In last week's post, I talked about two different types of searchers: spearfishers and netcasters. Spearfishers know exactly what they want and they are on a mission to find it, while netcasters take a more impulsive, know-it-when-they-see-it approach to discovering products, browsing more than searching and informing themselves along the way.
These two types of search mentalities should affect the way you design your product pages. They should also affect your social media and social commerce strategies. Social media is the netcaster's world.
The netcaster needs two things to decide to make a purchase: information and inspiration. Social media offers a unique opportunity for browsers to stumble across products randomly. Facebook, Pinterest, and assorted relatives (including your review-enabled product pages) are an open platform for people to share their opinions, activities, and purchases.
Here are five concrete steps you can take to maximize this potential.
I'm not talking about SEO. I'm talking about giving consumers the option and incentive to share your products so others can find them and perpetuate a lucrative cycle. It's unlikely a product will go viral (unless it's a highly unusual product). But making sure your products can be easily shown across social networks is a step toward getting them in front of consumers. For a netcaster who might once have entered "dslr cameras" in Google, social channels offer a great way to crowdsource opinions while doing less work by simply asking friends what they would recommend.
But, be careful of adding too many sharing options just for the sake of having them. We've seen recently that this can actually decrease involvement. Instead, identify the interests of your target consumer and connect your products to the social media channels those consumers will be the most active on.
There are lots of things that can stand in the way of a purchase decision, but lack of information is one of the biggest. Is it compatible with my Mac? Does it take a standard type of battery? What are the benefits of owning this product? Though all these questions can’t necessarily be answered on most social media platforms, addressing one or two key questions consumers may have right off the bat will remove one more barrier to purchase. And leading consumers to this information is an incredible way to hook netcasters, who are still trying to figure out what they want.
Grainy photos will not draw consumers to your products or encourage them to investigate. Netcasting consumers are looking to be inspired, and subpar photography does not catch attention. Use beautiful and unique photography (such as creative lifestyle images) to make consumers curious enough to explore.
One problem with social media is that it is entirely possible to get your products in front of consumers and let that be that. But that won't feed your children; you have to get money from these consumers. To get them to do this, you will need useful calls to action. Having consumers vote on their favorite color of your world-famous socks may build brand awareness, but that awareness needs to be rounded off with a clear opportunity to purchase. Remember, netcasters can wander away just as easily as they stumbled upon you.
I don't mean to contradict my first point. The idea behind making your products scarce is this: inundating your consumers with the same or similar products will remove novelty and lower the "discovery" factor. Yes, you want to get your products in front of consumers. But not to the point of monotony, lest you find yourself in Adam Sandler's bitter position of being recognized for only one kind of (base and overdone, in his case) product. Varying offers and switching up types of products and ways you post will go a long way toward keeping your wares desirable.
If you post a T-shirt, don't post it in a different color the next day. Or, spice it up by announcing a full week of new colors so consumers are curious about the pattern that will appear tomorrow. Focus on novelty, not newsfeed redundancy, if you want to capture the attention of the netcaster through social media.
Facebook storefronts have been in and out of favor over the past few months. There's something to be said for keeping abreast of marketing trends, but it also pays to carefully consider if a store on Facebook will deliver.
A Facebook store can make discovery shopping seamless, but it doesn't provide enough security for financial transactions or the best methods for data tracking. Regarding netcasters, Facebook is a great way for consumers to share products, but without full merchandising they will not be lured to buy.
Pinterest, Craigslist, and Facebook are the realm of the netcasters, but social media and social commerce may someday have a place in the spearfisher world. As more and more people post through social sites, spearfishers may be inclined to try their search on social media to see if they can buy a product where their friends bought it. And if they know from a social site that a first cousin twice removed happens to sell a product they are looking for, they might go directly to the source without ever searching.
For the most part, social media is a utopia designed for netcasters, but as social commerce catches on, spearfishers might find themselves in social territory too.
Social media channels appeal to netcasters looking for information and inspiration to help them decide to make a purchase.