Practical Ecommerce

Social Media Marketing: Four Steps for Getting Started

Let’s take a moment to map out a cheap and effective social media strategy. Understand that cheap does not mean easy. This will take a dedicated effort and a lot of hours. But those hours could be more valuable than a high-priced advertising campaign.

Step One: Commit Yourself to Communication

It is imperative that you recognize the difference between communicating and selling. Never sell. Just listen, help, and tell. If you advertise via social media, your audience will not welcome you and you will not be effective. Build relationships and the sales will follow.

Think of social media as the world’s largest cocktail party. You are there to mix, mingle, and work the room. You can hand out business cards but don’t personally try to sell anything. If people understand you and are impressed by your knowledge, they may take a look at your business card and decide to give you a call.

Step Two: Start a Blog

People are more comfortable buying from someone they know, respect, and trust. The purpose of your blog is to build credibility. You can post links to your blog on social media sites. A couple of blogging platforms I recommend are WordPress and Tumblr.

Step Three: Lurk

While you are working on Step Two, get your social media accounts set up and start lurking. Lurking is the equivalent of “working the room” at the cocktail party. Listen before diving into the conversations on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Step Four: Participate in the Conversation

Once you have enough content on your blog to make it interesting, you can start participating in the conversation. Engaging, humorous or insightful answers and posts will drive people to your blog. Your blog will carry the branding and information about your online store.

Summing Up

Many online merchants find the concept of social media to be foreign and uncomfortable. But social media is a direct to consumer tool that gives small businesses marketing power equal to their larger competitors. Put aside your reservations and start using it. With hard work and the basic guidelines I’ve outlined, you can increase your online sales and build a more prosperous business.

Lawrence Cramer

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  1. ShaliniBahl November 25, 2009 Reply

    I agree with you completely with respect to your communication and conversation points. Interestingly, so many people don’t get the "social" part of social media.

    However, I don’t necessarily agree about Blogging be essential for all, even though I am a big fan of it myself. I think based on the purpose and target audience one can use other platforms like a facebook group to connect and engage customers. Especially, if you are a boutique, you can easily have pictures and videos of how to wear different garments, new fashion trends posted on a facebook group.

    To add to your points, I wrote about creating a social media plan based on purpose and target audience and one that listens, informs, and participates.

  2. Chiara Bolognini November 25, 2009 Reply

    I am a Social Media Manager, beyond all other job titles, and I see your point completely. However, I would add to your article that when we speak about Social Media Marketing we should even speak about how to define the metrics which have to measure the monetization got through a Social Media campaign. If we do not analyse the interrelations between the growth of the social media presence and the growth of sales before and after starting our Social Media campaign, it will be ineffective in terms of business reports which are the foundation for the ensuing investments in social media.

  3. Kelsi Guidry November 27, 2009 Reply

    Great little post here! Really love the quote. "Never sell. Just listen, help, and tell" and the part that social media is like a cocktail party. There is SO many people who do not understand this. They think just because they have thousands of followers on Twitter it is really helping something when they don’t communicate with any of them.

    However… I HIGHLY disagree with ShaliniBahl’s comment on this article. A blog is not essential???? Because you can just create a Facebook Group? or Fan Page?? Just because you are something like a Boutique? Come on!! You MUST have a home base of your own! You must create quality content to drive people back to a place of your own. This will give you the best way to monetize. You use things like Facebook as an Outpost to your blog. Why would you want to pull people to a place on the internet that is not truly yours? You can read more of my rant about the importance of blogging at the following link.