Get Personal

Branching Out

Because many sites have adopted some sort of social aspect or allow user-generated content, you can benefit from participating outside of your own blogs, podcasts and social networking pages.

Leaving comments on other popular blogs has also increased the number of people who visit Updegraff's website and, subsequently, view her eBay items. By leaving meaningful feedback and links to her own blog, she benefits from the traffic of their high readership levels.

Richardson has found that becoming a well-respected reviewer has helped him establish credibility and grow his sales. He created a list of answers to frequently asked questions about polarized sunglasses, and that FAQ has been viewed more than 14,000 times. The benefit, says Richardson, is that the people who are reading that information are likely in the market for the sunglasses he sells. By putting helpful, honest information out there, harleyglasses becomes an eBay User ID synonymous with expertise in sunglasses. Richardson has also started reviewing products in his niche areas on sites such as Amazon.com and has found, from studying his sales and traffic reports, that this is leading customers back to his eBay Store.

"With reviews, the customer is actually doing social networking with the product itself, telling the rest of the world to buy or not to buy the product," he says. "It's very powerful. [Buyers] will trust a buyer that they don't know, especially if he has a good reputation in the area."

In addition, Richardson is very active on Prosper.com, a combination social networking and personal lending website. On his profile page, he links back to his business website, gogglesandglasses.com, which also identifies his eBay User ID. He says that placement has significant value for his business.

"[It costs] a lot of money to advertise on the web," he says. "Instead of paying for advertising, I have a link on a high-traffic page. Anything that gets your name out there like that converts to sales."

Longoria has gotten involved in eBay Groups, which connects eBay users who have similar interests. "This is the place to advertise your listings," she says. Last year, she ran a group called Clothes Clothes Clothes. Once a month, a new thread would be posted where listings were welcome--a departure from the general "no self-promotion" culture of many eBay message boards and groups. Longoria says that the monthly thread was a place to list item numbers, photos and even links to auctions.

"Members are friendly," says Longoria. "Plus, I have sold several items in the past to group members who saw these specific postings. My only precaution is to check each group's rules because they all have different restrictions. Some are totally against self-promotion. Most are perfectly fine with it as long as the advertisement falls in the correct thread."

As social media continue to become more popular and important, eBay sellers need to watch them and test them as new venues for getting the word out about their businesses, says Adams. "The more information you get out about your different products or services, the easier it will be for people who are looking for something you have to find you."

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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