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Social Media: Having Conversations on Some and Selling Products on Others

One of the biggest challenges that small and medium sized companies face in their social media initiatives is negotiating the slippery slope of trying to sell products to people who are far more interested sharing pictures of, or conversing about, their kids, pets, and travels. In these social environments, the creation and sharing of valuable content goes hand-in-hand with constructive interaction between the business and its community, and being a good citizen of the “network” is considered as required behavior. 
While participation on these social networks is widely acknowledged as a necessity for a variety of purposes, the primary frustration for many businesses that have dedicated considerable amounts of time and money to social media initiatives is that, even after good network citizenship has been established, any attempt that smacks of overt selling will likely be ignored or treated with the same regard as spam.
If this describes your business’ experience on social networks, the solution may be provided by networks that, instead of being driven by conversation, are consumer/product-driven. The term attached to these sites is “social shopping” and, rather than sharing inspirational quotes and pictures of today’s breakfast, member of these social networks share commentary, opinions, and images of products that are formatted in feeds that cater directly to shoppers’ expressed interests. By combining social interaction with shopping, these sites serve to bridge the gap between the approval and reassurances that are a key aspect of shopping in a store and the isolated decision making process of online shopping. Pinterest and Etsy are two of the most popular social shopping sites, but growing numbers of new sites are being developed and brought online as the demand for this type of experience increases.
While consumer-based social networks present new opportunities for ecommerce sites, businesses need to maintain their presence on the cornerstone networks as well, due to the SEO and reputation management benefits generated by social signals from these sites. To start seeing revenues from social media initiatives, however, adding social shopping networks could be the solution.

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