5 New Media Trends That Expand Online Retail Sales

New apps and social media tools can change the nature of online networking. These tools provide fresh opportunities for businesses to reach their customers and generate more sales. Though social media and smart phone apps are regularly used to build up hype around a product or brand, the greatest value for future social media use, in business, will be around services that boost profits for companies that invest in social and mobile promotions.

Highlight Connects Mobile Users through Twitter

One of the big questions surrounding Twitter is whether it can actually drive customers to make a purchase or if it is limited to generating buzz. As more tools emerge to link Twitter usage with a specific location, companies will be able to make better connections with customers in their area.

In the United States alone there are over 100 million smart phone users, creating more opportunities to connect with mobile web users on the go. An app like Highlight can notify customers when they’re close to fellow Twitter followers. If your business or employees have a significant Twitter following, you can engage customers when they’re near your location. You can even offer them a coupon to encourage them to stop in.

FourSquare and Real Time Coupons

As checking in at a location becomes more common, retailers can capitalise on the data generated from FourSquare in order to send coupons to customers who check in. This both creates an opportunity for a sale and for greater publicity if recipients of these coupons notify their friends.

Shane Snow writes at Mashable, “When Foursquare started garnering press coverage in 2009, co-founder Dennis Crowley confessed his dream was to one day know users well enough to target smart coupons on the fly. He wanted to send push notifications that essentially said, “We know you like pizza, and it’s dinner time right now. Pizza Place X, two blocks away, has a special.”

The effect is much like the experience of a shopper visiting a store or walking past a store and seeing a sale banner. In the case of a mobile phone coupon, customers are far more likely to advertise the coupon on their own, expanding the reach of the promotion, to say nothing of the expanded sales potential.

Pinterest Shows Products in Use

Pinterest is the rising star in social media. Pinterest users can easily demonstrate how they are using products, and the most successful brands on Pinterest are providing forums where customers can serve as models and spokespeople for their products.
Chris Horton writes for Business 2 Community and highlights the way Etsy is using Pinterest to drive customers to its website. “Etsy’s Pinterest account shows you how you can make your own products and how to put their products to work in your daily life, which emphasizes the lifestyle philosophy that Pinterest promotes. By giving its followers more ideas as to how they can buy Etsy products, the company is humanizing its brand and forming deeper connections with its target audience.”

Syncing Credit Cards with Twitter Accounts

On the go coupons are just a small part of the potential for social media thanks to new social media apps. For example, Shane Snow at Mashable writes, “many Foursquare locations have ‘$5 Off’ AmEx specials. If a user checks into a location with the special and uses an AmEx card, the store’s credit card machine pings AmEx, which verifies check-in with Foursquare and then credits $5 to the user’s card.”

This app provides tremendous value for customers while advertising their purchases among their friends and driving up sales for participating businesses. A $5 discount may provide the push many consumers need in order to try out a new product.

Use Facebook Brand Pages for Direct Purchases

Sales through Facebook have been relatively low according to some studies. For the time being many brands are satisfied with the benefits of social media being brand awareness and new leads. However, Proctor and Gamble has made a significant investment in an online store that fully integrates with a Facebook brand page.

According to Ad Age “P&G is adding touches such as product ratings , shopper feedback forums for users to share tips and links to its Facebook brand fan pages, through which consumers can buy products directly.” In other words, while customers aren’t necessarily going on Facebook to make purchases, brands can link a purchase back to Facebook while they’re shopping in order to create a more social shopping experience. This kind of integration takes into account the intent of the user and offers the option of a more social shopping experience while they’re browsing products online.

Social media marketing is constantly evolving. New apps and services are regularly launched, and many brands are still experimenting with what will work the best. These new media trends suggest that many brands are learning how to adapt and effectively use social media in order to increase their sales. The opportunities for effectively engaging customers are there. In most cases each brand simply needs to develop the right strategy for its product and customer niche.

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