Field Test: Social Networking, Part 1 of 3
In Field Test, Practical eCommerce has gathered ten seasoned ecommerce merchants and asked each of them the same questions around a given topic. This month’s topic is social networking.
The participating ecommerce merchants are: Dave Norris, House of Antique Hardware; Justin Hertz, MuttMart; Chris Stump, Only Hammocks; Mike Reiman, PoolDawg; Dan Stewart, Xtreme Diesel Performance; Roman Kagan, Appliance Parts Pros; Cindy Barrileaux, Write Your Best; Claudette Cyr, Gear-Source; Mike Butler, Bloom Designs Nursery; Kristen Taylor, Juvie.
The responses for three of the ten merchants follow below. The answers are shown to preserve anonymity.
PeC: Which social networking sites do you visit?
FIELD TESTER 1: Facebook.com, Kaboodle.com, Stumbleupon.com, Yelp.com, Myfoxla.com, Dogpile.com, Del.icio.us, Iliketotallyloveit.com.
FIELD TESTER 2: Linkedin.com and Facebook.com.
FIELD TESTER 3: I visit Meetup.com, Linkedin.com, and occasionally Myspace.com.
PeC: Which social networking sites do you market your business on?
FIELD TESTER 1: None, which is the beauty of social networking sites. They do the work for you, for free.
FIELD TESTER 2: Linkedin.com.
FIELD TESTER 3: Different forums and Linkedin.com.
PeC:_ Do you monitor traffic and/or sales from social networking sites?_
FIELD TESTER 1: Yes, via Google Analytics.
FIELD TESTER 2: Not really.
FIELD TESTER 3: No need at this point.
PeC: How does your ecommerce business use social networking for marketing purposes?
FIELD TESTER 1: At the most, we list our site and/or recommend a few new items on social networking sites. We also monitor comments users make in order to gauge customer service and what people like or don’t like about us.
FIELD TESTER 2: At the present time, we don’t use it much. We’re still evaluating any potential benefits.
FIELD TESTER 3: At this point, I only market my services by active participation in industry specific forums.
PeC: Can you describe both successes and frustrations that you’ve encountered with social networking sites?
FIELD TESTER 1: Sometimes social networking sites can drive a huge amount of traffic to the site all at once, but these are not necessarily people who are in buying mode. They just like finding cool stuff on the web. Even 2,000 views to a particular item coming from Stumbleupon.com resulted in only one sale. However, getting that many eyeballs into the store can certainly help when those same people want to make a purchase later on. We hope that they will remember our fabulous wares and come back looking for more.
FIELD TESTER 2: The little we have done has returned only non-relevant traffic with no sales or leads. We can’t report any successes at this time.
FIELD TESTER 3: My participation on the forums has gotten positive private responses from other members. I am getting word of my services to a wider audience. The frustration is that it takes a lot of time to stay current on forums, and my message is easily lost in the midst of hundreds of others.
PeC: What are your plans for utilizing social networking sites in the next 12 months?
FIELD TESTER 1: Continue to submit our site and new items, and monitor other people submitting on our behalf.
FIELD TESTER 2: We’ll continue to research and test to see if we can get to a point where the benefits outweigh the hassles.
FIELD TESTER 3: I plan to learn more about the potential for Myspace.com and Facebook.com as a way to network and market. I will set up sites on both, if they look promising. I’m actually looking forward to seeing other responses to these questions!