue to differentiate on the basis of daily and limited period deals on branded products. This trend was determined by using e-commerce trends displayed through customer conversations on social media websites. Suppliers and brands now know where and how to increase sales.

One reason why so many suppliers are turning to social media is that it's a cost-effective way to establish relationships with customers. Moreover, it serves as a great source of open feedback and competitor intelligence, and fans and followers of branded social media pages are more likely to buy from that supplier and recommend it to friends and family. There are several popular social media channels used for promoting e-commerce businesses:

  • Blogs: These become the primary hub for creating and sharing content, while also helping with search engine optimization and marketing to niche audiences.
  • Facebook: The most popular and widely used marketing channel which allows you to engage your customer audience and use them to champion your brand. You can share content, provide an insider's view of your company and get fans to interact with each other.
  • Twitter: Keeps you connected with the outer circle and potential clients. This is another place to spread content, while giving you the opportunity to engage in quick, often real-time, two-way dialogues with your customers.
  • LinkedIn: An ideal medium to build a professional network and build brands that are more B2B. You can spread content and also join industry forums to build your network. It's also a great platform to build the image of a "thought leader" or a "trend setter" for an enterprise.
  • YouTube: The perfect place to show off yourself, your personality and your products. This is the perfect place to educate customers, allowing them to experience your product online.

There's no denying the importance of social media in the e-commerce industry. The amount of time, effort and money that a supplier will put into the social media campaign will show in sales, website visits and a great brand reputation.



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