May 4, 2011, 9:49 AM

As retailers spend more on social marketing, they need to learn more about consumers

An IRCE speaker will share tips for boosting sales and consumer interest through social media.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Alaa Hassan

As social marketing budgets increase, retail marketing managers should pay even more attention to what content will most engage shoppers on social networks, says Alaa Hassan, general manager at iNetVideo.com, an online retailer of movies, video games and music.

He will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “Innovative ways to make social marketing work for you,” scheduled for June 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. He will be joined in the session by Deborah Shearer, vice president, marketing and merchandising, for e-retailer Organize .com, and also Frank Malsbenden, vice president, general manager at Vision Retailing Inc., which operates several e-commerce sites.

A recent survey from Forrester Research Inc. and Shop.Org reports that retailers plan to increase marketing budgets for social media this year at a higher rate than for any other marketing channel except for search. That means retailers can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to social marketing, Hassan says.

“As social marketing budgets increase, marketing managers will need to justify the costs of their social efforts and establish strategies in measuring them,” he says. “They need to find out what gets consumers excited or tempted to share, comment, like or re-tweet. You want to be heard and not ignored.”

Social marketing efforts will pay off in other areas, too, he points out. “Search engines are truly keeping an eye on social media and so should retailers,” Hassan says.  “Monitor what is being said about your brand and where.  The last thing you want to show up on search page results are negative posts by community members.”

According to Hassan, retailers can squeeze more revenue and boost consumer loyalty from social marketing efforts by:

• Finding out what fans or followers want to see from you on social networking sites using surveys and polls. 

• Entertaining and educating.  Make it exciting to interact with your brand by posting valuable articles, giveaways or even sharing company pictures and videos.  Let consumers connect with you and make them feel they are part of your circle of friends.

In the session, Hassan hopes to show attendees that social media can convert into sales, even though measuring the impact of social marketing can be challenging. “Return on investment can be measured in many ways and companies need to set priorities on what they wish to accomplish,” he says. “We will show attendees what iNetVideo did in order to create a valuable social presence online.  We will share with the audience tips and ideas of what worked for us.  You don’t need a big budget, but you do need to set time for social marketing in order for it to convert.”

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Hassan to speak because he has more than 10 years of experience in e-commerce, oversees all operations at iNetVideo and has taken annual sales at the company from $1 million to over $15 million. He has worked in information technology, web programming, web marketing, sales, site operations, merchandising and web analytics. In 2010, he launched an enhanced web marketing strategy for iNetVideo focusing primarily on social marketing and search engine optimization.

 

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