Using social to bring the ‘sizzling fajita’ to online sales

Chris Brogan recently blogged, that “[t]here’s no sizzling fajita effect online,” that is, online commerce does not provide that visceral experience to causes others around you to buy the same thing on an impulse. He wondered if social media could be used as a proxy. It can. Here’s why—and more importantly—how…

Why? The endorsements of friends mean more

Granted, no one had built yet technology that lets you smell and hear what your friends are doing. However, social media—especially Facebook and Twitter—have come up with widely used ways to see what your friends share online. This is really important for commerce because of a particular fact: you are 9x more likely to buy, view or using something recommended by a friend than you are something recommended by a reviewer you do not know (even a professional reviewer). Seeing a friend Tweet, Like or Recommend something he or she just bought online is more likely to cause you to take a look than any advertisement. This is why social media, when used correct, can generate so much ROI.

How? Reward generosity with generosity

Social media brings new power to an old-fashioned value: generosity. It rewards those who are generous and penalizes those who are greedy. If you keep this in mind, you can design a really nice experience that encourages your customers to share the fact they bought your product with their friends:

Step 1: Make the buying experience a good one

If you want people to endorse their experience buying your product, make the experience a good one. If you don’t, not only will your customers not endorse you, the also will complain about you (e.g., “your name” followed by “#fail”).

Make the buying experience intuitive, fast, reliable and safe. Take a look at Apple, Amazon and Zappos for examples.

Step 2: Ask your customers (politely) to endorse you

When you customers are checking out, offer a box that asks them if would please share with their friends (on Twitter or Facebook) that they bought your product. Yes, actually ask, and, yes, use the word “please.” People are much more likely to be generous if you are polite to them; they are much more likely to help if you ask and indicate how much you will appreciate it.

Step 3: Offer to be generous back

If you are going ask your customers to be generous to you, you should offer the same. In addition to indicating how much their endorsement will mean to you, offer to do something for them. Ask your customers if they would like you to Mention them (in a Twitter or Facebook post) or Follow/Friend them in return for their endorsement. This achieves two things: 1) it rewards them and 2) it connects you to them to enabling all the benefits of Social CRM. This type of offer will likely attract those who use social media the most—in a way that they like.

Step 4: Make this really easy

Don’t complicate things by making people pick from a huge list of social media widgets, share their user name and password, etc. Let people ‘click’ if they want to “Login with Facebook” or “Login to Twitter” to endorse you. This usually takes one or two clicks at most and is familiar and proven. Yes, this ignores all those other networks. However, concentrating on Facebook and Twitter gives you 80+% of the social media benefit with <20% of the work and complexity.

Step 5: Don’t abuse this

If you got this far, you have won a loyal customer. Reward this loyalty with the occasional promotion that includes special discounts. Don’t reward it with spam or hard sells.  If you don’t follow Step 5 you will regret it (your most social media vocal customers will let you know this).

Will this become the norm?

This is not hard to do from the technical perspective. It IS hard to get right from the social one. Many will try this. Over time, we will all learn from those who connect with customers really well. Eventually, this could become as commonplace as online ratings (one of the first forms of social media) – at least for those who create positive customer experiences.

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