Social media gives you the ability to provide social proof for the claims you make about your products. In the past consumers relied on information provided by vendors because there were few alternatives. Today there is an abundance of information and shoppers have to figure out what information is true.
Amazon was one of the first to make effective use of user product reviews to give online shoppers valuable information they could use in deciding whether to make a purchase. Most of us would admit that we have been influenced by reviews when looking at a particular product and deciding whether to buy.
Companies that are new to the world of social media often hesitate to publish reviews because they fear that their products will receive negative ratings. What they need to understand is that today’s buyers, expect to see some negative reviews. Bad reviews will not prevent them from making a purchase as long as they are counterbalanced with positive reviews. The 21st century buyer values transparency and as long as you offer a quality product, they will trust you more if you show some of your warts rather than trying to project a perfect image.
Participating in and contributing to the online communities that your target audience lives in helps to build familiarity and a bond with those who may eventually shop with you or support your cause. This does take more time than just sending out marketing messages talking about the benefits of your products.
The amount of information that we are bombarded with and the simple fact that people need to be reassured that your business will be around for awhile before they buy, mean that it will take patience to build relationships that produce sales..
Social media should be used as one of many tools in your marketing strategy. Its reach, potential to create a viral effect and its increasing use by the public make it one of the most cost effective and powerful approaches that anyone can use today.