Which Social Network is Best for Merchants?

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For the most part, e-commerce and marketing professionals tend to agree that social media plays an important role in the success of an online retail business. That’s good to know, but one tiny problem remains: With so many social networks and ways to interact with consumers on the World Wide Web, which site is THE BEST one to invest your time and energy on?

This is a question that has plagued marketers for a few years now, but since social media has officially been around long enough for every facet of it to be thoroughly examined (in most cases, more than twice), the pros and cons of the various social networks out there are well documented. This means finding the one that is going to be best for merchants should be a cinch, right?

Facebook
When it comes to social media, the first thing that pops into most people’s minds is their Facebook profile. Mark Zuckerberg’s famous website may have a questionable privacy policy, but there’s no doubt that when it comes to growing and engaging with your audience, advertising and even selling your products (through “f-commerce” services from companies like Volusion and Ecwid), Facebook has all of its competitors beat. With more than 1 billion users, Facebook has the largest collection of potential consumers out there, and plenty of ways to get your brand in front of their eyeballs, including its various advertising programs (display ads, Sponsored Stories, etc.) and the new-ish Graph Search feature.

Twitter
Twitter is a great platform for marketing your brand and sharing your unique message with the world. Since you only have 140 characters to say what you need to say, it really ensures that you stick to the essentials (something most marketers would be smart to do more of). It’s also an excellent platform for accepting and responding to customer queries and complaints (and retweeting compliments) in an efficient manner. Plus, with new services like Chirpify, in-stream Twitter-commerce is starting to become a reality, although a shaky and certainly immature reality, for the time being.

Google+
Google+ has yet to come out with a really feasible, useful shopping option like Facebook or Twitter, and it certainly doesn’t have the audience reach that Facebook can offer, but it does do one thing: help you get found. Since G+ is so closely integrated with Google Search, setting up a Google+ Page for your online e-commerce business is a great way to improve the way your business shows up on the world’s most popular search engine (by a long shot). Google+ also offers the added benefit of Google Authorship, which is great for online merchants with a blog, as it will provide their content with more credibility and authority in the SERPs.

Pinterest
Merchants love Pinterest, because it allows them to share images of their products to interested consumers, and we all know how much people on the Internet love pictures. The huge surge in popularity that Pinterest has seen in the last two years has been a dream for retailers, particularly those that sell products that lend themselves to being looked at repeatedly, such as apparel or home décor. And although interested consumers can’t actually make purchases on the social pinboarding site, Pinterest does allow them to click and link and be taken directly the specific page on their website for the product their interested in. So, since it is basically the online version of “just browsing” through a store, and can thus lead to impulsive purchasing decisions, Pinterest is certainly a favorite among online merchants, for good reason.

So, which is best?
Well, I guess that depends on what you’re looking for. Having a presence on the “Big 3” (Facebook, Twitter and Google+) is more or less imperative for different reasons (brand recognition, search visibility, customer engagement, etc.), but finding the one that works best for your business is really a matter of what your company’s unique needs are. While Facebook currently offers the largest selection of audience targeting and advertising options, as well as third-party services that allow you to actually sell your products through the search engine, making it the most solid, go-to social network for most merchants. But with that being said, don’t discount the power of Pinterest as a way to drive interest in your products and help browsing consumers find your offerings while they’re already searching for similar items.

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11 comments

Minneapolis Web Design 06-05-2013 11:10 AM

For e-commerce, I think Facebook and Pinterest are the best for Merchants. Besides, It also depends on what your service or products is. In my point of view, Twitter is no longer useful as before.

PeterS 06-05-2013 2:26 PM

Slideshare is another useful tool to gain better position on search engines,especially Google

LisaR 06-05-2013 2:44 PM

At the rate Pinterest is growing I think it is best for apparel, as that is appealing to the core audience with the ability to showcase all of the pictures women enjoy seeing. If Pinterest continues to grow, as I think it will, it will continue to attract more businesses and potential customers.

FredA 06-05-2013 2:46 PM

Read this post to get a fresh look at how to use social media to increase your conversions. ecommunism.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/how-to-increase-conversions-using-social-media-marketing-part-1-multi-channel-marketing-extended

Avin W 06-05-2013 6:24 PM

From our experience with internet retailers, Facebook and Pinterest is most effective for fashion retailers.

However, every business is different and you have to really measure and quantify it yourself. (Internet retailers can use our software,WhichSocial.com, to measure & improve their social media ROI)

ChrisD 06-06-2013 10:08 PM

I believe your article hits on all the key points. Google Circles in my opinion will in several years outreach FB.

The focus on specific Communities of similar minded individuals is very attractive. The down side right now is its being mainly used by Internet Marketers, and this will need to be controlled more for it to become a viable option for the mainstream. That said- it's a very powerful SEO TOOL for local search, somewhat similar to a PR.

FB has the most expensive ad rates of all, privacy issues, and lack of content management by the Admin.

I believe wholeheartedly in Free Speech, but the use of extreme vulgarity is offensive, and unnecessary.

Pinterest is a wonderful visual media, and I would speculate that Conversion rates for it exceed all others- that is the bottom line..

The problem for small biz is that they still don't understand the Power of a optimized landing page vs. sending them to your web page.

Anyway just my thoughts

Jonathan Smith 06-07-2013 2:02 AM

To have a Social presence on these big social media sites play a big role in making your brand a reputed one but by adding your brand on these sites doesn't mean that your work is done. Adding your brand on other social media sites like Myspace and LiveJournal helps you in generating good web-traffic to your site.

To find more information,please visit

<a href="www.idfmarketing.com/.../a>  

VitaliyD 06-10-2013 9:58 AM

Everyone has different answer on this question based on the own experience. I would add Quora to this list. Continuing this topic, here are few tips on how to get use of social media with the help of proper content strategies:  <a href= "www.ukietech.com/.../a>

WandaA 06-10-2013 11:06 AM

Google+ has many benefits to any business, but especially for local merchants. If a merchant believes search engine optimization is important to its business, then having a presence on these big 3 and frequently sharing links to the merchant website are very helpful to SEO. The marketing value is definitely dependent on the merchant's target customers. One social site that never gets mentioned but is amazing for merchants is wanelo.com. The under-20s I know don't use Pinterest, they use wanelo...so if your demographic are teens, you definitely want to get in on this site.

Modern Design 06-10-2013 11:36 AM

Quora & Slideshare are good! but they are not the best one. FB and Pinterest seem to be the best one up to now.

UcheO 05-02-2014 2:50 PM

I think Facebook is the best, primarily because of it's size and that it's already earned the reputation in my books. I know of many merchants that use it.

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