Overstock CEO Byrne Says Social Media Casts Consumers in the Leading Role, Part 2
In his address, titled “The Next Wave in E-commerce," during the June 4 event, Byrne discussed the intersection of social media and e-commerce, sharing his thoughts on reputation management and how to measure social media success.
(To register for on-demand access to the conference, which is available through Sept. 8, click here. For part 1 of this series, where I discuss Byrne’s thoughts on social media misconceptions, reasons to use social media, and interruption-based versus permission-based marketing, click here.)
Reputation management has to be the focus in social media, Byrne said. You have to be sincere; social media is a medium that rewards truth. Here are some tips Byrne gave to help manage your reputation via social media:
- Listen to what consumers are already saying about you. With social media, companies are going to get the reputations they deserve.
- React fast. Make your presence known, and don't disguise whom you are. Honestly join the conversation. The mere fact of showing up and being honest earns kudos from customers.
- Acknowledge your advocates and detractors, and respond to both groups equally.
Using social media for e-commerce
Byrne discussed how Overstock.com uses social media for e-commerce. Examples include the following:
- Customer service. Overstock.com uses Twitter as a quick and inexpensive way to earn credibility with its customers. The company has customer service reps monitoring Twitter 24 hours a day, and if somebody tweets a problem he or she has had with Overstock, a CSR will find that person within Twitter and respond immediately to the problem.
“Social media is the new help line,” Byrne said. “Consumers expect you to be there as more and more companies adopt social media.”
- Customer acquisition. While Byrne acknowledged that Overstock.com is still taking “baby steps” when it comes to customer acquisition via social media, he did provide some tactics to help your progress:
- focus on your value proposition;
- pick one thing and do it well;
- make it a compelling story;
- have a beginning and an end;
- make participation easy;
- market both online and offline;
- cater to a target audience; and
- integrate with existing social networks.
- Public relations. “Every customer is a potential journalist,” said Byrne. New media is segmented and easier to target than traditional, old media. And it continues to grow, with the emergence of blogs a prime example. One way to consider using social media for public relations is to distribute press releases via the channel. It's cheaper and easier for reporters and consumers to share versus traditional press releases.
- Search marketing. There are some things being done to tie search marketing and social networks together, Byrne said, but there's more synergy in this area that needs to be explored. Initial steps to take include hosting, atomizing and distributing content (e.g., blogs, eBooks, etc.); increasing linkability; making sharing, tagging and bookmarking easy; and building keyword density.
Set a goal before any social initiative, Byrne advised, and track it by using many of the same metrics used in online advertising — unique visitors, keyword rankings, cost per unique visitor, page views, time spent, visits referring URLs, return visits, interaction rate, among others.
“Some things can't be measured yet — buzz and general sentiment — without being more specialized,” Byrne said.
5 takeaway tips
Byrne concluded his presentation with five tips to help you get started with the next wave in e-commerce, social media. They include the following:
- Listen first.
- Be transparent and honest.
- Be consistent.
- Communicate with, not at, customers.
- Have a purpose and add value — don't be there just to be there.