Kevin Sproles, CEO of Volusion
The continued growth of online shopping over the past years has drawn many new small businesses to the online arena. As online stores and their revenue continue to grow, the amount of revenue potential that social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook provide continues to grow as well. Today’s savvy consumers want products from businesses they can trust, learn from, relate to and “be friends” with. Social networking sites are potential springboards for revenue generation in giving businesses the ability to place products in front of thousands of potential customers, in a more familiar and easily accessible environment.
For online businesses, the opportunity to gain additional exposure online is especially important. In leveraging existing internet platforms, businesses are able to gain additional exposure for their online stores. With the ability to reach large and targeted audiences, the customizable and user-friendly interface of sites like MySpace and Facebook introduce social networks as an ideal platform to expand an online business’s presence in an interactive environment. Five years ago, half of the brick and mortar businesses in the market struggled to develop comprehensive websites, or did not have a website altogether. In today’s market, it’s unlikely to see a television commercial or magazine ad without also seeing a URL that connects that business to its online presence.
There are several resources available to use when creating and designing a MySpace or Facebook business profile. These profiles should have a regular flow of current and useful information, with a personality that matches the business to its preferred consumers. Not only will these profiles compliment an online store, they can also be used to seek out and target new customers. Posting MySpace bulletins and Facebook notes are an ideal way to spread the message about new product offerings and special deals.
Thanks to social networking sites, several niche markets have been able to expand the visibility of their product line. Music bands offer up an interesting case study for the opportunities within this new channel. It is estimated that more than five million bands are now using Myspace as a tool for exposure. If these bands decide to take the next step in using social networks as a retail platform for their fan base, they can realize significant gains. Fashion sites such as Ed Hardy are beginning to utilize this platform to market to targeted social groups as well. With more than 35,000 Myspace friends, all it takes is a single bulletin post to inform their huge customer base of a new product or monthly special.
Currently there are few ecommerce solutions that offer a direct MySpace or Facebook integration. A successful ecommerce solution company should help consumers to further promote their online store by allowing merchants to easily add products from that store directly into their social profiles. Then customers would have the ability to check out securely from that merchant’s online storefront. This type of integration allows businesses to take full advantage of the potential that social networking sites have to offer.
One thing that has been learned over the years is that there isn’t a single magic bullet for being successful online. It is important for online merchants to be creative and open to new opportunities when introducing their products to customers. When entering the social networking world, a business is among thousands of potential leads all with the same vehicle for giving and acquiring information. Be honest, be personal, be a friend and in return, your new friends may become your lifelong customers.
Volusion is an online shopping cart software company, providing fully supported shopping cart solutions for E-commerce. Sproles started the business from his bedroom in high school and has grown Volusion to a multi-million dollar business. He was named one of BusinessWeek’s “Top 25 Entreprenuers under 25” in 2006.