By Marc Schillaci, CEO of Actinic (Actinic is a brand of Oxatis Group)

The numbers are staggering, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Before they’ll add a product to their baskets, they check peer reviews and comments. A further 60% of consumers interact on social media with the brands they buy from. This is why, for a truly efficient E-Commerce strategy, social media makes up (or should make up) an integral part of your approach!

5 tips so you can go pro and create that all important buzz!

1. Create a buzz: buy visibility on social media

To boost site visits and quickly gain more visibility on social media, paid advertising can give you a kick-start. There are two forms: buying fans or followers and promoting posts. Your fans are more likely to see your posts and you can reach people who haven’t ‘liked‘ your page yet. Paid and promoted content is only available on Facebook and Twitter at the moment.

2. Grow your community: competitions are key

Competitions are a classic social media technique for drawing attention to an offer and acquiring new followers.

Competitions work because they:

• Create desire: when people take part in a competition it’s because they want the product, and already see themselves owning or using it. You’ve created a need!

• Promote products: thanks to your competition, your fans are engaged, watching and waiting for when you launch a new product or deal.

• Create buzz: competitions engage and invigorate your community, boosting shares, likes and views. Your followers are more committed when they have a prize in their sites, your comments, retweets, replies etc will be a testament to this.

• Increase your following: it’s a great time to attract new followers with the promise of prizes – who doesn’t want to win a free gift!

3. Follow your followers

It’s important to be active on social media, creating content, competitions and such, but make sure you’re also listening to your customers.

• Listening to your followers helps you understand their expectations and better satisfy them, which will only further your brand image.

• You’ll stay on top of trends in your industry, which limits the risk of being outdone by innovative competitors.

• You can identify your industry leaders. They have expertise and influence in your sector and with that comes buying power. Connect with influencers that frequently engage with others, as they are more likely to share content.

• You’ll discover new customer segments and new sales opportunities.

4. Dealing with ‘bad buzz’

Sometimes, things don't go quite to plan. Bad buzz can spread your message, but not in the positive light you intended. Although a rarer phenomenon, it never hurts to have a contingency plan in place.

Don’t feed the trolls! By reacting and commenting negatively, you’re just going to prolong the agony. Sometimes, the comments aren’t at all justified so all you can do is respond in a relaxed and humorous tone, without overdoing it. However, if the comments are justified, being humble and genuine is the best way to go; admit your mistakes, appease the customer and compensate them in an appropriate manner.

5. Use the right tools

To get the best out of social media there are a number of tools available, which for example allows you to publish your e-store on Facebook in minutes.

Tools can save you a lot of time. The aim is to automate as many tasks as possible, to give you more time to engage with your followers and build your community. Brandwatch are leaders in social listening but to get you started, sites like SocialMention and Addict-o-matic will keep you informed about what’s being said about your brand and in your sector. Social media dashboards such as Hootsuite or Buffer can help you manage your social media accounts all in one place, where you can program posts and gather stats for analytics.

Define your priorities and how much time is available for them, try to stick to your schedule, be serious but don’t take yourself too seriously, be present without being omnipresent and above all have fun without wasting too much time.