Practical Ecommerce

Social Media As A Marketing Strategy in 2008

2007 was a good year for holiday shopping. comScore reported that online shopping totaled nearly $28 billion, up 19 percent from 2006. Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all had record traffic compared to previous years, according to Hitwise. Hopefully, your business experienced similar results.

But that was then. This is now.

As you look forward to 2008, what marketing tactics are you deploying that will improve your bottom line even more? Is the use of social media a consideration? If not, it should be.

According to MediaPost, one out of every four Internet users visit sites such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr at least once a month. And as social networks become more commonplace, the percentage is only going to increase in both the number of visitors as well as frequency of visits.

What does this portend for you?

To answer that, let me refer to a long-held mantra: “Markets are conversations. Participation is marketing.”

If your customers are engaged in conversations on social networks, blogs and other forms of social media, shouldn’t you be as well? Let me suggest a basic strategy you can employ right now to join the conversation:

  • Monitor the conversation going on about you, your company and your
    products. Begin subscribing to RSS feeds using Google Reader
    (Reader.google.com). Google News and Technorati are two good places to
    start.For a good explanation of what RSS is and how to subscribe to feeds, visit Commoncraft.com and view a short video entitled RSS in Plain English. It’s absolutely the best explanation I’ve found and entertaining, too! 


  • Respond via comments on blog posts, forums, or consumer review sites. When you find your company is being talked about, don’t be passive, especially if what’s being said is negative in tone. Be respectful and state your case. More than once, I’ve seen critics become advocates simply because their complaints were responded to by a representative in the company.

  • 
Become a proactive participant. Start a blog. Set up a business page on Facebook, create a profile at MySpace and Squidoo, or even go so far as to create your own social network using one of the many tools available, such as Ning (Ning.com).

Over the next few months I’m going to take considerable pains to break down specific strategies and tactics. But you don’t have to wait for me. Take time to do some research. Tips and advice on how to use social media for marketing purposes abound.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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Comments ( 11 )

  1. Legacy User January 2, 2008 Reply

    A commended post. Online marketers have to realize that customers are talking about them and other competitors in forums, blogs, and other arenas, so they might as well contribute in the conversation. The hardest part is resisting the urge to advertise. Being helpful is a much better advertisement for your company than any sales pitch.

    Michelle Greer
    Volusion.com

    — *Michelle Greer*

  2. Legacy User January 3, 2008 Reply

    Paul – your usual practical advise, especially the link to Commoncraft for the explaination on RSS. A really good follow-up would be to do a report card on the various social networking platforms (pluses & minuses). There are so many to weed out, and it's hard to take time to test drive them all….

    — *Rich Jacobson*

  3. Legacy User January 3, 2008 Reply

    MediaPost says that one out of every four Internet users visit sites such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr at least once a month.

    I think that sounds impressive until you think about it. 25 per cent visit a site like this once a month? Once. That is not the same as visiting your site. It is someone elses site with a ton of noise (conversation). It takes a large bit of effort to rise in just one network let alone the gajillion that pop up every month. Those that enter to just siphon of traffic are easily identified. So it is important to add to the theme or topic. It is a real conversation.

    Getting into the conversation takes effort or one risks sounding stupid. Which obviously is the opposite effect one wants. So I would warn to pick one or two and develop a strategy that can scale for your organization.

    Tim OKeefe
    SpiderJuiceTechnologies.com
    HouseBlogger.com

    — *Tim OKeefe*

  4. Legacy User January 3, 2008 Reply

    HOWEVER… don't feel that you must respond to EVERY criticism you find. You may simply be pouring gasoline onto the fire.

    Pick your battles and state your position clearly. People may respond more to HOW you say things rather than WHAT you say.

    Charles Seymour Jr.
    StageMagazineOnline.com
    Where Theater Lives Online!

    — *Charles Seymour Jr*

  5. Legacy User January 3, 2008 Reply

    Social Media accounts for allot of online sales for start-ups in our arena (fashion). Problem is, social sites control the data being delivered. In alot of cases sites like MySpace tend to be a little pretentious and block out-going links, and frown on the same companies who's self promotion postings helped make them so popular. An annoyance, but never-the-less a necessity. If your not making waves, nobody is going to do it for you. At least not without compensation. ;-)

    Shaun B.
    VintageLimited.com

    — *Shaun B.*

  6. Legacy User January 4, 2008 Reply

    It does take time to test all social networks…but to be successful at social network marketing you have to believe in LUCK.

    — *Earle Moore, Youngdread.net*

  7. Legacy User January 6, 2008 Reply

    Thanks for the comments each of you. One of the things I like about interactive media is that the comments are often more spot on and insightful than the blog post or article itself. Such is the case here.

