Is online shop ready for social networking sites?

Small online shops are more careful with social networks as opposed to bigger shops. Small social media promotion budgets do not allow running large-scale campaigns as there is a more important goal: to attract more visitors to the site ensuring day-to-day sales. 

Despite all these factors even small online shops that have just appeared consider using social media for marketing. There was a significant growth in online shops owners turning to SMM agencies in 2012. Most of SMM commercial offers are not answered (about 80%). Certainly, it is impossible to please everyone. Someone is not OK with the cost of SMM services, someone prefers hiring freelancers, and someone will eventually saddle these responsibilities of the SMM-campaign on sales managers. Not a single agency is able to control all these factors to successfully sign agreements with all types of customers. However, there is a reason why everything doesn’t go smoothly between online shops, social networks and agencies. Potential client is absolutely not prepared for marketing through social media. The owners of small online shops hardly understand what they are going to deal with. The most common cause of frustration: a social network is not a counter or handout. The checklist has a simple scoring system. The higher the final result is, the better online store is prepared for promotion in social networks. By saying social networks we mean exactly social networking websites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but not forums, blogs, or microblogs, which can also be used for SMM promotion. All questions are grouped into several blocks. 

My Market

Comment We give the same number of points for both Yes and No answers. The point is not whether your competitors have pages in social networks. It’s not an indicator of social networks promotion potential. Awareness of your competitors being presented in social networking sites indicates that you are up-to-date with a situation, informed about your competitors in social networks. Uncertainty and surface knowledge give zero points. Lack of information is the indicator of unpreparedness and lack of serious interest in networks. Comment It’s really good when a customer believes in agency expertise and trusts their opinion. However, complete absence of own pointview at the very beginning of cooperation may sometimes turn into misunderstanding in the future. Agency offers its own point of view on benefits of social media marketing for small business and ignorant client suddenly demonstrates intransigence and his own opinion on everything. Such cases are very common. That is why we give zero points for “You explain me why”. Comment Tracking the competitors’ positions and activities in social networks is a deep professional approach which is not typical of majority of online shops. Few people get more than 1 point. Comment Many of us do not realize how deeply we are in “surviving”. In business literature and articles companies are often being suggested that they desperately “struggle for surviving”. Making a profit – you can say it! – existing is more and more difficult year by year. This hysterical line is propagated as something normal. In fact, those who calmly, steadily and insistently work on all fronts win, but not those who try to just survive. Online shops that “live on a shoestring” and fell uncertain about future will never be able to operate efficiently in social networks. Social networking sites is a field one works with the longer term plans, fervently and what is the most important- with pleasure. To succeed you need not only a big budget but also time and confidence in the future. This isn’t a place to survive.

Audience

If your audience is presented in one of the social networks, it’s not a weakness. That is why we give you 1 point for each of the first two variants. The main point is that a client knows the preferences of his audience. We purposely gave -1 for “Search and buy goods” and zero points for not knowing. For those who are not experts the lack of knowing is not awful if they are opened for new information. But the belief that the audience comes to social networks mostly to read somebody’s advertisements and search goods to buy puts an end to productive work. We give zero points for the last variant as well as for the “Do not know”. People who use social sites are OK with reading news and ads but only in minimal quantity.

My goods

By saying ideas we mean all useful and interesting information that stimulates users to choose a product. Direct and aggressive goods advertisement is non-productive for social media. To define the ideas means to figure out what information and what services in social networking sites may help a client to opt for an online store. Community appears when clients are ready to discuss the products and services, when they regularly have questions about the products, when they share opinion and leave reviews. Study the forums. Some product categories are full of discussion threads. Among popular ones are cars, appliances, tours, beauty products and products for children. These goods always get permanent communities. Certain categories of goods are not suitable for creating a sustainable community: bridal wear and accessories, vinyl windows, medicines. Social sites exist thanks to the content. The lack of content will not allow to form the community. On the other hand, when a company is ready to create its own content and fill the information gap, then 0 points are easily converted into 5. The marketing rule works – give people what they need and what they lack.

The organization of work in social networks

This question is addressed to the person who is responsible for accepting decisions about online store. The attitude of this person to social networks depends how long and successfully the project will exist. Some managers are not able to see the difference between themselves and their audience. If they personally are not interested in social sites, then the company’s clients have no chance. Such bosses get -1 point. Social sites as well as SEO are constant work for months and years. It’s impossible to achieve the goals over one night – to expand the customer base and increase sales through networks in 2-3 months. Most of the SMM team customers hope to “bob off” the work in social networks to an agency and forget about this “trifles” until the report time. Employees of the online store sometimes are not even aware of the existence of their community, not to mention the participation in it.   There is no point in seeking for team of experts and then treat them as charlatans. Ignoring recommendations, disputes, regular attempts to “catch” and “bring to light”, persistent doubts about the competence – a dead end road. It is better to refuse the idea at all then. Consider, that you at least need to pay a specialist. The maintenance and promotion of communities, selection and content creation – those are daily work hours. We consider it is possible to start social media marketing campaign with a budget of 350-500 dollars per month, but the possibilities with such budget will remain minimal. For example, you will not be able to afford such activities as:

  • Advertising campaign;
  • Creating your own content;
  • Buying posts in popular groups;
  • Contests with valuable prizes;
  • Making posts on a daily basis.

If a company scored less than 6 point, it is not ready for social networking sites. Most likely, the relationship with the agency will not work out as they expected and the project will die in 2-3 months. With 15 points and above you can be very successful.

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