When it comes to reaching customers, mass media marketing has been the go-to tool for online retailers for years. In the age of the ‘empowered consumer’, throwing out one or two messages about your business to a mass audience and hoping it sticks is no longer enough. But that’s nothing new. The question is: should social media be a choice, or is it a critical lifeline for today’s businesses – especially those that live online? This topic was put under the microscope at Rakuten Future Forum Taiwan 2015.

  1. Social is Media

According to the Director of Digital Operations from Conde Nast, Charles Lee, “social is media” and it should be treated the same as any other media. Businesses should give social the same level of importance as they would to traditional media channels. Building long-term online relationships are key in managing a steady traffic flow that leads to higher sales conversion.

With a strong social media strategy in place, businesses can enjoy more freedom as they become less dependent on external media resources. With the right strategy in place on the right channels makes it easier to create targeted content that will reach niche online groups.

  1. With content, the customer comes first

Creating great content however, needs to have the consumer’s agenda at its heart, not the business. Vista Chen, Taiwan e-commerce Startup Association (TeSA) Chairman believes that in order to drive social sharing and generate word of mouth, one of the most important things businesses can do is to generate content that people would feel comfortable and confident sharing with their own peers. A successful content marketing strategy will drive social content sharing that is focused on a specific target audience, simple to share and easy to monitor and measure.

  1. Get back to basics

Building a strong online marketing strategy, e-commerce businesses should look at five basic principles of success to drive traffic and convert visits to sales. By building a multi-layered website, having a flexible content publishing strategy and schedule for blog and online posts, compiling and updating FAQ sections on your website as well as having in place targeted long tail keywords (that’s a three or four word phrase that you might expect someone to type into a search engine ) will increase a website’s content “shareability”.

Social communication and content marketing are two indispensable components in the future of e-commerce. Getting both of these things right means you are far more likely to drive actual transactions with your business, making social worthy of more investment from the e-commerce industry. After all, an engaged and empowered social media community is much more likely to trust your message than someone who spots it at random, paying dividends when it comes driving traffic to your site.