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How to Be Likeable on Social Media

Bestselling author Dave Kerpen discusses effective social media strategies for e-commerce sellers.

Captivating, boring, popular, addictive, useful, unnecessary, essential—these are all words that have been used to describe social networks. That’s why we were curious when we came upon a business book titled Likeable Social Media. Likeable? Yet this book is a New York Times bestseller and the bestselling social media book on Amazon. There must be something to this concept of “likeable.”

We considered the subtitle. Maybe it would help explain the book’s intent: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and Other Social Networks). That sort of helps, but that’s also a lot to swallow.

The press material about the book drew us in further:

“When your business is Likeable, it doesn’t simply mean you’re getting the proverbial ‘thumbs up’ on Facebook. It also means you’re communicating regularly to loyal and engaged fans, who are responding favorably to your transparency, your personality and the way you listen to them. It means you’re engaging them as a friend would, creating a sense of community, telling them great stories and getting their networks engaged in you, too. Being Likeable means your brand has a special media voice and presence beyond the product.”

All this helped explain the author’s premise, but frankly much of it seemed familiar (although worded quite well). It wasn’t until we actually read the book that we understood what author Dave Kerpen meant by “likeable” and, more importantly, why e-commerce sellers should care.

For example, Kerpen explains how some companies use sites like Twitter to quickly move tons of inventory. Through its @DellOutlet Twitter account, Kerpen notes, Dell sold more than $1.5 million worth of computers and electronics. Dell accomplished this by deeply discounting excess inventory, then sharing a limited-time offer on Twitter with a link to buy.
“Once you take the time to create your social media strategy, the execution can be more painless than you think”

Kerpen says the strategy not only creates immediate sales, it creates word-of-mouth excitement about the great bargains. More Twitter users then start to follow Dell, meaning it will have even more sales opportunities the next time it has a special offer.

Now convinced the book offers some effective social marketing strategies for e-commerce sellers, we spoke with the author. The interview follows.

Schepp: Large companies have the resources and personnel to manage their social marketing. But small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) must do that and a thousand other things. What would you say to someone selling, for example, vintage clothes through eBay about creating and maintaining a likeable social media strategy?

Kerpen: As a small business owner, it can be very difficult to find the time to create and execute a social media strategy. Once you take the time to create your social media strategy, the execution can be more painless than you think.

Here’s what I recommend: When you get a free half hour or so, take that time to schedule your social media content using a tool like Buffer, HootSuite or Postling. That way you won’t need to worry about creating new material every day. You and your team can take turns taking 10 or 15 minutes to respond to any activity on your page. It sounds like a lot of work, but as long as you schedule in advance and work as a team, social media can easily be managed by a small business.

Schepp: What’s the most common mistake companies make when using social networks, and what should they be doing instead?

Kerpen: The most common social marketing mistake companies make is using the social networks as a broadcast tool. Social networks are meant to serve as a channel for conversation, and what a lot of companies are doing would be the equivalent of marching into a room and shouting, “Buy our product!” It’s not engaging—it’s off-putting. Use social media as an avenue to listen to your consumer first and then to join the conversation.

Schepp: What’s the most important social network for SMBs to use, and what should they be doing to get the most from the time they spend there?

“A brand can spend as little as $100 on Facebook Ads and get a sizeable return on investment in terms of an increase in fan base”

Kerpen: The most important social network for small businesses completely depends on what your business does and who your target audience is. If your focus is B2B, your business should definitely be on LinkedIn, joining and creating groups, and forming professional connections. If your focus is B2C, you have to consider your audience. Facebook is a great way to expand your fan base with its affordable ad platform and content-sharing ability, whereas Twitter is arguably the best platform for starting a conversation with a mass audience. Think about what your brand does and what each platform does in order to find the best fit.

Schepp: You stress Facebook, and it seems many small businesses, especially, aren’t getting all they can from time spent there. How should they use Facebook to ultimately boost sales?

Kerpen: Facebook has a lot to offer small businesses, especially when it comes to inexpensive ad space. A brand can spend as little as $100 on Facebook Ads and get a sizeable return on investment in terms of an increase in fan base. As long as the business uses the page as an avenue for conversation and relationship building with its audience, that audience will make the transition from fans to customers.

Schepp: You mention using Twitter to prospect for customers. Please explain how this is done.

Kerpen: Let’s pretend you’re a lawyer looking for new clients and you decide to turn to Twitter. The Twitter search tool is an excellent tool for finding new clients, as it gives you the option to search for conversations containing the words “need a lawyer” or “need an attorney.” My favorite thing to do is to search for a brand on Twitter coupled with the words “wish,” “love” and “sucks” because it provides insight into what your consumer base loves and hates about your brand, and what it wishes your brand would do.

Schepp: We’ve only scratched the surface of all that your book covers. What else would you like to tell SMBs about your book and why they should read it?

Kerpen: The book is a great resource not only for businesses, but for individuals looking to build their personal brand. Whether you’re looking to increase sales for your small business or boost your own social marketing presence, the book provides real-world examples to teach you to leverage your brand (or yourself) online.

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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