Articles in the Social Media Marketing & Strategy Category

July 17 2012

Facebook Commerce’s Influence on Consumer Purchases

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Facebook continues to attract businesses that desire a better understanding of the effectiveness and potential influence social commerce has upon their consumers.   Some larger brands, like JC Penny, have tried e-commerce within Facebook and claimed to have not realized expected results from e-commerce efforts.  There are new brands, like Fab.com, that adhere to a business model dependant upon the integration with social networks, and have been very successful with marketing on Facebook.   So how can small and larger brands differ in their success rate?  Strategies that drive F-commerce have to be different from normal e-commerce methods in order to provide a return on investment.  F-commerce focuses on utilizing the data from customer’s interests, enhancing fan activity, and social sharing with friends on Facebook, in order to improve online sales.

F-Commerce Referrals. The strategy that has been effective for larger brands, uses Facebook to drive traffic to their online store.  These brands have found it more successful to offer links to e-commerce sites via posts, advertising, and custom tabs because their websites are proven to be better at converting the sale.

F-Commerce Stores. The smaller businesses have seen promising results by building their store directly within Facebook.  This type of store is successful in integrating the sharing aspect into all segments of a Facebook fan’s shopping experience.  This strategy allows fans of the company’s Facebook Page to share items they are interested in buying with friends as well as sharing items they have purchased from the store.  The social commerce is paramount in exposure of the company’s product selections and existence of the store on Facebook.  This type of store can also be driving traffic to an e-commerce website to complete the sale.

F-Commerce Focus Groups. There are some companies who utilize the social aspect of the network by conducting exclusive product launches to their Facebook Page’s fans.  This strategy gives fans the opportunity to request free samples of the new product, share the product announcement with friends, and participate in the campaign by uploading a photo or video using the product.  The company benefits by requiring fans to first “like” the Facebook Page and submit information, like an e-mail address, before they may request a sample.  This also builds up a demand for the new product pre-launch and gives the company the ability to monitor feedback about the product while supplying the consumer with links to purchase that item from an online store.

The Apps designed to help businesses market themselves are what drive this f-commerce strategy.  Facebook released Timeline to business Pages along with the social graph API in order to better develop the relationship from socializing about a product to purchasing it.  When companies begin to leverage their use of the “like” button, activity feed, integrated registrations, and sharing they will benefit from the success that lies in social media marketing.

July 16 2012

How to Respond to Unhappy Customers on Social Media

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If you have a company profile page on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, or LinkedIn, you’ve taken a step in the right direction by leading the conversation about your brand and engaging with your customers. But what do you do when some of those customers don’t want to play nice? While your first instinct might be to block a customer who writes a negative comment—or worse, write them a huffy response with a few choice words of your own, we’d encourage you to stop for a moment and step away from the keyboard. Although blocking them or retaliating may make you feel better short-term, long-term, you just lost a customer—and you did it in front of your audience. So before you let it all out, take all the information in and read on to find out how you can turn a negative situation into a positive one that will increase your customer’s loyalty to your brand.

Be Prepared
Has the perfect comeback ever come to you about three hours after you actually needed it? We know the feeling. No one likes being caught off-guard, especially when it comes to confrontation. That’s why we advise companies to plan ahead. Based on your industry, think of five to 10 of the most common issues customers might complain about, such as the amount of time a service takes to be completed. You may even want to ask other team members who work with customers on a daily basis to weigh in on complaints that they hear. From there, write a response to each of the criticisms that addresses the concern in a professional manner and offers a next step or plan of action to resolve the problem. Be very cautious about offering free services, products or discounts in your public responses to an unhappy customer, as it may invite unwarranted complaints from other customers just looking for something for free. And you don’t want to be giving out complementary dinners to everyone just because they say their soda was flat the last time they ate at your restaurant.

