Creating Buying Communities

Build your own social network centered on your eBay Store.

by Janelle Elms
- Mar 30, 2009

With more than 100 million Web sites on the Internet today, are you sometimes in awe that people can even find yours? What used to be a place where we could put up a one-page site with our address and phone number on it has become gigantic, awe-inspiring, all-consuming and fast-moving. But it has also become a lonely place.

This is one of the many reasons social networking sites are blowing up. Consider these facts:

  • Twitter has increased in activity by more than 750 percent in the last year.
  • Facebook has more than 175 million users.
  • In December alone, online users spent 45 billion minutes—that's 750 million hours—using social networking sites and engaging each other on blogs.
  • People ages 35 to 49 are generating the most activity in these areas.

This article isn't about social networking. But the figures quoted above are vital to your selling success on eBay, if you understand the common thread that connects them: the need to belong. People want to be with other people—people like themselves; people with similar interests and passions.

Brilliant and profitable sellers on eBay are already creating active communities and building them directly into their eBay businesses. People who sell art are finding art community members; people who sell pet supplies are developing community members who have pets and so on.

Kathy Eickholt of CatLadyKate, an online antique and glassware store, loves getting notes from her customers explaining how excited they are to be able to get a piece to finish a pattern. Many of her buyers also share a story about why they purchased a particular piece. As Eickholt started to become aware of this common thread among her buyers, she knew these stories had to be shared with a passionate, connected community. She recently put up a "Share Your Story" page for her customers.

"My customers are thrilled to get something that has an emotional connection to their family," Eickholt says. "I wanted to give them an opportunity to share that with others. I changed my product mix and marketing strategy to build more repeat business, and I believe making my community [members] visible to themselves and others will put me No. 1 in their minds."

Shirley Ventress of WhiskerFeathers, an online pet store, also understands her buyer's passions—this time about their pets. "People are so proud of their dogs and cats," she says. "Today people even keep pictures of them on their cell phones. I know I have a picture of my cat Sofie on mine."

Did you know that 98 percent of online buying decisions are affected by what others have to say about that product or service?

This familiar knowledge about her customers is one of the reasons Ventress' site is so successful.

Taking this information one step further, she invites her customers to send in photos of their pets and share them with other community members.

"This pet picture page works great because after they see the picture, the link gets forwarded to friends and family, which then brings more people to my store," Ventress says.

Did you know that 98 percent of online buying decisions are affected by what others have to say about that product or service? Wow. Maryann Lowden of Good Buys All the Time is an eBay education specialist who uses her students' testimonials to create a buying community and take advantage of peer recommendations. What she sells are services, and her previous students' success helps others want to join Maryann and learn how to be successful, too.

Carolyn Jacinto of XOXmas Vintage Antique Collectibles utilizes pictures of her students to help create a community (Who doesn't love to share photos of themselves?). But she's taken it a step further with her exclusive charity auctions. She brilliantly and creatively reaches out to the fan base of the famous person whose items she is currently featuring. You can see her Anastacia page here.

Although not all fans would be able to afford the items up for sale, Jacinto can guarantee they'll be talking about the listings on discussion boards, blogs and other social networking sites. What a great way to build an instant marketing team for your eBay business.

To create a successful and profitable buying community you need to:

  1. Define your community members.
  2. Find where they are on the Internet.
  3. Participate and build trust.
  4. Entice them to participate in your community.

In the next article in this series, we will show you how to do just that.

About the Author

Janelle Elms is a best-selling author, inspiring educator and Visionaire of the OSI Rock Stars. You can hear her on wsRadio every Wednesday on Ask Janelle Radio. Learn the success information you need to grow your business at For step-by-step training on how to set up an eBay Store for maximum exposure and profit, visit One Percent Coach.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

Other Entries by this Author

Follow Us