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Guidance CTO on Importance of Social Networking

As the landscape of social networking changes (with Facebook as its barometer), ecommerce professionals need to deal with the choice of expanding their social advertising and multiplying their influence into various channels.

Jon Provisor is co-owner and CTO of Guidance, which specializes in helping companies achieve the aim of marketing on social networking sites. Here Provisor shares his understanding of social commerce and Web 2.0.

PeC: How would you define social trade?

Provisor: Social trade involves incorporating the best of Web 2.0 and social networking capabilities in a ecommerce site to create a community of enthusiastic consumers who will buy more, return often and appreciate greater engagement with the merchant.

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PeC: How do social commerce applications encourage customer interest in a product or brand?

Provisor: When done correctly, this fusion of social and trade transforms that retail website to a lively community of customers who interact with one another and with the merchant. This boosts loyalty, increases sales and ignites enthusiasm and advocacy for the retailer’s brand.

PeC: What do customers want from ecommerce websites? Do they need ecommerce to cross over into social networking?

Provisor: To further understand what drives loyalty to ecommerce websites, Guidance partnered with Chicago market researcher Synovate to inquire 1,000 online customers,”When considering buying online, what is most likely to allow you to return to a given shopping site?”

According to this study, conducted in March 2008, 35 percent of respondents said they are likely to return to a shopping site if it makes recommendations on services or products for sale. Another 26 percent want’a special experience every time’ they store. Eighteen percent said they are more likely to return’if the website solicits their opinions’ on its services and products. Sixteen percent stated’a welcome when they arrive’ in the website is the variable most likely to make them return.

PeC: Should ecommerce merchants consider investing in the growth of social-media applications and widgets?

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Provisor: Absolutely, both on their websites and as part of the social networking optimization strategy. By promoting your online shop with internet applications and widgets on social networking websites, social trade becomes equally a lead generator and a conversion tool, helping increase consumer interest in a merchant’s products and its brand.”

PeC: Describe the usage of Internet community as marketing strategy

Provisor: The best thing I could do is to give you an example. In October 2007, brick-and-mortar retailer A.C. Moore launched Acmoore.com, offering its variety of arts, crafts and floral product online. Knowing that hobbyists like to share their experiences, findings and questions along with other equally passionate users, the business slowly rolled out a social trade strategy for its online shop. It started with user ratings and testimonials, then added a forum where customers and arts and crafts fans can swap ideas, share scrapbooking projects, share knit and crochet tips and ask general crafting queries. Consumers even get the chance to speak to A.C. Moore’s management.”

From 11 a.m. the afternoon the forum started, it had over 2,000 registered users posting new topics, clicking on present ones, but, more importantly, going to the site and shopping. A.C. Moore is tapping into the fire that already exists among its clients and giving them a place to express that passion and share it with others.

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