E-commerce is no longer a purely transactional online process. In recent years online communities and user interaction have had influential effects on the online retail landscape. The success of an E-commerce business rests not only on what products are offered to customers, but on how these products are offered to customers.
As online communities grow on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg; consumers are able to boost or destroy a business’s reputation with a simple mouse click. Leveraging the business development potential which social media platforms provide can help online retailers to improve their business performance and reach more customers. Online businesses can now communicate directly with their target customers, and share information when it matters most. Rather than promoting to a faceless world wide web, incorporating social media into E-commerce results in interaction with and promotion to real consumers.
Three of the most prominent companies that have incorporated social media elements into their business development strategy are Amazon, Dell and Apple (iTunes).
Amazon and Twitter
During the latter part of 2009, Amazon unveiled the social media element of their popular Amazon Associates programmes – Share on Twitter. By integrating user influenced content such as shareable links, Amazon has further strengthened the business development potential of Amazon Associates. Associates can link product pages directly to their individual Twitter accounts and generate higher levels of referral fees by encouraging their “followers” to click on the links.
This innovative strategy not only increases the exposure of Amazon’s products to a mass audience, it also increases the earning potential of the Amazon Associates, meeting the company’s own business development needs and financially rewarding those individuals who promote the products through information sharing.
Dell and Blogging
Dell has spent that last decade building up a strong online presence for their Conversations and Communities team. In 2007 Dell launched IdeaStorm, a direct-to-consumer blogging community. IdeaStorm provides Dell’s consumers with a “voice” encourage mutual collaboration and idea sharing between users and the company’s product decision makers.
To date the IdeaStorm community has generated over 10,000 ideas, and 400 have actual been implemented by Dell. By encouraging direct interaction with the target customers – finding out what they want and expect from the company – Dell has turned its fortunes around. Exchanging information in such a way encourages immediate brand loyalty and long term consumer support.
Apple and YouTube
Apple has recently launched a collaboration deal with Google to promote the purchase of iTunes content via linkage from YouTube videos. YouTube viewers can purchase iTunes songs and videos by clicking links from relevant YouTube pages. This means that content is instantly accessible to target consumers as and when they want it.
The success of this venture is heavily dependent on the community and sharing aspects of YouTube content, users are able to share their favourite YouTube videos within their networks, increasing the chances of consumers clicking through to iTunes to buy the content.
There are a number of key lessons for online retailers to learn from these examples of social commerce. To run a successful venture business owners and managers can no longer shut out the impact of social media on E-commerce and instead need to embrace the potential offered by social commerce. buy youtube social shares