A company’s social media strategy is unique to its business model. It need not necessarily be centered around the popular social media sites such as Facebook LinkedIn, Twitter etc. A company that realizes this has the potential to become the leader in the space it is competing in. In my opinion, Amazon is one such company that has built a social media strategy which is completely integrated into and tailored for the products it sells.
While Amazon offers a variety of products and services such as online shopping portal, cloud computing, handheld devices, digital content, prime etc., I will focus on Amazon’s online shopping offering and discuss the social strategy that enabled Amazon become the leader in e-commerce business.
Let me start by saying that Amazon does have presence on popular social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. for various reasons such as raising awareness about certain products, publishing lightning price deals, recruiting great people to work at Amazon etc. However this presence does not form the core of Amazon’s social media strategy for its e-commerce business.
Amazon’s social strategy for its e-commerce business dates back to its early days when the company was formed in late 90’s. Shoppers were used to touching and examining products before they made the decision to purchase – This was one of the biggest advantages of shopping at a retail store. This was the biggest hurdle Amazon had to cross – “Enabling customers make informed purchase decisions online” and Amazon invented a social strategy that the company has been successfully using ever since. This strategy is centered around two pillars – “Customer Reviews” and “Similar Products”.
“Customer Reviews” also called “Product Reviews” enables online shoppers to write reviews about a product that they bought and liked. This helps social exchanges of unbiased opinions about products. While many more e-commerce sites have replicated this strategy now, Amazon still serves as the leading source of customer created unbiased product reviews. To make product reviews more useful to customers, Amazon enabled community moderation by letting customers vote to measure the usefulness and relevance of the reviews. Amazon also enabled discussions that let shoppers ask follow-up questions directly to the reviewer.
“Similar Products” on the other hand enables shoppers understand the vast number of choices available to them within the scope of the product they are looking to buy. Some examples of how Amazon has implemented this: “Customers who viewed this item also viewed”, “Customers who bought this item also bought” etc. These services provide information necessary for shoppers to make informed purchased decisions without compromising privacy of other shoppers.
Amazon has adopted its core social strategies to fit the evolving technology creating more threat to competitors – One such example is the “scan-it” feature in amazon’s smartphone app. When I am at a brick and motor store, I always use the scan-it feature to scan bar code of the product I am looking at. This helps me read customer reviews on Amazon and also look for similar products to understand my choices. Most of the times I end up buying the product on Amazon because I discover a better alternative or find a lower price. With the raise of technology, Amazon’s social strategy has helped the company convert its brick and motor competitors into its collaborators (showrooms).
In summary, Amazon has built a long-term social strategy to overcome some of the challenges associated with e-commerce business model. While popular social media networks can help a company to a certain extent, a long term social strategy is one that is built on a company’s strengths to solve the unique challenges associated with its business model.