Practical Ecommerce

“New Community Rules” Is An Introduction to Social Media Marketing

An increasing number of online retailers are recognizing that it is possible to earn more money and have happier customers simply by engaging those customers in authentic and personal ways.

When an industry is in its infancy (such as ecommerce was just a few years ago) it is possible to be crass and still be successful thanks to the novelty of the industry or the novelty of technology behind the industry.

As an example, a few years ago I consulted with an electronic component retailer whose site offered no customer service options, discouraged returns, and was originally designed by the owner’s niece who chose a pastel color palette and one of the least effective shopping carts I’d seen.

Cover of New Community Rules

When I was negotiating my contract, the site’s head of operations made a point of showing me that he kept a revolver in his desk. Nice, right? Yet, initially, that business did more than $4 million a year in sales. In a slightly more mature ecommerce industry those sorts of tactics and practices just don’t fly.

Social media marketing is a novelty. As a result, many ecommerce marketers are rushing into Facebook, Twitter, product reviews, and other community-facing/web 2.0 communications channels and acting with no more sensitivity than the gun-wielding transistor sales company manager in my example. If those rude marketers have success it won’t likely last.

A Comprehensive and Long View of Communities

In her recent book, “The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web,” Internet marketing expert Tamar Weinberg provides a comprehensive and example-rich introduction to marketing socially without upsetting community residents. She encourages the sort of authentic interaction in online communities that blurs the line between marketing to potential customers and befriending potential customers.

This concept of genuinely engaging customers will take patience. That’s a point Weinberg makes when she writes, “If you are looking for a sure-shot way to achieve fast results, this book is not for you. Like any marketing discipline, social media marketing takes diligence, effort, and persistence.”

Abundant Examples

Weinberg introduces the reader to hundreds of sites and hubs that either serve as examples, inspiration, or marketing channels.

Excellent Introduction for Social Media Marketing Novices

In general, readers new to social media will enjoy an extensive introduction that accurately describes the current state of Internet communities and provides significant insight into the historical trends that have led us into the Twitter age.

Summing Up

Executed well, a social media marketing campaign can generate thousands or even millions of links and earn your company an army of loyal customers. One step toward achieving a well executed social media marketing campaign involves understanding the best ways to engage communities. Weinberg’s book is a great place to start.


Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Kevin Wray November 17, 2009 Reply

    The old days of build it and wait for the register to ring are over. At the least, customers want a handshake when they click through the door, and perhaps even a hug. With all the deal searching going on out there, providing assistance in any form can help create a relationship before customers go back to Google… Customers feel obligated to buy from a merchant that takes the time to provide shopping recommendations.

    Meijer.com gets this notion, and recently added human shopping assistance to their site. See: Internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=32292

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