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by Ali Moghadam on 18th February 2014
Many online businesses feel Social Media is this big enigma that needs to be cracked, that there’s some kind of secret to it. The truth is; Social Media is just loads of people on the same platform. But why on Earth would anybody actually want to follow or like a business page?
Well I recently had an idea on Twitter for ecommerce sites that puts everything in perspective.
It’s not really a difficult question to answer. Human beings, for all our complexity and mystique, boil down to a set of rules and values in almost any situation. In the Twitter situation, people follow something or someone because it gives them something – entertainment or news or fast and free communication with friends.
I often see “please like our Facebook page!” or “Follow us on Twitter!” plastered on website banners, on the side of vans driving down the street and on shop windows. And all I can think is: why? People don’t just arbitrarily follow things because you tell them to. You’ve got to give something back. All relationships work on give and take – including the ones with customers.
So, here’s my idea. If you’ve got an online shop, you’re naturally going to be selling stuff that people want. But the problem is, you’re not the only one. Getting found via search doesn’t necessarily mean a guaranteed purchase – some people like to shop around.
Ah, but what if you make them an offer they can’t refuse?
All you’d need to do is make yourself a new page header or banner with some nifty stuff in it! I’ve mocked up the example below, using a fake retro sock and shoe shop called TwoFeet. This post is focused on Twitter followers – but, because you can technically do this with Facebook page likes too, I’ve included it in the mock up:
Note a couple of things: firstly, my INCREDIBLE design skills (I drew that sock on MS Paint freehand, believe it! And who doesn’t like rainbow text?! Richard of York, probably…). Secondly, the big, colourful “10% OFF!” under the social buttons. Obviously, use a layout and design that fits (I went with a lo-fi, 8bit feel for my throwback shoe website) but make it a prominent feature and promote it where necessary.
To be extra helpful, TwoFeet could apply the code to the user’s basket automatically if their ecommerce platform allowed it. And it doesn’t have to end here. Once the customer has finished, you can give the option to share their purchase via tweet or Facebook status update – and receive a free gift or code for their next purchase! That’s how you get a first time customer to love you, tell all their friends just how much they love you – and then come back for more another day. There are no losers!
You’ll notice that TwoFeet has an email signup option for the less social among us. The worst thing you could do is alienate your audience because they’re not on a particular platform. But if they are shopping online, they must have an email address – so give all email signups a discount code too! Nobody gets left out and you always capture that second chance to win them back – via social or email.
Make it more tempting to use all your platforms by letting the user get a code for each – you can limit the number of vouchers per transaction to one, but let them keep a hold of the code for their next visit – or better yet (and more on this later) share it via a social media channel with a friend.
Keep sharing, but stay close to what you do. Be human, talk to your fans and remember to say thank you! Keep giving them a reason to follow you. TwoFeet is most likely going to be a place for shoe lovers, so their social content is largely going to consist of awesome shoes. Fashion blogs, photographs and promoting their own stock would serve well in this situation.
You can keep your audience entertained and enlightened with this stuff. Don’t overwhelm, overshare or alienate – that’s more likely to get you unfollowed! If your audience would like it, then share it. If it’s purely a self–serving promotional tweet or post, people will see right through it. So try to limit those things if you can – but if you’ve got any more offers, then share away with a link to the deal and a photo of the product.
The ecommerce playing field is by no means level. A small token gesture means a new fan and a sale you otherwise might not have got. That then gets shared. Every new customer gets the same opportunity. Twitter followers grow, Facebook fans grow, your customer base grows – you get a name for great service, great deals and forever open yourself to new customers with every like, follow and email sign up. That’s the value for your business.
Getting those customers to make their first purchase from you is a huge battle – but once you’ve got them on board, they could potentially be a customer for life. Think about what makes customers return to the same places over and over again – customer experience, price and convenience will lead.
If you can give them that great initial experience, an offer they can’t refuse AND make it convenient for them to come back, then you’re making things a whole bunch easier.
The knock on effect of all this social activity and buzz is the healthy growth of natural links and social signals, pushing your site’s search engine visibility.
To keep the social media fire alive, you can use Twitter to make the act of giving fun and easy. Remember when @tweetacoffee launched? It’s a simple idea, but it’s amazingly effective. It only works in the US and Canada as a beta version right now, but there’s nothing stopping you and your site to adopt a similar promotion.
Users buy their friends or family a virtual gift card and tweet it to each other – but with a verification process to make sure the right user gets the gift card. This public giving is an appealing trait that people will want to display, strengthening your brand in the process.
For example, TwoFeet could let friends and family tweet socks to each other as a gift at Christmas – it’s the perfect campaign that combines two things that go hand in hand (Christmas and socks that is).
I think this is a great way for businesses to get their foot in the door with first time customers and to build lasting social media relationships with them. If you’ve got anything to add, please let us know in the comments below!
Ali is experienced in working with SEO and Social Media, helping businesses find their voice in competitive markets. He loves digital media and finding innovative uses for it, with a keen interest in how creativity on the internet can help shape success.