Social Media Shopping (digitalmediabuzz)

The story below was posted on DigitalMediaBuzz.com in May 2009. Story is posted here for archiving purposes only since original was lost when the site went down.

As social media evolves, it will continue to attract more and more people with different styles. Combined between sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and so forth is a powerful group of consumers. And most are of a younger generation, often deemed difficult to reach by businesses worldwide.

But as social media evolves, business must evolve with it. To reach this powerful customer base and drive home the revenues that could come with it, businesses must do one of two things: either go to them or create social-driven hubs of their own to drive them in.

According to Read Write Web, an August 2008 survey by Internet Retailer reported that 39.3 percent of retail respondents use social networks for marketing purposes, 32 percent have a page on Facebook, 27 percent are on MySpace and 26 percent are on YouTube.

The point, however, is not to jump into every social media scene blindly. Even if you’re only venture is to host your own company blog that offers specials and/or conducts community interaction, having a plan that utilizes the practice correctly will provide better results than simply creating stagnant pages all over the web.

For instance, a company can develop a slick blog like Urban Outfitter’s, promote a community presence through Twitter like Dell or attack every outlet with a well-thought out plan like the Ford Motor Company.

In addition to tapping into the top social media sites to market products and drive sales, the creation – and rising popularity – of social shopping sites is providing just another opportunity for business to reach areas that can often be forgotten.

Social shopping is certainly not a new venture. As online shopping gained steam in the early days, merchants like eBay and Amazon gained control, and remain very much in that position, of the market. Socially, what shopping sites can offer are interactions with not only the business, but other customers as well through recommendations and/or reviews – two major must-haves for any shopping site.

In a newer sense, Woot.com has taken the review portion of online shopping and built a very unique community. Woot, which typically offers items one deal per day, allows users to comment on any given day’s respective item. Within minutes the comments reach well into the hundreds with customers finding links to reviews, answering each other’s questions or simply voicing their overall like and dislike of the product. The interaction between customers provides each site visitor with a solid understanding of the product being offered.

Two other unique sites are Browseology and Twitshop. Browesology describes itself as “real time collaborative shopping with friends.” Based on what you are searching for, Browseology allows you to launch a URL of a product and can match you up with an expert in the field to help steer you toward a low-cost and pleasant shopping experience.

With Twitshop, the entire world of Twitter opens for business. Twitshop has its users create classified listings with one of three hashtags – forsale, 4sale or auction. These tweets are filtered on the home page for anyone to see what other Tweeple are looking to sell. The experience takes Craigslist-like listings and promotes social involvement.

Social shopping doesn’t stop (or start) with any of these ventures. Mashable recently displayed six of the best sites of which it knows. Utilizing any of these sites works the same way as using any social media to your advantage – it’s best to sign up and take each for a test run. As prospective customers latch on to what works best for them, your business can also do the same.

These driving trends will open up a diversified market for businesses to seize an opportunity.