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Go Social, Get Sales

Does your webstore have a social strategy?

Twitter's not for the birds anymore. Facebook isn't just pics and pokes. And YouTube? So much more than cat videos. Here are some tips for tapping in to the true potential of social media — and using it to market your webstore.

Connect with customers.

Social media is constantly narrowing the gap between customer and company. Twitter is a great way for people to engage in conversation with brands — something that's never really been possible. Search for keywords related to your webstore and interact with people tweeting about you to gain more followers. Twitter is also a great venue for customer service. You can quickly answer questions and respond to mentions publicly. To really give your customers some insight, start a blog and post updates about what's going on behind the scenes. Be sure to keep an eye on your comments section, and use it as another avenue for communication.

Push your products.

Facebook is on the top of every marketing department's list. And for good reason: Exposure to over 600 million users. Set up a company page so your customers can "Like" your webstore, and offer small rewards or bonus content for a Like. Then use Facebook's built-in marketing and metric tools to learn more about who's interacting with your page. Regularly post photos of your products, and they'll pop up on the News Feeds of those you're connected with — just like little reminders. But pictures can't say it all. Use YouTube to show what a product looks like, how it works, or why it's different. The two hottest words in social media right now? Viral. Video. So make yours unique and entertaining, insightful and informative. Your goal is to get people more interested in what you're selling, and more inclined to tell others about your store.

Keep communicating.

From a social media standpoint, nothing's worse than a tweetless feed, an empty wall, or out-of-date videos. Having an active social presence means you can't have a set-and-forget mentality. And it takes more than just responding to what people are saying or asking about you. Yes, customer service and product promotion are great uses of social media. But new ideas and observations about your industry are just as valuable. People will be more inclined to interact with you and spread the word if they can tell you're involved and a provider of original content. So while you keep your current customers engaged, you'll get some new ones in the process.

Spread your social.

While Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are the "big three" in terms of traffic and active users, there are literally hundreds of other social media sites out there. Don't limit yourself to just one! If you have a brick-and-mortar store, consider using Foursquare for check-in rewards. Hiring? Create a company page on LinkedIn and announce your job postings. Be sure to connect your networks as well. So something you post on Twitter or your blog will pop up on your other profiles automatically. Most social sites have this functionality built right in. Also, include icons or links to all your social profiles on your webstore so your customers can easily connect with you.

Why are followers, friends, and Likes so important? It's true that a single connection doesn't always equal a sale. But every person you connect with in your social network has an entire network of their own. Each with a couple hundred connections — if not more. That's where the value is: Access to all of those networks. And then the networks of those people — and so on. See the potential? It's huge. So start using social media to market your webstore — and start discovering customers you never knew you had.

Social by the numbers
Minutes spent on Facebook per month: 700 billion
Videos viewed on YouTube per day: 2 billion
Twitter tweets per hour: 4 million
Percentage of baby boomers using social media: Nearly 50%
Fortune 500 companies with an active blog: 1 out of 4
Number of connections the average social media user has: 200
Percentage of companies marketing with social media: 82%