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.
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.”
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.
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.