Shopping has vastly moved into the online arena in the past few years and all retailers have realised that they can market themselves on the web in today’s sharing social society.

Social media means people have a voice and they increasingly want to speak to and share with their peers. This interactivity means web retail brands can no longer ignore their customers and need to start engaging with consumers and talk about their brand.

Social networks give brands the opportunity to form a relationship with thousands of customers and also speak to them on a personal level. And as more people shop and spend money online – retail brands need to get their online social strategy right. Retail has certainly reacted to the evolution of social and almost every brand has some form of presence on social media whether it’s a Facebook page, a Twitter presence or an Instagram page. Brands maybe drawing thousands of people to their Facebook page, but just because people are ‘liking’ or ‘following’ doesn’t mean they are necessarily buying. This is surely the goal of a business that develops and maintains a social media presence.

A social marketing strategy needs to lead to increased sales

Social networks are the perfect place for brands to connect with their audience as they can connect with people to talk and share with people who have similar interests and likes.

A recent study found that over 40% of men and over a third of women are more likely to purchase something if a friend has recommended it on a social network. However, Ad Age Digital found that only 17% of marketing executives believe generating sales leads and pushing a social commerce strategy with Facebook advertising is important.

This shows the majority of brands don’t see the potential of social commerce. Many retail brands have found that it is not that simple to build an audience & following on social networks and expect them to become big spenders. Social media can be used to create a community, generate engagement and ultimately drive sales. However, people need to feel special and part of the right social media environment to engage with a brand and then be encouraged to buy its products or services.

Person using a tablet

Social networking opens up communications between a business and its customer base. The benefit of opening up a direct line of communication is that people start to feel part of the business. If people feel part of something they’re more likely to spend money and also help the business out. Social media allows people to voice their opinions and consumers like to complain when they’re unhappy but also when they have suggestions. By listening to customers, businesses can change their products and services in order to meet their customers’ desire which will mean they’re more likely to sell.

As the social web evolves more social networks keep appearing . There’s the ‘traditional’ established networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but also popular visual channels such as Snapchat & Instagram. This can create issues for brands as time and money needs to be invested to keep up with different online networks. Social media is well established and so is e-commerce, but we are just beginning to see how retailers are developing successful online e-commerce strategies.

One thing is certain, social media commerce is here to stay and retailers need to incorporate it into their business right now.