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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2604 - August 09, 2011 - ISSN 1539-5065    3 of 3

Retail Trends Emerge from Etail East's Social Commerce Summit

By Ina Steiner
August 09, 2011

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How do you monetize your Facebook fans, and how do you measure the investment you make in social media activities? That's what 150+ attendees of eTail East's Social Commerce Summit wanted to know as they gathered in Boston on Monday. While no one had easy answers, there was lots of sharing about what was working and what was not working in social media.

Facebook was used as a synonym for social networking, it was clearly seen as the sweet spot among such platforms. But most retailers had "discounting fatigue" - they were tired of enticing shoppers with deals and markdowns and were looking for other ideas to engage consumers.

And it's not just engagement - merchants are also looking for ways to monetize social networking sites. Scott Silverman of IFeelGoods.com discussed Facebook Credits and said one of the biggest challenges for retailers was, "How do I get customers to buy without offering them 50% off."

Michael Schreck of Zmags said Facebook has a broad demographic, so "content is the nectar" to attract the right followers. But he said he felt social media platforms were holding marketers back from unleashing all of their creativity.

While monetization was desirable, many attendees seemed satisfied with using social media to build brand awareness, and several speakers mentioned using techniques on Facebook to build their email marketing lists.

Amy Lanigan of Fluid suggested marketers needed to think differently on sites like Facebook. "Kill campaigns, launch projects," she said. FootLocker launched "Sneakerpedia" where the community creates content.

Lanigan also said merchants should not only turn conversations into conversion, but should turn conversions into conversation. That was echoed by other companies who talked about how to get their fans and followers to share their purchases with friends - as close to the time of transaction as possible, while the buyer is still excited about their purchase. "Build in post-transaction sharing" was advised.

Frank Malsbenden of Vision Retailing warned retailers to be mindful of how much time they spend on campaign preparation, reminding attendees that lifespan is short on Twitter.

At one point during the day, several panelists seemed stumped when asked about how to measure social media ROI (the return on their investment). Among the "returns" Summit attendees measure are traffic, revenue, conversion and engagement. One vendor said his clients benchmarks the interaction of every post, and analyzes why some posts fall below the benchmark.

Attendees reported they used traditional analytics tools (Google Analytics, Omniture) to measure traffic and to correlate social media campaigns to that traffic. Many speakers mentioned Klout, since it measures the influence of individuals and brands on Facebook and Twitter. Another tool mentioned was Scout Analytics.

Al Lalani of Social Annex said he measured people who engage on social media sites, and said they convert 3 to 7 times better. How do they track? "You cookie them," he said.

Jeff French of LoudDoor shifted the paradigm by explaining how his firm did not create content to cater to its audience. Instead, it built an audience to fit the content, and used a case study to explain its data-driven approach to engaging audience and driving ROI.

At the end of the Summit, it was clear that most online merchants want lots of Twitter followers and Facebook fans, but they are now asking hard questions about their value and how to optimize and measure the investments they've made in social media.

Etail East continues in Boston through Thursday.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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