Shopability First, Then Social
Social Media is taking the Internet by storm. So much so, that I'm noticing a decline in focus on the usability and functionality of a site.
This begs the question: Are online retailers attempting to use social media as the sole means to build or rebrand their business overnight? If the answer for anyone reading this is yes, then ecommerce, as you know it, is about to take a serious dive.
Don't get me wrong. We need social media. It is, by far, one of the best ways to drum up serious interest in products and special offers. It's competitive with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and is now one of the fastest-growing professional service industries when it comes to online marketing.
The problem is, garnering more traffic doesn't necessarily translate into an increase in sales. Just as you shouldn't pour money into a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign or SEO campaign until your store pages are completely shopable, you shouldn't spend all your time on social media if the average visitor is spending but a few seconds on your site.
Note: I say average because with social media you can expect increased traffic, but also increased bounce rates. Many users are now being directed to look at you (through quick posts with grabbing headlines) without actually searching for you.
I recently spent hours combing through hundreds of professional groups on LinkedIn and it was quite interesting:
As of writing this post, there are 191 professional (that means non-networking, discussion) groups found by searching the term ecommerce, 232 on the term e-commerce and a scant 40 on the term online store. More than half are either shopping-cart or company-service specific, and the few that are for actual non-proprietary discussion have very little action. One group entitled "Online Retailer" has only a few posts, which link to marketing sites. The largest group I could find had about 25,000 members, but it covered a broad range of topics.
A simple search on the term social media (with the filter of professional group) garnered more than 1,000 results, with the top one boasting more than 100,000 members.
My quest to reach out to online store owners, designers and developers has not been easy. Even the terms to find my own site lean more toward common social media keywords than ecommerce, usability, review, and so on. And while the bulk of my long-term clients are paying attention to shopability as well as marketing efforts, I see more and more companies allocating big money to social media and little- to no-money to improving the flow of the store.
Is social media going to be the next thing small businesses find actually loses money because they didn't make sure everything was in order before making grand investments of time and cash? Only time will tell. But I watched this same thing happen when PPC was initially becoming popular, then again when store owners were convinced they had to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a SEO campaign in order to beat out their competition. I still get calls regularly from small business owners, some nearly in tears over the amount of money they invested in AdWords and SEO only to find out navigating their store was cumbersome at best.
With social media, where you can often expect to see a decrease in conversions (you have to focus on overall sales increases more than ever), we have to pay more attention to site pages and how we use up key real estate.
In short, you can have 100,000 followers on Twitter and have a grand presence on Facebook, but if your store isn't shopable, you really don't have much. When determining budgets of time and money, you need a healthy balance of marketing, store maintenance and design, and customer service. Lend too much weight to any of these, and the other needs will suffer.
If you're interested in getting a leg up on usability (whether for the first time or umpteenth attempt), I’ve created a LinkedIn Group: Shopability Matters. It's small, less than 20 members right now, but it will be focused on actual needs rather than sales pitches and over-socialization of content.
Last Week, I was in the Ecommerce Summit in São Paulo, and give an an advice for a smal retail business. If his budget is low, and have an small team, he should first focus on have better product discriptions, take better products pictures, improve his comprability than spand time in the social networks.
Hey Pamela! Definitely, I agree with you. Social Media is boon for business if takes properly. Today, interaction with social media increase quickly and no one can want miss this opportunity.
Isabella Jordan says:
Awesome Post Social Media is the one plays the vital role in online business