Because affiliates and etailers are more focused on conversions than anything else, they often wonder whether social media has any real value. Well, a recent study conducted by Sage Software and AMI-Partners shows that more than 260,000 small businesses in the US and Canada are using social media in some form, but sales/conversions didn’t at all figure into the top 7 social media priorities.

emarketersocialRather, the most common uses were for customer engagement and networking. And even advertising/promotion came in 4th, with only 33 percent of businesses doing so on social networks.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that social media isn’t valuable for driving sales/conversions. Much to the contrary, social media is exceptionally useful for building trust within a given market demographic. And that trust, in turn, can not only help you gain added customers, but actually retain them. After all, when a consumer feels like they have a relationship with your or your brand, they are that much more likely to become a loyal customer.

This was the impetus behind our CEO’s suggestion that affiliates use Twitter to build brand trust, as well as why Chris Brogan emphasizes that communities are best used for building trust-based relationships, and by trying to just “sell to them,” you’re very likely to shoot yourself (and your bottom line) in the foot.

But this doesn’t mean that social media is only good for “hanging out with your customers.” Rather, Website Magazine illustrates, different social networks have very specific demographics.

Male/Female ratio Over 18 years-old With Kids 0-17 Household Income $60K +
Facebook 54% Female 71% 48% 59%
MySpace 57% Female 69% 56% 51%
Twitter 55% Female 97% 39% 50%
YouTube 50% Female 78% 43% 54%

Digg

37% Female 89% 33%

43%

So by determining where your target market is most active and engaging them there, you can build your brand reputation in a way that actually converts. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that like all solid business initiatives, social media is no get-rich-quick-scheme. Rather, it’s about building brand, reputation and trust.

Using Social Media to Drive Sales

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