Social media is connecting more people with more services and products than any other marketing effort of the past. But who’s really behind all those posting accounts?
In May I attended the Social Media Success Summit. Dozens of hours of training covering topics like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging and more. Educators gave us tips and tricks, while successful companies unveiled just how they did it. I got a great deal of new ideas – sparks that flew as a result of other things being mentioned.
Several days in, I posted a topic at the Summit’s LinkedIn group, asking how many attendees there were either online store owners or consultants for ecommerce sites. More than a week later, my request had garnered one reply. This, coupled with many other trends I’ve noticed in the online world has led me to some startling conclusions about the bulk of store owners I work with regularly.
I work with hundreds of online stores, and thousands more order from my company’s site. We see all the feedback and recognize the lack of presence by many of these small businesses in social media markets.
They aren’t involved with Social Media themselves. The majority of them have little to no presence at the plethora of sites designed to give them more traffic. And the few that are on either don’t know what they’re doing or are enlisting or paying someone else to do something they also don’t understand.
- They don’t see learning how to use social tools, or hiring someone to spearhead it all for them, as a viable investment. Many who’ve tried soon abandoned their accounts or post very sporadically. Why? Because they don’t see immediate increases in sales or conversion rates. (Last month I wrote about how social media can actually lower a store’s conversion rate.)
- They think social media is about fun and games, rather than a prime outlet to bring services and products to the masses. They read headlines about Facebook privacy, Farmville and location services and think that people are only on these networks to have fun. While that may be a significant reason for a broad number of people, tons of companies have proven that social media networks can increase sales because folks are always looking for something fresh and new, as well as exclusive discounts and offers.
- They think social media – as we know it today – is a fad. What makes something a fad? Years ago the bulk of online conversations took place via Usenet. While times have changed, the need to communicate hasn’t. Usenet, in every facet of what it did, was a form of social media. When graphically-intense (think colors and pictures) web sites came along and boasted forums, people diverted to those, but still, they were being social. (Ironically, a good amount of us bailed on forums quickly and returned to Usenet because interaction seemed more immediate.) In essence, Twitter is more like Usenet than anything else – a single login gives you access to any conversation. In short, people will always want to communicate, share and find deals on the Internet.
- They think it’s too time-consuming and too expensive. Yes, you can easily spend endless hours amongst social networks and you can spend a great deal of money having someone develop the most stellar campaigns, graphics and video. However, it is possible, after learning the ropes and understanding your customers’ wants and needs, to streamline a great deal. For example, TweetDeck is a desktop app that lets you stream updates to several accounts, including Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook and LinkedIn. While YouTube is the breeding ground for many new success stories, keep in mind that, for many companies and individuals, it’s a single video that skyrockets the brand.
So, besides those doing it for fun or charitable promotion, who’s actually behind the most active “professional” social media accounts? For the most part its companies using social media as a means of providing customer support (like @Comcastcares), PR and marketing companies (using the tools to gain a few new, big clients) and… other social media professionals trying to teach the masses how it all works. (I’ve conveniently left out the plethora of self-professed “experts”.)
In the world of small business eCommerce, many companies are self-supported, meaning they’re doing a great number of things on their own. More often than not, they hire developers and marketers to do one-time tasks (or provide brief training), carrying much of the workload themselves. Social media marketing, however, is rarely on the to-do list. Eventually that will change as more recognize that people rely on social networks (primarily via word-of-mouth) as much as they do search engines.
In Social Media Era, Nine Techniques to Increase Conversion Rates (Practical eCommerce)