The 8 C’s of Social Commerce

March 30, 2017

Social Commerce

Four years ago, VWM published a blog on the 6 C’s of Social Commerce. Back then, it was a more relevant topic to write about because there were fewer aspects of e-commerce for marketers to be concerned with. The rise of Social Media has greatly impacted this. In the last four years, e-commerce, social media, and technology have evolved into something so monumental that there’s always something new to learn or latest trend to be aware of.

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Wait…so what is Social commerce!?

Social Commerce is a subsection of electronic commerce that uses social and online media to support interaction and user contribution. This facilitates the buying and selling of products and services online.

In other words: Social commerce is the use of social networks within the context of e-commerce transactions.


In case you’re a recent reader, below is a refresher of the original 6 C’s of social commerce VWM highlighted in 2013:

Content: As in: “Content is King.” Consistently putting out valuable content on your site is key. It keeps you relevant and establishes your site as having frequent and more credible materials over your competitors.

Community: There’s a reason they’re called social networks! Building and keeping relationships with the people you’re trying to convert into customers is so important. Social allows customers to actively engage with your brand. Likes, comments and, retweets are all examples of ways you can get real-time feedback from your audience.

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Commerce: You need to be able to fulfill customer needs via a transactional web presence whether it be B2C or B2B. Make Sure your sales funnel isn’t requiring several clicks or on-page searches before a customer gets to the actual purchasing part.

Context: Social networks make it easier than ever to gain insight into the context of where your customers are coming from. Brands can provide specific resources to customers based on location, interest, psychographics etc. Tracking things like check-ins, tweets or activity on social networks provides actionable insight.

Connection: Any connection made with a possible customer is a relationship worth having. Whether it is professional, social, or casual, social networks allow you that initial connection with other people and provide opportunities to develop and keep a relationship.

Conversation: The challenge is to tap into the conversations happening online in regards to what you’re selling. Smart marketers seek out the people who want to buy their products or services – social media features such as a “Like” button is a great way to start.

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These are all still important, but it’s 2017 now. Marketers have a better understanding of just how influential social media and technology are when it comes to keeping an e-commerce strategy updated and successful.

Two New Additions for Marketers in 2017

ChatBots: The future really is now. With the creation of online chatbots, businesses can use AI and machine learning to create the feeling of a human interaction from anywhere in the world and at any given time. These bots can be expertly developed in any field and provide conversational answers to consumers presenting a much smoother interaction. This is beneficial both ways, you get a better idea of the kind of questions customers consistently have and they get a reply no matter when they ask.

Commitment: This is a big one (isn’t it always?) Having a social presence that will attract customers to buying whatever it is your selling is not a one time thing. Keeping up a strategy, establishing meaningful relationships, and consistently growing with your audience is essential to continuous success.

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So, there you have it, our newly updated 8 C’s of social commerce. If you’re feeling a little lost after reading all that- don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

This is an updated post on the 6 C’s of Social Commerce.  


Meet Our New Social Media Manager!

February 20, 2017

IMG_9105Van West Media is extremely excited to introduce our new Social Media Manager, Stephanie Cowan! Stephanie will focus on increasing visibility, engagement, leads, and sales for our clients using their social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn. These platforms are a great way for our clients to effectively reach specific audiences and Stephanie is a master at putting together a social media strategy and creating the appropriate copy and visuals to accomplish this.

Stephanie brings to Van West Media a keenly artistic eye, sharp wit, and unbridled enthusiasm and we wanted to give her the opportunity to introduce herself to all of you:

“I am really excited to be working here at Van West Media and have hit the ground running in the social media department. My biggest focus for the first month was revamping our own Instagram account.  I am super passionate about creating unique and thoughtful content that can strengthen our brand’s voice and visibility. I want each piece of content that goes live to give pause and have reason. It is my goal to make every single aspect of a post on social focused and goal oriented. That’s what is so special about social media. You can mold the big picture by obsessing about the nitty-gritty to create something unique, flawless, and memorable.

I have also spent a great deal of time meeting with many of Van West Media’s new and existing clients, learning about their various industries, and helping them curate and tailor their specific social media profiles. This includes understanding their corporate culture and identity as well as their vision and goals moving forward.

