Social media no doubt continues to affect retailers and their day-to-day decisions. It is an important part of cross-channel marketing and brand awareness. And rightfully so! Facebook has more than 750 million users, 50% of which are active daily users. However, what is the value of a Facebook Like or Fan?
When a product is "Liked," the link and picture appears on your wall and a few people may comment on it (saying how they love it or hate it). It’s a good tool to allow customers to indicate what they like, but what monetary value is a Facebook Fan bringing your organization? Retailers could be monetizing this valuable information for e-commerce personalization. By understanding a customer's interests, individual profiles can become much deeper with this rich data set.
Twitter is another great social media outlet that lets consumers actively discuss products and brands. With 200 million users, it’s a great source of news and information (if you can filter through the fluff). Twitter will even help drive Search Engine Results while an item may be trending, a short lived but certainly beneficial result!
Both are active sources for communication with customers. While the goal is to have customers praise the products, many end up complaining or asking for help. Retailers need to have a plan in place to be in the conversation. If you are not responding quickly to these issues, it can escalate very quickly!
So that leaves me to the new Google +1 and its value add. To start, Google drives a significant amount of traffic to every online retailer’s websites. Big or small, we are all constantly in the fight for Search Engine Optimization rankings. Since Google controls the algorithms and rankings, how powerful will a Google +1 be on those results?
The advantage is that Google can change the search results. So if you have members in your circle who have +1’d the item, this is going to weight the rankings. The more people who +1 a site or product, the higher your site goes because of the contextual advertising. If three friends all bought new hats from Lids.com and all liked the products on Facebook, I may see that cross selling marketing. However, if those same friends in my circle +1'd the site, the next time I search for hats on Google, there is a strong chance that Lids.com will be ranked right at the top.
For retailers, my recommendation would be to bet on Google +1. Start considering how much traffic you are receiving from Facebook and then compare it to Google. Search Engine Optimization is going to drive you the money and Google +1 is going to play a huge part in the ranking. While it’s still in the infancy stages and will never take over the social piece of Facebook, Google +1 is going to play a dominate role in SEO.
The true value of each of these social mediums is still in the infancy stage. As organizations continue to evolve, so will the use of these communication media. Continue to test and analyze, because the beautiful thing about our industry is that everything is measurable.
While these are educated predictions, I would love to hear your thoughts on the future of social media and its effect on retailers. Please comment and let’s start a discussion on this evolving subject! For other insights on this topic check out Google +1 is about to get a whole lot more prominent.
Quoting the great Steve Jobs, "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."
As an update to this post, I would recommend checking out CoffeeForLess.com and their new site on this strategy. They are providing customers a discount code for a Google +1 click. As social media becomes more directly tied to SEO results, look for the Google +1 to become more prevalent on all online retailer's websites.