Social media marketing represents a way to develop a rapport with your target audience. But in order to develop a rapport you have to first start a conversation. Fortunately, growing numbers of consumers not only are capable of initiating conversations on social media, but actually prefer it to other forms of conversation. Where those consumers are concerned, an ecommerce company makes significant progress toward regular interaction simply by making its social accounts available to the public.

Of course, that availability has to be effectively communicated. For the sake of your social media marketing, you need to be constantly reaching out to the people who use Twitter or Facebook or Instagram as their first point of contact with friends and acquaintances, as well as with companies and professional partners. At a minimum, this means giving an equally prominent place on your website to your social media links as you do to your contact form, email address, or phone number.

Beyond that, you might consider creating a tighter overlap between your social media marketing campaign and your search engine optimization. That is to say, instead of just using SEO to drive traffic to your website, you could try to make certain types of search queries lead directly to your social media accounts. Of course, the details of those queries will depend on the insight that your web services provider can provide you through available data. But if you can pin down which kinds of searches are being conducted by people for whom social media is an everyday communication tool, it might be wise to let them skip over your website altogether.

This isn’t meant to diminish the importance of your website at all. But regular interaction between a company and its consumers isn’t usually mediated through a website unless it’s something really unique. It’s more likely that some consumers will arrive at your website via an initial search query and then find their way to your social media accounts if they wish to keep up with the company or interact with it outside of the context of transactions. They may find themselves going back to the site to find direct contact information in the case of a customer service issue, but if they have the sense they can already contact you on social media, they don’t have to.

Both options should certainly continue to exist for the consumer. But since social media marketing thrives on regular engagement with the public, you’re actually doing yourself a service every time you field a question, comment, or complaint through your social media accounts. Not only does it demonstrate your attentiveness to everyone who is privy to that content, but it also helps to encourage your followers to make a habit of reaching out to you.

Naturally, those interactions won’t always be positive. This is true in any customer service situation and even truer on the internet. Nevertheless, regular outreach from customers is a sure sign that your social media marketing has been effective. It’s also a source of valuable customer data which can make an existing campaign more effective still.