Social networking is a communication phenomenon that has grown rapidly over the past decade. It has been proved the best medium to create a good rapport building with the customers and also to make an effective brand engagement medium around the internet. Today`s social networking landscape has given a new horizon to eCommerce and its promotion. In web 3.0 era, every second person using internet in India is hooked up to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Bloggers, Hi5 and others. So, promoting business on to these social networking sites is somehow inevitable.
Today` customers show less trust on website marketing messages and becoming more influenced by recommendations from near and dear ones including web weaven friends/ word of mouth publicity. The popularity and promotion of a brand depends upon the number of people liking it. Gone are the days when customers used to get enticed and agile towards discounts and tricky offers from the companies. Now the Indian consumers have become more aware and prompt in regards with the e-deals. This made the marketers to integrate the social media platforms to cater to growing urge of two way communication. However, leveraging these platforms has never been so easy; various issues of complaints regarding delivery delay, tampering and frauds are being posted to the sites on a daily basis. And in this free- flow of two way communication, it is difficult for the brands to hold the popularity because one bad experience can lead to the downfall of their popularity and eventually it becomes viral. But thinking and genuine brands always revert back to the customer`s complaint in real time. Because they know that if a person is unsatisfied with their service he/she would stop ten others to use it.
Now days, major chunk of the youth population are hooked up on social networking. They spend a lot of time on a daily basis surfing upon networking channels. Keeping this trend in mind various digital marketers started promoting their brand using the platform of social media. When you use Facebook or any other social network you see the ads of various brands coming along the right side. However, you never notice them until it have a huge amount of people following or recommending it. No matter the brand name is reputed or a new one both of them are eligible to reach same audience. At the same time, there is a caution for B2C ecommerce companies- do not run to earn likes on Facebook rather than try to evolve better methods to engage consumers aggressively and effectively. For instance all those organizations that are active on Facebook in India can target almost 25 million audiences. And all thanks goes to the social networking because targeting such a huge audience in such a small span of time has never been viable sans it. Now also many new and small scaled organizations do not get the idea behind relating eCommerce with social media.
Assessment of likes on Facebook by various ecommerce companies in India
With the growing importance of the social graph and the booming ecommerce jump into the social media, it`s not a surprise at all that this move can be the next step towards integrating social media with Ecommerce.
At present, there is a huge excitement and rush within online companies can be experienced on social networking pages. When we talk about ecommerce and B2C, straight away we think of companies such as eBay, Flipkart, Tradus, Snapdeal etc.
- Ebay, an online marketplace which offers person- to- person trading community across the country, has more than 1,108,042 likes on Facebook. The online company offers buying and selling both the options to the customers`.
- Same ways, Flipkart with more than 11.5 million book titles, 10 different categories, 1million registered users, sale of 20,000 items per day and 2500 employees. The company has more than 852,181 likes on its Facebook fan page.
- On the other hand, companies like Tradus and Snapdeal are lagging back in the race. They are comparatively having 60,077 and 137,012 likes on their Facebook fan pages.
These fan pages not only show the details of the brands but also addresses the complaints and issues of the customers. It includes discussions, questions, feedbacks and some other activities. Inculcation of the above functionalities in brand’s Facebook page seems to be a tacit move by the E-players in order to retain consumer`s faith and engagement.
However, if we make an analysis on the way how these online companies respond towards the complaints and problems of the customers as many of them have a discussion page along with their Facebook fan page, we can see that eBay and Flipkart are more prompt towards answering them as well as resolving them in real time. But on the other hand companies like Tradus.com and 99Labels are not so very positive towards it. In fact few companies even do not have an option of discussing complaints on Facebook fan pages. This is where these online companies lack customer`s attention. So just creating a Facebook fan page cannot make things fly, they need to maintain with a sincere and receptive approach.
Graphical representation – showing the time- gap between the complaint registered and the response delivered
Today people who reside in backward places too have an access to the internet and social networking sites. It might not be possible for them to avail the benefits and offers from their place but being online they can easily order the products whose brick and mortar stores are not available in their city or town. On an average, people spend somewhere between 1-2 hour on these social networking sites, and this is the time when they can be targeted. These days social networking is a buzzword and the craze is at its culmination. So every organization, big or small does have a fan page on one or all of these social media websites. Social media sharing websites also includes Youtube, Y!Video, AOL Video, Metacafe, Blogger and WordPress. All these are different form of social media which are valuable for social networking. All these sites help in B2C (business to consumer) marketing.
There are some major optimizations of social media as this mechanism engages customers by many ways.
- Consumers can directly interact with the organizations via wall post or messages or mails, they subscribe from the newsletter service also they encourage their friends to do the same. So this move has been proved very much beneficial and helpful for the online organizations as they have options for reaching maximum number of consumers and at the same time social media can be used to address consumer’s complaints and suggestions.
- Online companies can spread product updates through posts, conduct quiz and other contests giving away prizes like movie tickets and discount coupons via social networking sites to engage the customers. All these methods have one trait in common and that is focusing of engagement of customers in a meaningful manner.
- Ecommerce B2C companies can use social media as additional sales sub-channel on internet. However, this concept is not so popular, as of now, but in future India would witness what US and European market leveraged with conceptualization of Social Shopping.
The main advantage of this unique combination of eCommerce and Social media is for the medium-sized manufacturers as now they have the power to compete with their largest competitors being on the same level. So, now the real battle has begun in the marketplace and this time the battle field selected by the marketers is Social Media platforms.