EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 354 - March 02, 2014 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 5

New Tool Helps Merchants Manage Social Media Marketing

By Julia Wilkinson

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You're tweeting, you're pinning, and you're also likely posting to your Facebook account or business page - all while trying to keep listing your products and keep your business running.

Sellers today know a presence on social media is expected, but they don't always find the time to promote this way. Further, they are mostly in the dark about what platforms drive the most traffic to their products. Enter PageMage's Social Beacon tool, fresh out of beta this January.

EcommerceBytes spoke to PageMage's VP of Marketing, Chris Taylor, and also picked the brains of two of the tool's earliest testers to find out how it can help sellers save time, discern where their traffic comes from, and other benefits. Might Social Beacon shed some light on your own social marketing? Read on to find out.

Social Beacon Lighting a Dark Area in Social Media Stats
Online sellers have been using various forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to promote their items and share useful information. But often they don't know who out there is responding to what and their rates of user engagement.

This was the concept behind Social Beacon. "The idea is it's a social media marketing tool to help eBay, Etsy and Amazon sellers do social marketing, and not just do it, but also be able to measure and learn from what you're doing, and get guidance to help create successful social campaigns, as opposed to just being a "listing spammer,"" said Taylor.

Customization and Multiple Posts with One Click
Social Beacon is a web-based/browser-based app - "it will pull in whichever marketplace you sell on, one or all - it will actually pull in your listings and you can select a listing that you want to share," said Taylor. "And it will let you simultaneously post that on any combination of Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest." Taylor said the service helps save sellers time because "you type in your message, and it auto-populates the message field of the social networks."

You can customize any of those. So on Twitter, for example, you have "obviously 140 characters - you may want to word it a little bit differently, or shorter," and you can do that, he said.

You can also schedule posts in advance. So for example, Taylor had a necklace to promote, and he could schedule it to go up shortly before Valentine's Day. "So you can sit down and schedule far in advance, and just kind of plan things out by day, by week, by month," added Taylor.

Once you post, Social Beacon shares metrics with you. "It shows basically engagement with your post," said Taylor. So for example, for Taylor's necklace post, he can write, "Wouldn't this be a great gift for Valentine's Day for that special someone?" Then he can see on each social network what kind of engagement he's getting - "how many clicks, re-tweets, favorites, pins or re-pins, and so on."

Because each listing is really an ad, he said, "I can try different types of posts and try to get a sense of what's working, and what's not working." And the tool will then also show you when an item sells.

EcommerceBytes spoke to two early users of the Social Beacon product, who were both beta testers. The first is Catherine Nicole, who sells on her own site at CatherineNicole.com, as well as on Amazon, Etsy and OpenSky. Catherine sells "designer statement jewelry, both my own line and other lines that I have come across in my work and travels."

The second beta tester is Charlene Anderson, who sells at charanderson.com, eBay and Amazon. Charlene sells art and craft tools and supplies. "I focus on jewelry making tools and textile art tools," she said. She also does custom jewelry commissions.

Pinterest a Top Driver of Traffic: and the 90/10 Rule
Both sellers said they found Pinterest was one of their main sources of traffic when they used the Social Beacon tool. Anderson said that she gets the most traffic from Pinterest, by far. "I suspected the majority of my traffic was coming from Pinterest, and Social Beacon confirmed this," she said. Because she sells to artists and craftspeople, who are "visually-oriented people," she said that is no surprise.

Anderson pins every day when she is not travelling. "I use the 90/10 rule. Nine cool posts that interest my followers (patterns, color palettes, inspirational photographs, etc.) for every post that pitches one of my products."

As for Nicole, she says Facebook gets the most direct traffic for her, but "Pinterest gets a lot of search hits later."

Favorite Things about Social Beacon
So what has each seller learned about her social media traffic from via using Beacon?

"I've learned what types of posts my followers interact with on each social media platform," said Nicole. She says sometimes the wording makes a difference as well.

"The scheduling and the ability to tweak each post for each platform" are her favorite things about Social Beacon. "Some of its predecessors allow you to schedule posts, but not to have full control over how your posts will appear on each site," she said. "Because my audience is different on each platform (techy on Twitter, crafty on Pinterest...), I speak to my audience differently on each one." There are also different ways to mention or tag, or character limitations, so until now, she needed to cater to each site individually.

"My social marketing is too important to my brand to use a different marketing tool that doesn't allow me that freedom," said Nicole.

As for Anderson, she especially likes that she can link directly to an item on her Amazon storefront, so only her item shows, and "not all of the other sellers."

"I also really like the way you can visually select items that you want to post," she added. "I try to balance my posts based on color, topic, etc. so Social Beacon's visual interface helps with this."

What would they add to the tool if they could? Both said they'd like the ability to schedule Pinterest posts, but they said they thought this was an API issue, so "I think that's going to have to happen on the Pinterest end, not Social Beacon's," said Nicole.

Even with an automated tool like Social Beacon, a seller needs to be careful to send just the right amount of posts out - enough to engage their audience, but not turn them off. But with the advanced scheduling features, Social Beacon gives sellers control over when their posts are broadcast. As for Nicole, she says she's starting to only post to social media through Social Beacon. "There's no reason not to, when you can get all the extra data and schedule several days' worth of posts in one sitting," she says.


About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.


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