One of the reasons I was originally drawn to Van West Media was because of the vast differences and variety between the client base. Some digital marketing agencies focus on certain niche markets, but Van West Media has a wide-ranging and exciting client roster including law firms, financial firms, fashion brands, luxury travel destinations, non-profits, and more. This diverse clientele makes my job uniquely interesting and fulfilling and means that I get to constantly create new, varied, and exciting content.

If you have not yet taken a peek, I encourage you to visit our newly revamped Instagram account! Follow @vanwestmedia for a behind-the-scenes look at all of the great work we are doing here. I look forward to continuing to improve our client’s social media profiles and if you would like to discuss your own company’s social media strategies, please reach out to me so that I can help you.”

-Stephanie Cowan

Why an Instagram Business Profile is Best for Your Brand

February 16, 2017

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has grown to become one of the most powerful social media platforms the web has to offer. The statistics don’t lie when it comes to its effectiveness and reach. To date, users have shared over 40 billion photos and Instagram reports that there are 400 million active daily users and 600 million monthly users. The widespread adoption of platforms like Instagram has created incredible opportunities for businesses to use these platforms to expose potential clients to a product or service as well as reinforce existing customers to keep a business top-of-mind.

Last year, Instagram introduced the ability to create a business profile for their users. A business profile allows companies to track weekly social metrics including the number of followers that have been gained or lost, impressions, geographic statistics, and age and gender statistics. Businesses can use the analytics to gain a better understanding of who their audience is, whether they are communicating their brand effectively to this audience, and how they should adjust their marketing efforts based on the success metrics, or lack thereof.

Other than the sheer number of customers already actively engaged on Instagram, one of the greatest motivators for a business to create an account is that it is free. Recently, companies have begun to pull a portion of their advertising budget and use this money to create a visually compelling and engaging Instagram presence. This effort on the back-end is proving to be very successful for businesses. 60% of people learn about a product from Instagram and 75% of people take action after being inspired by an Instagram post.  Pretty amazing statistics for a company that was created less than eight years ago and clearly a strong indicator that businesses that do not have an Instagram presence, should develop one quickly.

Curating and maintaining a business profile can seem like a daunting task, but there are some simple tips to increase your online effectiveness while creating engaging content for your followers. Before starting, it is important to determine your audience. Consider, among other factors, age range, gender, social economics, and location. These key factors will become integral to the way you develop, style, and maintain your profile moving forward. Once you have a very clear picture of who your demographic is, focus on developing content that carries a consistent story, or theme, through each post. Instagram experts say that Instagram users want to follow someone with a specific and consistent voice, so the more specific you get with your brand, the better. When posting a photo, juxtaposition is critical; How does the photo look in the feed in relation to all the other photos?  Once the photo is posted, geotagging and hashtagging the photo with words that are associated with the product helps increase visibility.

Just having a profile and posting periodically is not going to drive customers, leads, sales, etc. Creating a business profile, having a cohesive digital strategy, creating a monthly calendar to ensure consistent posting, engaging with your followers, and having unique and creative posts, are all part of a larger equation that should result in an effective and engaging Instagram profile, which should in turn help grow your business and drive sales.

Within the digital marketing ecosystem that your business has created, Instagram can be an extremely important tool. But Instagram is just one star in a galaxy of social media platforms as well as blogs and email campaigns and AdWords that all revolve around, and ultimately drive traffic to, your website. If your business needs help with how to navigate digital marketing, we are more than happy to start working with you today.

Van West Media recently revamped our own Instagram account and the likes don’t lie! Check out our new Instagram feed for yourself!

3 Reasons Why Your Business NEEDS Social Media Marketing

November 15, 2016

Every business owner understands this principle: in order for your business to grow quickly, it needs to be able to reach a wide target audience in the least amount of time as possible. Makes sense, right?

Research reports that 2 in 3 adults use social media. That’s a lot of adults sifting around social media posts every single day. If your business isn’t on social media, you simply aren’t marketing to the over 1.3 billion daily active users between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here are 3 reasons why your business needs social media marketing.

