As John Lawson describes the best social commerce strategies for each of the major social media sites, you probably expect to find pointers for using Facebook and Twitter. But you might be surprised at the site Lawson thinks is the most promising right now for people interested in using social commerce!
In the first two parts of our social commerce series, we talked with Lawson, founder of ColderIce Media, about why social commerce should be part of your marketing plan, and the right and wrong ways to approach it. In Part 3, Lawson discusses specific approaches for each site. He also gives the behind-the-scenes story of the YouTube video that launched everything for him.
I thought I'd just make a video and show people how to fold a bandana. I put it on YouTube, and every time a person asked me that question, I'd respond with the link
For more about these topics, look for John's forthcoming book Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-preneurs. As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, it is only right that we disclose that Deb was Lawson's co-author for this project. As such, she's willing to accept her share of the blame and credit!
Schepp: You're an example of someone who has a successful social commerce strategy. It seems you really started the ball rolling with your popular YouTube video, "How to Fold a Bandana." What's the story behind that? Did you have much experience at making videos at the time?
Lawson: I was really, basically, a one-man shop at the time. Listing, selling, packing orders every day and doing customer support. I kept getting questions in email (through eBay) about folding bandanas like a rap star. Answering them was a real pain. It became laborious. One day, I thought I'd just make a video and show people how to fold a bandana. I put it on YouTube, and every time a person asked me that question, I'd respond with the link. I did it to reduce the work I had from this particular FAQ. It made sense to put my brand on the front and back, and include my link. I never thought much about it. I put the link in the description. I realized it was only going to show up every time if I just put it in the beginning, then put the description. YouTube only shows a certain number of characters, so I always put it first.
I just started giving it out to my customers, and they started sharing it. It just snowballed. It wasn't until about six months later that I realized the bandanas had really taken off. What was responsible for the steady increase in sales? I started looking at the [Omniture] analytics on eBay to see where our customers were coming from, and they were coming from YouTube.
I had no experience doing videos when I did this. I was testing the video on my 1 megapixel camera. It was based on the content alone. I've left the video in that condition because it's proof that what matters most is content in context. I've left the original up there, just for nostalgia. I don't even sell bandanas now.
Plug-ins like Simple Facebook Connect allow you to automatically share your WordPress blog posts on Facebook
Schepp: What strategies can you share for using each of the major sites?
Lawson: Happy to do that, but let's actually start with a blogging site, since your social commerce efforts should begin with that.
WordPress—Use this blogging site as your hub for everything else you do through social media. Blog postings are about stories. And your blog and the stories you tell through it can go hand-in-hand with your business. Through these stories you can tell people who you are, and what you do. So, you post a story there and disperse it to other sites. Plug-ins like Simple Facebook Connect allow you to automatically share your new WordPress postings on Facebook. So, your WordPress blog and your Facebook account work together effortlessly.
YouTube—While we've talked about YouTube already, I wanted to say that people don't realize YouTube is a social site. People can comment about your videos, subscribe to your channel, and therefore get notified when you post a new video. So, it's important that you get subscribers! Remind people through your email signature to subscribe to your YouTube channel.
Facebook—This is a place to engage your customers, not to make sales. Start a Facebook group based on your business and get your best customers to join that group. Get them talking about your products. Give them specials and deals that are not posted anywhere else. Of course, you should also have a Facebook page for your business. People want to validate your business so they'll search for you on Facebook. That's why that page is important.
People are using Instagram to sell products. You post a picture and people may say, 'I like that. Where can I buy one?'
Twitter—Twitter is a great way to point people to other things via hyperlinks you include in your tweets. Everything I do gets a tweet. Through your tweets, for example, you can tell your followers about new stories you've blogged, your Facebook page, even news stories you think they'll be eager to check out. You can also handle customer service-type issues. Comcast, for example, got very active on Twitter. Customers found they could get responses from the company there. Comcast would also use Twitter to begin initial conversations. The "Comcast Cares" campaign really helped that company.
Instagram—Instagram is very exciting to me. It's like Pinterest with Twitter on top of it. You can post pictures there and people can comment on them, or like them. You can respond to those comments. People are using Instagram to sell products through the pictures they post. You post a picture and people may say, "I like that. Where can I buy one?" So, it's evolved into an e-commerce site for small businesses. Part of the reason for that is that Instagram is native to smart phones. Other sites began on desktops. You can't post pictures to Instagram from your desktop. I was talking with a client the other day [Australia-based Enjoy Jewellery] that decided to make Crossfit Bracelets. She posted some pictures on Instagram and was flooded with requests from people asking where they could buy the items she posted. Now, these bracelets represent 70 percent of her business!
Schepp: Thanks, John!
Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview and check out Lawson's new book, Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-preneurs.