4 Social Networking Sites You Need to Participate In

There is no doubt that online social networking has exploded into incredible levels of popularity in the past few years. In fact, social networking is more popular than email, and preferred over email. Almost seventy percent of recent Internet users report having visited a social networking site at least once in the past year. With these extraordinary numbers, there comes many different ways to monetize social networking.

Facebook and Twitter, currently two of the most popular social networking sites out there, are allowing people to connect with others they will probably never meet in person. Facebook, in particular, is very popular among upper-middle class individuals and is fast-growing among the 35 and up crowd. Twitter is growing in leaps and bounds every day.

While MySpace was originally the flagship social networking site for a few years, it has now been mainly relegated to teens and urban dwellers, rather than businesses hoping to make a living on it. The benefit of MySpace is mostly its heavy HTML orientation, allowing users to customize their pages relatively easily.

Facebook, in contrast, has a cleaner, starker layout that leans heavily toward updating one’s status and reading everyone else’ status updates. It is a terrific social networking tool for sharing links and photos. Some believe that Facebook is too “invasive” in terms of privacy, but the great thing about Facebook is its ability to customize settings to block certain information to network “friends.” Others use Facebook strictly for business purposes, collecting “friends” that share the same business or interests.

LinkedIn is another fantastic social network site that is growing every day. It’s like having your business card and resume out there for the world to see and to network with people that are in your particular business or service industry. LinkedIn is also geared heavily toward upper income individuals and professionals (in contrast to the more “social” MySpace). It is a good website to advertise one’s business and showcase a professional image.

Twitter is the newest social networking tool right now, and it shows tremendous promise for its ability to market to a specific group and for affiliate marketers to make huge profits. It’s very simple to use, fun, requires very little software knowledge (in contrast to MySpace), and can reach a wide or targeted audience at will. The best feature of Twitter is the easy, quick, ability to throw out links to one’s webpage.

Social Commerce – The Growing Trend of Social Media Shopping

In social commerce, the target audience is already pinpointed and specific products and services can directly be marketed to said audience by means of various sites. For instance, a specific fan site would be interested in one product alone and that is anything that has to do with the fandom they are affiliated with. Through social e-commerce, brands and businesses are given an opportunity to create or perhaps sell already existing products to that specific fandom. The task of gathering a target audience and getting them all to land in one online seller webpage is thereby eliminated. The social media website becomes the main selling site. It is basically social shopping made easy.

Among the more popular social commerce platforms today is Facebook commerce. Almost everyone on the planet has a Facebook account. Within Facebook, there are fan pages designed to represent public figures, brands, organizations, and basically everything else that exists which is not a “personal account”. Fans and supporters become members of these fan pages and within that simple page, they are presented with sub pages that relate to the fandom they support. These pages contain social shopping features. Whether it’s an artist that sells the next single or a production studio that is selling the latest film video, Facebook commerce delivers an avenue for the sellers to meet the buyers.

A lot of sales and revenue have been generated by brands and businesses taking part in social media commerce. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites on the Internet has made shopping quite easy for the registered members. They have built-in credit verification and payment systems that allow users to purchase whatever the website has to offer. It becomes very simple for the consumers. They simply log on to their Facebook accounts and if they find something they fancy, they can easily purchase it right then and there. This has definitely added much to a company’s income. Social commerce is truly one point of sale that is worthy of investment.

There are many ways to enhance a brand’s presence in social media websites. However, there are resources out there which can help a business in pursuing the best road towards a successful social commerce. Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of today’s popular social media websites are not showing any signs of decline when it comes to mass patronage. Surely, more and more people with more and more buying power will become members of the websites. And these members will not hesitate in clicking away on Ads and other shopping features that are very accessible within their own social account pages. It has been alleged that by the year 2015, the business of social media shopping will have skyrocketed to an astounding USD 15 billion value. This is why businesses have taken steps towards participating in social commerce marketing.

Social Commerce – Is It the Next Big Thing?

Earlier this week, the world’s largest retailer Amazon tied-up with the most popular social-networking and microblogging site Twitter to enable customers to shop through Twitter. Once you sync up your Twitter and Amazon accounts, you will be able to see any tweet with links to Amazon products. You can then order it right away by replying to that tweet with a pre-determined hashtag #AmazonCart.

The earlier experiments combining social media and ecommerce for shopping did not see much of a success. Even analysts view social media as more of an awareness platform than for shopping. From a business perspective too, APIs like Facebook Commerce are more about giving the businesses information about their buyers such as their likes and dislikes etc.

Will this pioneering step from Amazon be a success? Well, we’ll have to wait and watch.

Current Experiments
There most common social integration strategy is where a merchant may prompt you to share your purchase on social media so that it can possibly motivate someone from your network to buy the same. Another instance is where you will be able to see a list of product recommendations which you may end up buying. Group buying and sharing information about new deals etc. are also a part of social commerce techniques. While all these utilize social media to an extent, none of them have ventured into enabling buying through a social networking platform until Amazon stepped in.

Major retailers are already on their social way and embedded their own social e-commerce tools directly into their websites. A good example of this would be the fashion retailer ASOS which has a social media forum where their customers can discuss about the latest trends in fashion. And, they have seen upward movement in their sales numbers too owing to these discussions.

Some of the most innovative use of social media we have seen is conducting live events like product launches online and enabling customers to talk among themselves and with the company through a social platform. This level of engagement is a sure win for the organization and can create the maximum buzz and brand recall.

Should you go social?
Yes, yes and yes! As we have been saying always, inclusion of a social strategy in your e-business is the right way to go about and will augment your marketing and sales strategies in many ways. It will be especially useful for engaging with your customers and more importantly improving your brand awareness through wider traffic to your site. However, having said that, it is too early to implement on a “social buying” system. It will be good to wait until a commercially viable platform comes up based on the success of the present experiments.

Do let us know if you’ve seen some innovative use of social media by businesses. We’d love to hear from you!