1. Consumer Reach

Social media is the tool every business needs to reach a massive audience in a small period of time. With advertisement options, organic sharing and referrals, and the mere massive size of the active social media audience, you can reach millions of consumers overnight.

2. SEO

Sites that constantly earn traffic make their way to the top of the organic SEO rankings. What’s one incredibly effective way to direct traffic right to your website? Social media. Content strategies for SEO are the most important part of earning top search engine ranking spots today.

3. Brand Loyalty

Consumers have A LOT of options today. There are millions of competitors in every single niche industry, and it’s not so easy to distinguish yourself from the competition. One incredibly effective way to get around this obstacle is by building brand loyalty for your platform. If you develop an interested and engaged core base of consumers, they will post about your company, tell their friends, and share your content with their hundreds of acquaintances every single time.

Give your business the digital voice it deserves!


Snapchat’s Biggest Threat is its Own Design

August 23, 2016

If you think Instagram’s new Stories feature looks remarkably similar to Snapchat’s feature of the same name, that’s because it is. Apparently, it’s completely legal to copy draw inspiration from other applications (apps). How? It turns out copyright law doesn’t protect ideas so as long as there are inherent differences in the interfaces of the competing apps. Instagram’s Stories feature is free to use and is formatted like Snapchat which has become the most popular social network among teens.

The Stories feature is a bold move on Instagram’s part. Prior to the release of Instagram Stories, there were obvious differences between the two platforms. Snapchat, with its disappearing photos, was geared more towards short-term, in-the-moment glimpses of a user’s everyday life. Instagram, however, provided a variety of filters used to create and amplify aesthetically pleasing images and videos, perfecting an album of the best parts of a users’ life for the long-term. Although it’s not the case for every user, Snapchat stories tempted users to post every day, while Instagram posts were not necessarily published as frequently.

Is Instagram declaring war on Snapchat?

…Or is the platform simply just trying to inspire more content creation from users?

The two features of Snapchat and Instagram share a lot in common:

  • Both allow 10-second clips
  • Both stories remove images after 24 hours
  • Both let you reply to stories
  • Both allow you to add custom text
  • Both have filters
  • Both have a built-in marker
  • Both let you save the media to your camera roll
  • Both show who views your story

The differences between the two are few:

  • Instagram lets you “rewind” stories
  • Instagram lets you post sections of your story as an Instagram post
  • Unlike Snapchat, Instagram doesn’t show you who screenshots your story
  • Instagram does not feature geo-filters or facial-mapping

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Whatever Instagram’s intentions may be, two things are apparent. Firstly, the new Instagram feature cannot single-handedly crush Snapchat. It may have some impact on Snapchat’s numbers – but not enough to completely sway the minds of avid Snapchat users to switch over Instagram 100 percent of the time. Secondly, the aforementioned information doesn’t mean Instagram Stories don’t have potential. In fact, it has several factors going for it. For starters, Instagram Stories is very well made; it is easy to understand and navigate in a way that is much more user-friendly than Snapchat. Most importantly, Instagram has taken a powerful hold on the social world by creating a network which allows users to easily follow new people and “experience” places all over the world through the eyes of another person. This existing sense of community makes it so much easier to have access to the everyday lives of users you may be interested in without having to find them through a username the way Snapchat users create their list of friends.

It will be interesting to see if Instagram’s new feature takes off right away or if it will be another Instagram Direct scenario (which only gained traction about three years after its initial launch). What will be even more interesting is to see how Snapchat will react to this whole ordeal.

In the past, Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) has repeatedly tried and failed to buy Snapchat. It seems to us this feature launch might be Facebook’s way of saying it’s done trying to acquire Snapchat and is taking on their niche with the highly successful Instagram app.

Your move, Snapchat.

5 Things to Expect from Digital Marketing in 2015

December 30, 2014

Things to expect from digital marketingOver the past year, digital marketing has seen great changes and growth in several areas and is poised for another year of progression. Are you wondering what to expect in 2015? Blogs and articles detailing areas in which marketing will change are rolling out across the web, and we’ve compiled a list of the top five things to consider priority as we move into the new year.

