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Don’t End Up on Page 44 of a Web Search: Use Social Media for Online Dealers

by Laura Trueman (10/25/12).

If you own an e-commerce shop, you can better response by using social media, including Facebook, Twitter and blogs, than hoping your shop shows up on a search engine.

So much has changed for all of us over the last year and a half. The economy stalled, people are worrying about jobs and, to make matters worse, small e-commerce businesses got thrown a major punch by the search engines, starting about 18 months ago, when they announced that there would be a new way we would all have to submit our data to them. At the end of the day, it all came down to money, and while we all filled out the complex forms with the different information that was required, what was really needed—and is still needed to be No. 1 in the search engine universe—is to pay for the service that the search engines offers or be banished to page 44 in a search engine hell.

That’s the bad news. The good news is there is actually a very quick and easy way around this wrinkle. As small business owners, we tend to have to work harder than people who work for others. The key nowadays is to grow your business from within to the outside. As the owner to two online antiques and collectibles shops, I know it will take creativity, handwork and diligence—there have been more days than not that I simply wanted to just throw my hands up and walk away: no sales; no inquiries; completely bummed.

So, here is the key to getting noticed fast and efficiently: SOCIAL MEDIA. I prefer Facebook and blogging (we will get into blog input next time) combined together, with a little Twitter on the side, because they are far more personalized experiences. That doesn’t mean the old 140-character approach cannot be affective; it just means I tend to like to have a conversation with my potential customers, and the small berth allowed within the Twitter universe simply does not allow me to engage and banter.

A good tip: tie your Facebook corporate page into your Twitter feed. This way you do not have to log into Twitter; the Facebook feed will just automate itself into your other account. And speaking of Facebook corporate pages, yes, you should have one (get one immediately, if you don’t already). It makes it easier to display your wares in sorted albums and separates your personal from your business. I noticed a lot of people do not put the web addresses of their online shops on their social media. The new GoAntiuqes allows all store owners to list their additional store media on their storefront page. I encourage all GoAntiques dealers to contact support if you don’t know how to list that on your homepage. After all, how are people going to buy from you if they don’t know your web address or where to shop?

Another important component is the commitment you will have to make in utilizing social media each day. It’s not a huge surprise that celebrities use social media. They know how to promote themselves and, much in that way, you too need to learn how to promote yourself, the GoAntiques community and the wonderful treasures that you want to sell to the world. Everyone asks how they can become visible quickly. The answer is social media! All the social media outlets feed into the search engines fairly quick via a feed. In fact, I have noticed that it actually happens within a 48-hour period, if not quicker.

In order to become that person everyone wants to chat with, you are going to have to “talk” with the public in an engaging, friendly manner. People want to be entertained, even if it’s just for a short time and this, my friends, is where most people end up with what I call the “epic fail.” Sadly, dealers tend to get caught in a catch-22 rut. They systematically broadcast their product on a continual rotation; I like to call the “sandwich board” affect. Like a ticker tape, their items will roll up your screen, boring you until you either un-friend or block them. Stand out from what other dealers write. Say funny things about items you are selling, tell a story about a find you made. Never not be yourself, but remember you are your own salesman.

Let’s look at some of the basic steps from above to get started:

• Make sure you have a Facebook and Twitter account;
• Make sure you have listed the web address on all accounts where your stores reside;
• Create a corporate Facebook page;
• Create albums of the products you sell on Facebook. Make the folders concise so that people are not confused. Include pricing details. Don’t confuse people with items that have been sold or are no longer available. I only put sold items up when I want to tell a funny story;
• Tie your corporate Facebook into your Twitter account so that it automatically feeds into each other;
• Start engaging people in conversation. For example upload some pictures and say something descriptive and witty. You need to be unique and set yourself apart from the other people competing for space and time in the social media circuit. It is a balance of sharing information to what you are selling. People pick up on it and will start talking with you. You will be surprised on how quickly people will catch on and start sharing your items, your stories, etc. The key is to be interesting, engaging, listen to what people ask, and most important be consistent.

My sales from the social media forum have now become 50/50 with my stores and online malls. Most deals I make nowadays are just through e-mails, texts and Facebook. I know that the social media experience can be tricky, and many dealers might believe it is not worth their time. You have to go into this with a seriously open mind and a committed focus. I touch base through social media at least minimum 3-5 times a day. Yes, it is time consuming, but it is worth the rewards I have seen from it.

Start with these small steps; I truly believe you will see a big difference, especially with the holiday looming upon us so quickly. You want to trend on a weekly basis. You want people to enjoy seeing your posts. Happy people, who look forward to seeing what you have to say, are potential buyers.

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Laura Trueman is a dealer on the GoAntiques Mall Network, operating Truetiques, Inc. and RVT’s Primitives. You can also follow her on Twitter @rvt01 and Facebook. If you would like to be placed on the company’s vendor call list, contact Laura directly at customerservice@truetiques.com.

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