Respond in a Timely Manner
There is nothing more embarrassing then a negative comment left up on a company’s profile page for days, with no response. Not only does that make it appear like the company doesn’t care about its customers’ concerns, it also may lead a potential customer to believe that the negative statement is valid, and it may not be. In addition, if an outdated negative comment is the first thing a potential customer sees when looking at your company profile page, they might be discouraged from using your services or products in the first place. If possible, a response time of less than 24 hours is ideal, which means that someone must regularly monitor your social media platforms for new activity. On the same token, don’t limit your responses to negative comments only. Reward the positive comments by “Liking” them or responding with a positive comment of your own. Sometimes simply thanking them for their business in response will suffice.

Handle Public Grievances Privately
When someone airs their grievances on a public platform, such as Facebook or Twitter, it’s good to respond to their post or comment once publically so that customers can see that your company did address the issue and try to resolve it. In your response, always give the customer a phone number or email where they can reach someone on your team who can discuss their issues and concerns with them further to reach a resolution. Don’t try to hash it out in back and forth posts on your profile page, always take it behind the scenes after your initial public response. If you’ve responded to the unhappy customer and they still proceed to post negative comments regularly or they use inappropriate language, then you can delete the comments or take it to the next level and block them as a user with a clear conscious.

The most important message to convey with your responses to negative feedback on social media is that your brand handles conflict professionally, addresses the actual problem, tries to resolve it, and is still the best choice for that particular product or service at the end of the day.

June 28 2012

Take Your Social Media Relationships to the Next Level

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There comes a time in every relationship when you have to ask yourself the defining question: “Where is this going?” The same is true when you’re trying to turn Facebook “Likes,” LinkedIn “Connections” and Twitter “Follows” into concrete sales. While you already know the user “Likes” you, what you really want to know is if they’re going to buy what you’re selling. Here are four ways to turn Social Media connections into real-life customers … without getting stuck in the dreaded “Friend” zone.

Brand Your Platforms
Whether you’re on one Social Media platform or eight, it’s important to utilize the opportunity to brand every company profile page with your own signature look/feel. On Facebook, you can upload your company logo as the profile picture or design a custom banner advertising your company’s services for the cover photo. If you’re on Twitter, you can take things a step further and design a “skin” that will then become the background of your Twitter page. While customization options are limited to the functionality capabilities of each Social Media platform, there are still many great ways you can set your page apart from the competition, and point potential customers to your brand.

Balance Self-Promotion with Audience Relevancy

If you’re using Social Media as a marketing tool, you already know the advantages it carries for self-promotion. But if you’re hitting current or potential customers with promotion after promotion, it’s going to come across loud and clear that you have an agenda—and it’s not the same as theirs. Be selective with what you share and make sure it’s relevant to the end-user. “Pin” a great recipe on Pinterest for a party dip, and include your company’s salsa as the main ingredient. Host a “Hangout” on Google+ where you show viewers “How to Make 10 Different Outfits From the Same Five Core Pieces,” all sold at your clothing boutique. The key is to use Social Media as a way to engage with the end-user, not to send them content that’s the equivalent of a print mail piece addressed to “Current Resident.” Get to know them and, in turn, they’ll want to know more about you—and the services your company can provide.

Don’t Stand Them Up
Once you have a captivated audience, pat yourself on the back, but don’t leave them hanging. If you do, they’ll just leave—period. If you suddenly stop posting Tweets on your stock broking company’s Twitter page and potential customers were following you for investment insights, they’ll bring their business elsewhere when they decide to buy. Social Media engagement isn’t a destination, it’s an ongoing activity. So once you achieve your Social Media goal of hitting a certain amount of viewers on your YouTube channel or “Likes” for your Facebook page, don’t rush out to buy a bottle of bubbly (unless you’re going to share). You’ve still got work to do.

Include a Call to Action
Although you don’t want to include “Call Us Today” verbiage in all your posts, you do want to display contact information prominently on your Social Media pages. If I’m watching a video on your yoga studio’s YouTube channel about how to properly execute that tricky “Crow” move and I decide I want to try it out at your studio next Saturday, I’m going to look around that page for contact information. If I can’t find any, I’m probably going to lose interest and move on. And while I may go on to become the best Crow I can be, you just lost a sale that you had in the bag. For maximum ROI, use your Social Media pages to get their attention, keep it and then direct them to the right place to seal the deal.

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