  1. Content is still king.

With continual changes to Google, content is shaping up to be a focus in 2015; although the strategy behind your content should be thoroughly planned. If you want to influence the success of your business, consider what your content is, where it is and what it really says. Keep in mind that engagement as an algorithm is taking into account how long users stay on a particular page or post, as well as how many users click on page links to measure the value of published content.

Content should be relevant to your brand and message, but don’t let your company fall from the first page of Google. Optimizing your messaging for search engines is necessary, and we can help with our SEO-integrated content strategy model. Our strategic model takes into account your owned social media platforms, as well as your search ranking positions through targeted keyword analysis. Our SEO and social media optimization (SMO) work in tandem to lead your company in the right direction.

  1. Digital marketing analytics will expand.

We all are aware that marketers use many analytics tools to see how customers are interacting with a client’s products and services. In 2015, analytic spending is expected to increase by 60 percent, which tells us that collecting data on consumers is increasingly important to companies and marketers alike. With a plethora of channels, companies are seeking now more than ever to quantify their efforts, and this year is sure to be one for measurement.

  1. Personalization is key.

Although organizations have been saying it for years, it’s crucial that companies treat their consumers as individuals instead of segmented groups. Thanks to a focus on data analytics, we can better influence audiences and increase engagement by marketing specifically to them.

Last year, personalized content increased companies’ sales, enticed users to stay longer on websites and built customer satisfaction and retention. It’s expected to be a go-to practice in 2015, further developing the concept of 1-on-1 marketing.

  1. Don’t disregard mobile.

Similarly to 2014, we predict mobile advertising will continue to grow in 2015 as apps’ numbers increase and access to consumer data becomes accessible across large mobile advertising networks. With consumers spending nearly three hours a day on their smart phones, many predict to see a huge increase in location-based ad platforms in 2015.

  1. Online advertising budgets will increase.

Online advertising budgets are predicted to increase by 10 percent in 2015, and mobile advertising in expected to rise globally by 48 percent. Between the two, it’s almost certain that the cycle will continue to grow and develop, ultimately allowing for more hyper-local consumer targeting and increased online spending by consumers. If you’d like to boost your digital presence, we can help.

Van West Media is a full service design, support, and consulting agency, offering comprehensive Internet marketing solutions for small to mid-size businesses.

Coming Soon: Facebook at Work

November 25, 2014

Facebook At WorkA recent article in the Financial Times suggests Facebook is currently testing a new site, Facebook at Work. But most of us are already using Facebook at work, so what gives?

Here’s what we currently know about the new platform:

  • Your Facebook for Work profile is entirely separate from your personal Facebook social account(s); there’s no cross-pollination between users’ professional and social accounts
  • It’s geared specifically to the professional realm
  • The functionality is very similar to the existing Facebook site
  • No obnoxious advertising (…yet)
  • Includes collaborative tools catered to the work environment

It’s easily understood that Facebook at Work is expected to rival existing job tools and career networks like LinkedIn, Google Docs and Microsoft. It has been reported that Facebook employees have been using this interface internally for quite some time.

We want to hear from you. Are you excited about the possibility of Facebook at Work? Will it be a distraction or will it streamline workflow? Comment below or tweet us at @vanwestmedia!

Van West Media is a full service design, support, and consulting agency, offering comprehensive Internet marketing solutions for small to mid-size businesses.

Forget the ads. Hello, Ello!

October 9, 2014


Flashback to circa 2006: before your Facebook feed was drowning in advertisements, before you were a data tool – you were a person on a social network for the sole purpose of maintaining relationships.

Over the years, Facebook seems to have (literally) sold out. Now a publicly traded company, profit must be made, thus ads and target marketing have taken over the Facebook platform, among others.

Flash forward to 2014: we’ve been presented with Ello – a free and ad-free social networking platform – that truly reflects the initial purpose of connecting online. Here are our top five reasons to say, “Hello!” to Ello.

  1. Ello is clean, simple and uncluttered.
  2. Your personal information remains personal.
  3. Ello is invitation-only, as it’s still in Beta mode.
  4. Say goodbye to the hashtag; this feature is not part of Ello.
  5. The Ello manifesto is pretty much the greatest thing we’ve seen in a long time.

