Social media is a wonderful thing. AJ Bombers boosted sales when it attracted 161 Foursquare users in one day. Many Starbucks locations were flooded on tax day (April 15) when it gave out free coffee to those wielding their own, reusable cups. (They promoted the event heavily on Twitter.) Even smaller businesses, like Retro Planet, are reaching out to their customers, (in Retro Planet’s case, offering coupons and sharing retro stories via Twitter).
With social media growing more and more popular, it makes sense to incorporate it into online stores, especially since intrigued shoppers can quickly share information about you and what you sell in just two clicks. Word-of-mouth advertising has always been a popular means of increasing sales, and it’s a key reason some businesses have remained successful.
Some ecommerce sites, however, have forgotten one key point: The purpose of an online store is to sell products and make money. Over-socializing pages can actually distract would-be customers, preventing you from achieving your true goal. It’s time to take a look at your ecommerce site and determine if your primarily promoting sales, or prompting shoppers to read and discuss their findings.
Here are some tips for store owners and designers when it comes to business vs social media:
- Don’t display too many social icons. Not only is it distracting to the eyes, it prompts shoppers to spend more time “sharing” than shopping.
- Don’t disrupt the shopping flow. Social icons and share tools shouldn’t distract from the product selection and add to cart process. No, you shouldn’t put social icons right next to the Add button.
- Don’t treat product pages as you would a blog post or news story. They are entirely different. Note that certain social sites aren’t built to archive product pages – sites like Digg, for example, are for news and blog posts, not sales pitches. If you use an all-encompassing tool to provide for sharing across scores of networks, filter out those that simply don’t apply.
Keep in mind that just because you may be heavily involved with social media, that doesn’t mean all the visitors to your site see the same value in it. (Need tips on that? See my post, Are Your Visitors Anti-Social? at Practical eCommerce.) Don’t lose sight of the true purpose of ecommerce and shopability – pages need to be tailored to suit the largest possible audience, even if that means lending less weight to the social aspect.