Social networking is somewhat controversial in the ecommerce world. On one hand, it is a great way to bring in customers and promote your ecommerce website. On the other hand, it can be a huge time sink, one that does not really pay off for many businesses. This is a personal matter that depends on your audience and your general market, so you ultimately have to decide if social networking is worth your time. Here are a few things to look at when evaluating the situation.
- Number of fans. This is an obvious factor, but one that many ecommerce website owners ignore. If someone is not motivated to click ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’, they probably will not be motivated to become a customer. Fans are by definition engaged with your brand via social networking, so a dearth of them indicates that this media is simply not reaching them. If you are spending a half-hour every day managing a social network with fifty fans, you may need to think hard about time priorities.
- Amount of interaction. Not only is it important to evaluate your number of fans, you should also keep tabs on how much these fans interact with your pages. A fan that clicks ‘Like’ and never returns is not the same as one who is actively viewing and sharing content. A small but highly engaged customer base is more valuable than a large and indifferent one. Therefore, the level of interaction and brand engagement should be a big part of how you evaluate your ecommerce website.
- Traffic. Even if you have few fans or relatively inactive ones, your social media campaign may be reaching a large amount of people if it has a lot of views or traffic. Quality beats quantity, but this does not mean that quantity is useless altogether. If your social networking pages are being viewed but your fan base remains low, this can mean that your social media strategy needs to be rethought. Obviously fans are interested in your page, but something is stopping them from taking the next step.
- Leads and Profit. Sometimes a social networking website seems dead, but when evaluated it is found that it is driving a large number of leads and sales to the website. This is definitely something to consider. After all, sales are ultimately the point of your marketing efforts; a social networking campaign that produces them is a success even if other aspects (such as number of fans) seem lacking. You might be surprised; Dell, for example, found that they make $1 million per year on leads from Twitter alone.
- SEO. Social media websites that link to your ecommerce website can help to increase your search engine optimization. This is not the main purpose of social networking, but it is certainly a nice side benefit. Even if you don’t feel that your social media campaign is bringing in fans, it may be worth it to maintain a minimal amount of social networking just to bump your site up in search engine results.