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How to Make More Effective Use of Social Media in Your Ecommerce Strategy Profiting from the seemingly-endless boom in online spending requires a clear vision of who your customers are and how to engage them.

By Brett Relander Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to a recent report from comScore, consumers spent more than $9 billion during the week following Thanksgiving in 2014, often referred to as Cyber Week. This represented an increase of more than 14 percent from the nearly $8 billion spent during the same period the previous year. Ecommerce is certainly on the rise. It is now incumbent upon companies to ensure they are tapping into that trend in order to stay ahead of the competition. Moving into 2015, it will become increasingly important for brands to ensure they are utilizing social media in order to succeed with e-commerce.

Yet, many brands often continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to integrating social media with e-commerce. Among the most common mistakes that many companies make is thinking that a presence on a social media platform, such as Facebook or Twitter, is enough to attract customers. It must always be kept in mind that socializing is the primary reason that most people choose to participate in social media networks. Shopping is secondary. The best way to take advantage of social media is to deploy it for enhancing the customer's shopping experience rather than vice versa.

Related: The 5 Big Reasons People Aren't Following Your Social-Media Accounts

Monetizing social media.

If you are not already incorporating social sharing in your marketing strategy, the time to do so is now. Optimize your website for social sharing with the addition of social network buttons. Place the buttons strategically on product pages to encourage customers to share with their friends the products they like and purchases they make. Ecommerce is no different from brick-and-mortar commerce in that building trust is essential. Social media sharing activities provide clear evidence that your products are worthwhile.

It is also important to take the step of including customer reviews. Many retailers are hesitant to do this because they do not want to broadcast bad reviews. The reality is that while you may receive an occasional bad review, failure to be transparent by including customer reviews on product pages could also drive away business. Marketing Land reports that 90 percent of respondents state that positive online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.

Choosing social media networks.

Is it better to have a presence on every social media network or only a select few? While some brands try a broad-spectrum approach, most brands have limited amounts of time for properly investing in social media. As a result, it is far better to manage a small number of social media networks and do them well. The key is to choose social media networks that are relevant to your customer base. For instance, if your customer base is comprised of females between the ages of 25 and 50, then Pinterest should be included in your social media strategy. By comparison, if your products and services are more B2B, then LinkedIn is a more relevant choice. Facebook should be included regardless of your customer base demographics due to the sheer number of users, currently at more than one billion, according to Venture Beat.

Related: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: Determining the Best Platform for Mobile Marketing

Combining social media with other marketing strategies.

There is often a common tendency to view social media as separate from other types of marketing activities. For the best outcomes, social media should be integrated with other forms of marketing, including email. For instance, you might encourage your followers on social media to also subscribe to your email list for maximum exposure. As social media continues to become a vital element of everyday life, it will become more important to leverage it order to succeed with ecommerce.

Related: What NASA Can Teach You About Social-Media Marketing

Brett Relander

Managing Director at X1 Sports Nutrition

Brett Relander is founder and managing director of X1 Sports Nutrition (http://X1Fuel.com). He has a degree in exercise science, is certified as a Master Fitness Specialist and in the biomechanics of resistance training, and is an advocate of all-natural nutrition and advanced performance training.

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