Companies use social media to boost e-Commerce sales

Companies + social media marketing = boost for e-Commerce sales

Online retailers, computer companies, and other more traditional “brick & mortar” type companies are leveraging social media to boost e-Commerce sales.  While other companies appear ready to consider a marketing option that includes at least some aspect of social media, Starbucks, Dell, and JetBlue are not waiting on the sidelines, they are leading the way and have enjoyed increased sales as a result.

In a prior Examiner article, Do you need a social media champion?, I shared the observation, “Marketing firms, ad agencies, large companies, entrepreneurs, small businesses, sales people, start-up companies, consulting firms, internet marketing firms, job seekers, software developers, technology pioneers, hiring managers, curiosity seekers, and everything in between, are taking a much closer look at social media to understand exactly what it is, and what, if any benefits, it has to offer.”

Starbucks, Dell, and JetBlue got results using innovative ways to provide value for customers using social media.  Social Media Success Stories on SlideShare mentions Starbucks, Dell, and many other companies who have found success with web 2.0 marketing. The author mentions that, “new technologies evolve daily resulting in new opportunities.  Cutting edge campaigns can look “old fashioned” within months.  The focus of these campaigns is usually not on direct sales, but rather on brand building and initiation of conversation among potential consumers.”

The Starbucks success story

Starbucks jumped into the social media arena with My Starbucks Idea – Starbucks’ own version of a social network where customers are asked to share their ideas on anything related to Starbucks. Starbucks also started a blog entitled “Ideas in Action”.  This allows them to reach many more customers across a wide social media landscape, recognizing that not all consumers use the same social networking sites.

Starbucks increased its online brand presence with these additions:

Starbucks on Twitter
Starbucks on Facebook
Starbucks on YouTube

In a blog post, Starbucks’ Formula to Social Media Success, marketing consultant Ayelet Noff analyzes Starbucks highly-visible social media footprint across the web, the secret for its success.

“Overall Starbucks’s social media strategy integrates many different elements into the mix and combined together, these elements create a social media plan that works beautifully to create millions of fans for the brand and keep them involved in the brand’s doings. The brand has created a digital dialogue with its customers, enabling people to give their feedback and receive a response back from Starbucks addressing their concerns/comments. Starbucks is showing its customers and potential customers – “hey, we care about what YOU have to say.”

“I am certain that if each one of these elements was done alone then the strategy would not have been as successful and complete as it is when done like this in integration with the rest of the elements on board.”

Starbucks has over 705,000 followers on twitter and over 5,428,000 fans on Facebook. I guess you could say that they’re doing something right on the Web.” – Ayelet Noff, aka Blonde 20, 1/11/10

A post by Clark Fredricksen offered this insight.

“While the classic mantra on social media may be all about “conversation” and no up sell, the reality is that a mix of promotion and interaction can yield results, as companies like Dell, JetBlue, and Starbucks show.”

“More to the point: Consumers — even those on social networks — really aren’t that offended if you give them a good deal. As we wrote in a recent newsletter article, “those polled for the ‘2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study’ were interested in brands that would keep them informed, provide product information and give incentives—and generally use new media to help solve consumers’ problems.”     – Tracking Twitter Success at Dell posted by: Clark Fredricksen – December 11, 2009


JetBlue made good use of the fan option on Facebook to spearhead an All-You-Can-Jet Fan Sweepstakes promotion, where being a fan on Facebook might qualify you for free round-trip tickets, a vacation for you and three friends, or even unlimited free travel on JetBlue for a year.


Dell offered both coupon discount promotions on Twitter, and good customer service by “listening” to customer complaints and offered free shipping, in one instance to address a problem.

Dell Inc., relying on social- networking sites to drum up sales of personal computers, said its promotions on Twitter have helped generate more than $6.5 million in orders for PCs, accessories and software.” – By Connie Guglielmo, December 8, 2009

Take the time to learn social media marketing or not?

A post by Amanda Brooke puts it this way –

“Internet research has shown that social media communities, blogs and social networking can have as much or more of an impact and effect than TV, radio or print media.”

“Online businesses that use social media to build their brand, and to assist in customer service, will rise to the top much faster than those who don’t.”

“By working on your brand recognition on the most popular social media sites such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, you can reach a much, much broader audience than traditional marketing methods.”

“Take the time to learn about Social media marketing!”

– From Your Social Media IQ: Understanding How it Works for eCommerce – Amanda Brook 11/ 03/09

Where will your company find customers? Are you “all in” or watching from the sidelines?

The jury may still out on whether other companies choose to add social media marketing to their traditional marketing campaigns, but for the companies covered in this article, they have enjoyed success not only with increased e-Commerce sales, but have strengthened their online brand presence and created a very highly-visible social media footprint across the web.

“Listening” to their customers, and creating conversations that span several social media sites, allows for communication that strengthens relationships for existing and potential customers. This has become a top priority for Starbucks, and other successful companies, who have learned to navigate the ever evolving world of web 2.0 / social media marketing.

Is your company taking advantage of the opportunity to Learn, Listen, and Engage to Build strong relationships by offering something of value to the social community and potential customers?

You have to go where the customers are and be willing to try marketing in a different way.  If you don’t, your competitors will see the potential, jump in and seize the moment, and utilize social media marketing that will likely take customers away you might have had.

Is your company willing to risk remaining on the sidelines and watch your competition take away e-Commerce sales that may have been yours?

To view this Examiner article and other articles that may be of interest, click here.