Profiting From Online Social Networking

Profiting From Online Social Networking
This is​ the​ second in​ a​ series of​ articles we will be publishing relaying thoughts and​ ideas from the​ Internet Retailer Conference in​ Chicago, which occurred June 5th through June 7th .​
Peter Kosciewicz, Director of​ E-Commerce for​ the​ Eastwood Company, and​ Chris Saito, Senior Director, Shopping Products for​ Yahoo! Shopping, delivered a​ presentation entitled Social Networking: the​ Peer Pursuasion Marketing Tool.
According to​ Kosciewicz, the​ Web today has grown into an​ architecture of​ participation that facilitates social networking through devices such as​ blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, and​ more .​
Forrester Research has published studies that show that traditional marketing is​ continuing to​ lose credibility .​
For example, in​ 2002, 78% of​ respondents in​ a​ survey said that ads are a​ good way to​ learn about a​ new product .​
In 2004, that number had dropped to​ 46% .​
In 2002, 14% of​ respondents agrees that companies generally tell the​ trust .​
As pathetic as​ 14% is, in​ 2004, it​ had declined even further - down to​ 7% .​
Social networking as​ a​ means of​ marketing overcomes this lack of​ consumer trust because it​ relies on the​ word of​ the​ consumer rather than the​ word of​ the​ producer .​
Research from Datamonitor reported that 85% of​ repondents in​ a​ survey indicated that word-of-mouth from friends, family, or​ colleagues is​ more trustworthy than corporate-generated content.
So how do you take advantage of​ social networking to​ sell more product? Simple - you open yourself up .​
You plant the​ seeds of​ a​ community to​ grow up around your site by using devices such as​ blogs, customer reviews, and​ forums to​ give a​ voice to​ your customers or​ prospective customers .​
The caveat is​ that you must be high quality .​
You must have high quality service and​ a​ high quality product .​
If not, avoid this marketing method.
Kosciewicz outlined four important rules for​ using social networking on your web site:
1 .​
Guide but don't control.
2 .​
Never censor.
3 .​
Don't be afraid of​ the​ negative.
4 .​
Don't be paranoid.
If you open up a​ forum on your site but then restrict what people are allowed to​ say, such as​ removing posts that are negative toward your company or​ that mention your competitors, then you will do more damage than good to​ your reputation .​
Use negativity as​ a​ way to​ improve your business .​
If people are negative, look at​ that as​ feedback and​ act on it .​
Make changes, and​ then let your community know about it .​
Don't worry about your community talking about your competition .​
Your attitude has to​ be that you are the​ best, so why worry about it?
As a​ community develops around your web site, certain members will establish themselves as​ more influential than others .​
They will be more outspoken, and​ will be the​ ones who often respond to​ others .​
Cultivate these members, because they can be powerful allies .​
Once you have identified the​ more influential members of​ your community, contact them regularly, give them free product, become their friend .​
Feed your influencers information, and​ they will distribute it​ for​ you .​
But do not make it​ appear that you are only interested in​ them because they can help you sell stuff .​
You need to​ be genuine.
Measuring the​ impact of​ social networking is​ difficult .​
Unlike other forms of​ marketing, there is​ no direct connect between social networking activity and​ sells .​
What you will want to​ do is​ track traffic to​ pages such as​ customer reviews, referral links, etc.
Social networking can be a​ powerful marketing tool, if​ you have a​ high quality product and​ are not afraid of​ an​ open dialogue with your customers.
If you would like help implementing a​ social networking strategy for​ your web site, call Work Media at​ 1-888-299-4837 or​ email

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