Weigh in! How do you feel about Ello? Will it hold its own against established social platforms?

Van West Media is a full service design, support, and consulting agency, offering comprehensive Internet marketing solutions for small to mid-size businesses.

Don’t Forget About Second Screen Superbowl

January 31, 2014

As Superbowl XLVIII is approaching this weekend, everyone will gather in clusters of family and friends to watch the big game and advertisers who got commercial slots are ready to display their million dollar ads. However, those who don’t have the financial backup to join in don’t have to worry about missing out.

There are some who sit during the entirely of the game and watch all of the commercials but most are more practical than that. There are bathroom breaks, food breaks and alcohol breaks where people get up and what most people don’t leave behind is their cell phone. In this age, almost everyone has a smartphone; even those who haven’t even reached their teenage years. With the need to constantly socialize, smartphones bring everyone together through social media and texting. Because of this, advertising on social media is the most affective form of advertising.

Commercials may only have a mere 30 seconds for an ad campaign, but there are always links as well as hashtags and handles that are presented at the end to keep their viewer’s interest and stay connected with them after the commercial has passed. You don’t need to have a million dollar commercial to do this. Place your ads straight to social media and you may even be ahead of those who invested millions in commercials. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter now all have integrated ads in users feeds, which makes marketers’ lives easier.

There are commercials that can be missed, but if your ad is placed in a social media feed, it is less likely to be. People are constantly scrolling through their feed, reading all of their friend’s statuses or looking at their pictures and videos. The integration is great, because your ad is camouflaged with all of the other content. People will see your image or video or read your status before even realizing that it’s an ad. From there, they can decide whether or not to follow the link provided but you have already taken that first step. This introduction is more likely to receive feedback because your information is already presented to your viewer and they have already taken it in.

Take advantage of these opportunities as people are always constantly checking their phones. They might even be checking their phone while sitting in front of the television instead of watching the commercials. Some even update their statuses with play-by-plays or complain or cheer during the game. A smartphone is the second screen of the Superbowl and you need to take advantage of these marketing opportunities to reach out to your audience.

Viral Video Lessons For Superbowl Ads

January 23, 2014

Superbowl ads have been increasing in price drastically each year. With the hefty price each company is paying to grasp a 30 second ad, going viral through your digital campaign to make the decision worthwhile is your highest priority. Looking back on the winning strategies in the past years and analyzing what makes them successful will improve your marketing chances greatly.

Longer commercials are making their way through this generation so you can tell more of your story. The average length of top 10 ads in the past few years have been increasing. In 2013, brands such as ChipotleWestJet, and Dove each ran commercials that were over three minutes and each have generated between 470,000 and 4.24 million online shares. Your audience is willing to sit and watch a longer commercial, giving you more of an advantage. During the Superbowl, you have the ability to tell more in your ads to such a large audience size and it’s important to take advantage of that. Everyone knows Superbowl ads are the most expensive ads of the year and expect to be either entertained or moved with the money you are investing. Give your audience what they want and make sure it’s memorable.

Tease the people and they’ll keep coming back for more. Teasers are so easy to spread through social media as it is quick and grasps your audience’s attention easily. Last year, seven commercial ads were supported by teasers released previously. Dior posted teasers exclusively on Twitter and other social media networks over the course of a day. The hashtag, like and share activity helped generate buzz about their upcoming product line. This year, HBO’s hit series Girls used social media to their advantage as well. With their constant teaser tweets, Instagram posts and even Snapchats, they pumped up their audience base and was able to reach an all-time high viewership at 1.1 million for the season 3 premiere episode.

It’s not just the money that buys the Superbowl ads that makes them successful. Yes, it gives them the first few steps to make it out there for the audience to see, but there is still competition. Use your efforts to expand and grow digitally through social media and make a long, meaningful ad to remain memorable. Whether it is through going viral on the internet or making your audience laugh until they cry, the Superbowl ads are the highlight of commercialism that your audience is willing to take it all in. Give them the best of what you have and put forth efforts to constantly market it and you will gain success.