According to the most recently available statistics, Facebook has 901 million active monthly users, Twitter has over 140 million, and Pinterest has over 12 million. This means that most likely your customers are on there or will be very soon. Each of these social media platforms provide tremendous opportunity for e-commerce owners to strengthen their relationships with current customers, attract new ones, and to establish themselves as an authority in their desired market.

As social media continues to grow in popularity, it is important for online businesses to establish a strong social media presence . Below we’ll go over some basic guidelines on how to use the top three social media platforms ( Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) to effectively help you grow your business.

Twitter

Twitter is a website which allows a user to post or “tweet” small 140 characters or less text-only messages to their followers. Through Twitter, an e-commerce merchant can reach thousands of eyes in a matter of seconds from anywhere in the world.

On Twitter, the two main aspects a merchant should focus on are:

1. Customer communication

Twitter is a two-way stream of communication between the merchant and customer. Through this, a strong relationship can be bolstered between the two, encouraging further business in the future. Customers may have questions or complaints about products, the merchant can then provide assistance. Likewise, a customer may be extremely satisfied with a purchase and enthusiastically tweet about it . Which can then be re-tweeted by the merchant to display customer satisfaction. This cause a viral effect and gets your brand in front of that customers friends on twitter.

2. Promotion

The second aspect being promotion. Where there’s eyes, there’s sales to be made.

Tweets can be used to post:

– Links to pictures of new or upcoming products
– Sales, discounts, or promotions
– Questions to the customer
– Free stuff
– Quotes
– Interesting or funny things

Ultimately a merchant on Twitter should aim to keep customers informed and to build a positive brand image.

Twitter tips:

1. Tweet multiple times a day. You never know when your customers will be looking at their news feed. Mornings are the best time to tweet and weekends work great as well. Great goal is to tweet three times a day.

2. Use Twitter search (twitter.com/search) with your company name to see if anyone is talking about your company or products. You can also use twitter search to find people talking about problems that you may have a solution for.

3. Try to engage with people. The more you engage the more viral your exposure. It also creates a more transparent feel for your company which customers appreciate. Try to keep your tweets balanced by not being business all the time. Connecting on a personal level, giving advice, and even humor can sometimes go further than just being about business all the time.

4. Post interesting industry related content. If you have partners and affiliates twitter is a great way to keep those relationships strong by tweeting and re-tweeting their content.

5. Learn how to use hashtags to get exposure on topics within your industry.

6. Use the background image to its full advantage to get your name and brand across.

7. Give your twitter followers exclusive deals and discounts.

Facebook

After creating a Facebook page for your business, you can immediately begin to guide customers toward it. The easiest methods being to link to your Facebook page from your website or sales page, through email, through twitter, or linking towards it on your order confirmation page. When making your page take advantage of the new Facebook timeline header. Though no promotion language or offers can be displayed there, you can still use great visual pleasing graphics to showcase your brand. The new layout is great for displaying new pages in the app boxes area. There you can make special offer pages, pinterest pages, special contest pages, even pages to showcase special products. When your page is up and running and you’ve established a customer base, it’s now time to start posting.

– Post discounts or promotions on Facebook regularly
– Encourage customers to “like” or “share” posts
– Post pictures of products or upcoming products
– Ask customers questions. Try to start discussions in the comments section

Post regularly enough to stay relevant to the customer but not so frequently that they become irritated or begin to consider your posts spam.

Facebook Tips:

1. Since Facebook is heavy on multimedia, users tend to gravitate more to visual content. So try to include video and/or images for most of your posts.

2. Facebook users are there more for social than for business. With that in mind you don’t want to post as frequently as you do on twitter. A Post once or twice a day is sufficient, any more could cause fans to unfriend you.

3. Offer specials and coupons exclusive to your Facebook fans.

5. Post all news, events, spotlight employee, share milestones anything to help build your brands transparency.

6. The web is going social and reviews are a big component. Encouraging fans to share their shopping experiences with reviews on your wall which will help virally build your brand and store.

7. Hold giveaways and contest. It’s a great idea to also ask the winners to post photos on your wall when they receive the winnings this will help build credibility with the giveaways and will get more people to enter them.

8. Like twitter Facebook communication should mix in a personal feel. Try not to talk in the third person and be all about business all the time. Ask questions, comment on things and share fun interesting information.

9. Try Facebook ads. Facebook ads can be an effective way to build new “likes” or to send traffic to your website. Their ad platform has great demographic targeting where you can target by age groups, interests, relationship status, education completed, and even target specific pages for example if you sold bikes you could specify to only show your ads to fans of a page about bike lovers.

10. Keep you page fresh. Updating your header image or profile image every once in awhile shows that you care about keeping your brand fresh and is just another way to stay in front
of your fans so they can “like” and share you with their friends.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a virtual pin board. It allows you to post, organize, and share pictures on any topic you want. Viewers can then like or repin what you’ve posted onto one of their own boards.
As a tool for e-commerce, Pinterest is very effective. To get started, create your own Pinterest profile. You can then begin to create boards and post your own pictures. Others can linkback to your product by repinning it which drives traffic to your product. Additionally, you can provide a link to the product when you pin a picture.
Through people commenting on your pins, a community can be developed around your products.

Pinterest Tips:

1. Use high quality photographs – using lifestyle photos with your products being used is a great strategy to make your photos stand out more. The higher the quality and the more unique increases the chances for re-pining by other users.

2. Mix it up by Pinning Videos of your products as well as photos.

3. Embrace the community. Pinterest is social media site so some interaction should occur. If you have partners or material that is related to your industry but not a direct competitor, you could repin their content and engage with follows and comments.

4. Don’t make your pinterest just about your business. Set up different boards to illustrate your company on a personal level.

5. Be sure to add a “Pin It” button to all your item pages. This way your customers or visitors can pin items they like on their boards.

6. Keep updating or pinning new products regularly. Your customers on Pinterest want to see new products from you and want to pin and like them. And when they like they they are creating viral exposure for your products.

With social media continuing to grow at astronomical rates and with search engines beginning to lean toward social for signals on how to rank pages, it’s more important than ever to start building you social media presence and to make more sales by taking advantage of the free exposure.

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