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A few months ago I decided to start a new online venture that involves local businesses and of course the expert (me). There are some particularities in the project that would require me to print out letters and images and since we live in a paperless world, I had to purchase a printer. I thought that would be the easy part, as it turns out I was very wrong… but before I go deeper with this story, I’ve got some cool numbers for you!
U.S. consumers spent over 1.25 BILLION dollars in one single day; the Cyber Monday – November 18, 2011 (ComScore). How much of it went to your pocket? If you’re an internet marketer or an owner of an offline business you certainly took advantage of this shopping spree… or did you?
We all hear about the bad economy yet U.S. online shoppers spent 22% more in 2011 than in 2010 and this simply means that more and more people shop online. In fact Lab42’s survey showed us that 49% of people did their shopping in stores, 43% online and 8% opted for catalogs and other methods. Almost half of U.S. shoppers left their money online – and this number is growing!
1. Be Social
8 out of 10 consumers receive advice about a product through the social networks. You need to have people talking about your brand on Facebook, Twitter and the others. Your potential clients expect to see your promotions while browsing social networking sites, they also want to “LIKE” and “RETWEET” your promotions. Back in the day it was simply called “Social Proof”.
2. Get Reviewed
77% of online shoppers use reviews before making a buying decision. They will search what others are saying about you on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. If you have a social presence online – you will know who the major reviewers are and you will be able to help them review your products/services. Do a simple Google search for your product/service/company name – chances are you are already getting reviewed by your customers. Find those bloggers, give them free samples of your product and get more reviews.
3. Be Creative
Over 72% of online shoppers get the gift ideas from Facebook. If they visit your Facebook page (assuming you have one) will they find a clever gift idea? Even if you do not offer a product or a service that would classify as a “gift” – you can still make your clients appreciate your effort if you post “10 incredibly romantic gift ideas” right before St-Valentine’s. This simply shows that you care about your customers and that you truly enjoy being social.
4. Go Viral
The best way to get lots of people interested in your brand is going viral. Calm down now, you do not need 47 million views on your YouTube video in order to go viral, it can be done on a much smaller scale yet very effectively. You can offer a free product, or a gift card, or some other cool prize to the person who tweets (or posts on their Facebook wall) the coolest thing about your company. I can assure you the phrase “XYZ is so awesome, they are giving me a free iPad just for tweeting this” will get a lot of attention a lot of buzz! You can require the participants to “Like” your Facebook page, or Re-Tweet a message or do something else in order to participate – there are even free services that will automate this for you. I personally used it a few times and it works wonders!
5. Be Active
People don’t like spam but they will forget about you if you aren’t active enough. Share pictures, videos, promotions, cool facts and funny stories. Let your customers associate you with positive things. Better yet, let your customers participate. I must admit I do not post as often as I should on all of my social profiles simple because I have too many websites and some of them are being left out. I actually see the effects of this “inactivity”; the less active I am – the less active the users are. Don’t let them forget you exist!
6. Be Proud
A few weeks ago I had a chat with a local business owner here in Montreal; he was trying to convince me that social networking is bad for business because when you create online accounts you expose yourself to negative comments, critiques and bad reviews. This is true. Another truth is that a business owner who is proud of what he offers would never think that way. If what you sell is great and your service is of high quality – you will get positive feedback from your consumers. And even is there are a few unsatisfied clients, I am sure you would be more than happy to hear from them and make it right. We are in business because we want to help people solve their problems. Are You Proud of your business?
7. Be Real
Auto-posting to Facebook decreases likes and comments by 70% (InsideFacebook). In the past few years I have read many Marketing Books including the classics from Dan Kennedy and Joseph Sugarman and they all claim that customers can smell bullsh*t from a mile away. If you run a small company or if you are the only one running your business – take some time to produce a little bit of authentic content for your fans and followers. If you are running a bigger business and really don’t have any time for social networking – hire someone who can do it for you (hint; your IT guy is great at deleting a virus and installing the new printer, however he probably isn’t a social marketing specialist). Don’t take the whole “social thing” lightly – it is worth the extra money, effort and time.
… I wrote the blog post mostly because of that printer I talked about in the beginning of the article. I knew nothing about printers prior to buying one. When I decided on functions I needed in a printer I’ve read through at least 5 review blogs, I tweeted 3 questions about some printers and got dozens of responses, I became a fan of a printer manufacturer and 2 online stores on Facebook and only then I made my purchasing decision. I bought an HP color printer through NewEgg; free shipping and it was delivered within 24 hours!
Only a few days after I started using the paper-eating machine I realized the incredibly HUGE role the Social Marketing played in my purchasing decision. Marketers, business owners – get social and don’t forget to let me know you questions and opinions on this subject.