The Internet is home to two types of shoppers: spearfishers and netcasters. Spearfishers know exactly what they want to buy and are on a mission to find it, while netcasters take a more spontaneous, know-it-when-they-see-it approach to discovering products and brands.
Businesses benefit when they design product pages, social media and ecommerce strategies with the two search mentalities in mind. And whereas ecommerce sites cater to the spearfisher, social media is the netcaster’s world.
With the social media realm growing ever more lucrative for business owners, it makes sense for companies to consider the netcaster’s needs. In 2014, the top 500 retailers earned $3.3 billion from social shopping, up 26 percent from 2013, according to the Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500. Furthermore, social media referrals increased by nearly 200 percent for those retailers between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
Hook Netcasters with Information and Inspiration
The netcaster needs two things on their journey to purchasing: information and inspiration. Social media offers a unique opportunity for browsers to stumble across products randomly. Facebook, Pinterest, and assorted relatives (including your review-enabled product pages) are open platforms for netcasters to discover new products and to find out how those products helped out friends.
Here are five concrete steps you can take to maximize this potential.
1. Understand your netcaster
Would a shopper be apt to happen upon your lifestyle product when searching on Pinterest, or does your B2B sales focus make LinkedIn a more likely forum? Concentrate your efforts on producing social media content for the channels your potential customer frequents. Then, just as you would for your product page, demonstrate how your product addresses your customers’ needs.
Take the time, also, to use social media to refine your understanding of those needs. Pay attention to customers’ comments about what is working for them and what improvements they’d like to see. Social media can be a free focus group that gives you a deeper understanding of your product in the marketplace.
2. Build culture and community
Using your social media accounts to build a culture around your brand will help you hook the netcaster. Remember, netcasters aren’t looking for anything specific, so a good story with an emotional pull can convince them they’re interested in what you’re selling. Ensure your content reflects you brand’s core values, and engage in a real conversation with your followers. Acknowledge those who pass on or like your company’s social media posts, and think about using customer-generated content to improve your product copy.
3. Make your products attractive
Netcasting consumers are looking to be inspired. Grainy photos will not draw consumers to your products or encourage them to investigate. Neither will boring information presented as a hard sell. Use beautiful and unique photography (such as creative lifestyle images) to make consumers curious enough to explore.
4. Make purchasing easy
One problem with social media is that it is entirely possible to get your products in front of consumers and let that be that. But that won’t feed your children; you have to get money from these consumers. To get them to do this, you will need useful calls to action. Having consumers vote on their favorite color of your world-famous socks may build brand awareness, but that awareness needs to be rounded off with a clear opportunity to purchase. Remember, netcasters can wander away just as easily as they stumbled upon you.
5. Don’t overmarket products
Inundating your consumers with the same or similar products will remove novelty and lower the “discovery” factor. Yes, you want to get your products in front of consumers, but not to the point of monotony. Varying offers and switching up types of products and ways you post will go a long way toward keeping your wares desirable.
The Spearfisher Rebuttal
Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are the realm of the netcasters, but social media and social commerce may someday have a place in the spearfisher world. As people spend more of their time on social sites, spearfishers may be inclined to try their search on social media to see if they can buy a product where their friends bought it. And if they know from a social site that a first cousin twice removed happens to sell a product they are looking for, they might go directly to the source without ever searching.
For the most part, social media is a utopia designed for netcasters, but as social commerce catches on, spearfishers might find themselves in social territory too.
Social media channels appeal to netcasters looking for information and inspiration to help them decide to make a purchase.
Editor’s note: Read our updated article on spearfishers and netcasters.