    — *Paul Chaney*

  8. Legacy User January 4, 2008 Reply

    Yeh, it's too evident now that social media is important.

    Seth Godin's new book Meatball Sundae talks about 14 trends that are changing the way ideas are perceived and spread:

    – direct communication and commerce btw producers and consumers

    -amplification of the voice of the consumer and independant authorities

    – the need for an authentic story as the number of sources increases

    – extremely short attention spans due to clutter

    – the long tail

    – outsourcing

    – google and the dicing of everything

    – infinite channels of communication

    – direct comunication and commerce btw consumers and consumers

    – the shifts in scarcity and abundance

    – the triumph of big ideas

    – the shift from 'how many' to 'who'

    – the wealthy are like us

    – new gatekeepers

    On web-strategist.com, Jeremiah is starting to get really specific about strategies for 2008, as more and more money will start pouring in. It's not just about playing with these new toys, but about syncing your organization with this new form of marketing. Although newer concepts are better aligned with this new wave, older organizations should not be hopeless. There's a great post about 'all forms of web marketing' on web-strategist and his latest post talks about the 'intranet'.

    So remember the social web as both internal and external, and how to adapt accordingly. Mass marketing is dying, and it's really more about understanding where things are headed as opposed to just understanding technologies. When pitching to your execs about social media, avoid using tech terms and focus on the benefits.

    Make remarkable products.

    — *Azam Khan*

  9. Legacy User January 5, 2008 Reply

    I've been thinking of Squidoo but heard that Google considers lenses spam, which has badly hurt traffic. Not sure if that's still the case.

    Jason Fox
    SwissWatchBoutique.com

    — *Jason Fox*

  10. Legacy User January 14, 2008 Reply

    I'm going to throw in my two cents here. Currently, I'm working under a contract for somebody building up their social networking profiles across 4 different social networking websites. I've designed the MySpace page, created a Facebook page with appropriate apps, created groups in Facebook targeting those people who would be mostly likely to use my clients "services" and or products, established a asmallworld account for my client, and am working on building up Linkedin connections.

    Now, my client has a range of different services and products they are trying to promote and each of these sites is geared towards "branding" one or more of those specific products or services depending on the website's demographics, features, and functionality.

    Where am I going with all of this? Hold on a minute and you'll see…

    Now, with Facebook I've established group "communities" where my client provides insight into the topic people are seeking advice on. The two groups are actually very active, productive and useful entities in and of themselves, and my client's name is attached to them. Every member that joins will know who they are. Every member then joins will also become aware of the products or services my client has to offer. They can choose to purchase them or not. So far, the money my client has spent on me has already been made up in sales of said products and services gained through those groups.

    I log into and and run the profile, passing on messages and social website emails via regular email to my client, and they respond to them, and I post the replies where appropriate, either as comments or responses to topics posted. I do all of the grunt work that my client does not have the time, or know how, to do.

    The Facebook groups are at a point now where new members are joining daily and I don't have to do hardly any promotion. Its a self sustaining beast. The majority of my time spent now is managing the community I've created, updating events and posting new content.

    The reason why I suggested why my client start a profile on MySpace was because of the demographic search capability. The fact that you can search by age, location, income, sex, relationship, etc. etc. lets me target people whom would be more inclined to use my clients services or products which translates into traffic to my clients website that is more targeted, and with more purpose. The interactivity and "MySpace only free content" that is provided and updated keeps people returning to the page, and encourages participation. Not to mention gives my client a more "personable" image to hundreds and thousands of people that they would probably not normally have reached.

    I write "as" my client in some instances where it is not needed they respond. So trust is a major factor between the two of us. I am fully in charge of their reputation and how they are perceived.

    I can tell you all that after working for a few months on this project, that I believe there is a HUGE, HUGE potential to reach people and market products or services that can translate into sales at a fairly high rate.

    There are a lot of people out there that do not have the tech savvy or social networking know how, or even the time to do this themselves and I've found that there IS a demand for this type of service. Just through word of mouth alone I'm getting offers for work from enough people to where I'm in the process of establishing my own business.

    Social networking to me, is a viable and potentially lucrative forum for marketing that I believe is here to stay. It does take quite a bit of work to establish these communities, and a fair amount of work to maintain them in a productive way, but it is possible and in my opinion worth it.

    And there you have it!

    — *CA*

  11. Legacy User June 3, 2008 Reply

    Nice post.
    These days marketing has transformed into relationship marketing and social media let companies do exactly that much more effectively.

    — *Ankit Garg*