eBay success story and author John Lawson not only knows how to make money through e-commerce, and specifically social commerce, he knows how to teach others to do the same thing.
When we last checked, his website, ColderIce Media, provided more than 300 pages' worth of educational and entertaining articles and video links, all with Lawson's entertaining spin on all things related to e-commerce.
In Part 1 of our three-part interview with Lawson, he gave his definition of social commerce, explained why learning about it is worth your time and, perhaps most importantly, described how to get started. This time, we'll discuss setting the right tone for your social commerce postings, videos and tweets; give examples of great and not-so-great e-commerce strategies; and discuss how your strategy might be tweaked to reflect the seasons and holidays throughout the year.
If all you say is 'here's my stuff on eBay,' nobody wants to be friends with you. It's so easy to ignore you, and it will make people unfriend you
Schepp: What do you see as the biggest mistake people make with social commerce?
Lawson: The first one is trying to sell me their products before I even know them. We've made it so simple to go and list our products on our websites or in our markets, and easily share that info with social media sites. Push the button and you're on their social networks, but that leaves people sick of your sales pitch. People see this as failure, but that's the wrong expectation, and it's the wrong way to go about engaging your customers.
And there are also stories of large corporations that have made big blunders. I just saw a guy talking about how Burger King made one a few years back. They asked you to "flame" a friend and they'd send you a coupon for a free Whopper. It didn't work well, because it was against Facebook rules, and it alienated people.
If people click your button and go to all your eBay listings, you're going to wind up alienating people. You destroy your credibility. On average, every Facebook member has about 200 friends. If you're among that crowd and all you say is "here's my stuff on eBay," nobody wants to be friends with you. It's so easy to ignore you, and it will make people unfriend you.
I just deleted someone from LinkedIn, because two days after I agreed to connect with her she had already sent me multiple emails trying to sell me stuff. Courses about social commerce do not recommend this!
Schepp: It's surprising how often you still see unabashed sales pitches on Facebook, for example. Can you elaborate on how you make money through social commerce without alienating people?
The opportunity that comes with social commerce is you're waiting for them to come to you, because you've demonstrated your expertise
Lawson: First you need to realize that each site is very different. (I'll talk more about this later.) They're there for different reasons. People use them for different reasons. Just because you put all four of those [social media icons] at one time on a product listing that doesn't mean you're going to be successful. So first define your business goal and then determine which platform would be best to help you reach that goal.
You need to listen. You need to think, OK, I'm going to take time now to do some searches on those sites to see what people are talking and saying about bandanas, for example. Then you need to drill down real deep, say, to the red ones and the black ones. At this point, I just want to see what people are talking about. Within those discussions you'll find a question you can answer. That's an opportunity. Not to sell but to become the go-to guy for good, solid information. That gives you power as the resource. Once you gain that, people will trust you and buy from you. If I throw it against the wall, a million people will see it, and someone will buy it. But that's not what we're going for.
You're already the go-to guy. If you sell bandanas, you're already the expert. You know more about your product than anyone. If you walk into Macy's, you expect the lady behind the counter to know more about makeup than you do. You're that person. Vacuum salesmen prove their expertise before they even try to sell their products. That's the opportunity that comes with social commerce. You're not cold calling. You're just waiting for them to come to your door, because you've demonstrated your expertise.
Spend time on social platforms talking to your current customers and you'll attract new customers
The best place to address sales is in a signature, like the one you place at the end of your emails. Or a blog, for instance, will usually ask you for a name, and maybe a blog site. Feel free at the end of a comment to say, "Thanks a lot, John Lawson, CEO ColderICE," and put a link in it. When you put your contact information at the end of the message, if they're looking for information, they'll definitely click that link. Now you're golden. But before you do this, add value to the conversation.
Schepp: How should your social commerce efforts change with the calendar and the various holidays?
Lawson: Remember, social media is about talking to your audience. And social platforms are way better for talking to your current audience than finding new ones. Spend your time talking to your current customers and you'll attract new customers.
Holidays are good opportunities to do that. Your customers can see you've put together packages that may not be available any other time of year. When you're engaging with customers in their social spaces, their networks will see them engaging with you. Then you build excitement and their networks show it. So, work on engaging your current customers.
Schepp: Thanks, John!
In Part 3 of this series, we'll explore specific strategies for the major social network sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.