If you are an ecommerce entrepreneur, it is hard to deny the importance of social media to your business. Whether you have leveraged a social platform to connect with your audience, or you recognize that it is a need within your business, just about every online brand owner fits into one of these two categories.

It all started because social media gave businesses both big and small a FREE way to build an audience or access and connect with their current supporters. Where budgets or ad strategies fell short, sweat equity through online networking could fill in the gaps. And as the social platforms evolved, they became more and more efficient at helping individuals and companies strengthen those connections.

Then the platforms began to monetize and opened up paid advertising. As more and more people flocked to social networking, ad prices and effectiveness became more and more attractive to businesses. The road has been paved for the past few years, and as of right now, in this very instance we are living in the age of social media marketing.

The Natural Progression for an Amazon Seller

Most Amazon sellers that became involved in FBA with the rush of courses and how-to’s have been at it long enough to have experienced some success, and are now thinking about expanding beyond the marketplace. Selling only on Amazon is the epitome of having all your eggs in one basket, but when faced with driving your OWN traffic and getting your OWN visibility, the challenges abound.

So more and more, small brand owners are turning to social media, social ad platforms and building their own email lists. More and more we see sellers moving toward learning the ins and outs of Facebook advertising, the rise of ad agencies and the emergence of new ad platforms to accommodate the growing need.

This means, as sellers and brand owners, we’ll need to keep sharpening the saw (learning new skills). We’ll also need to embrace the technology as it becomes available. Mobile technology has been on the rise and ecommerce shopping as well as viral sharing have reached all-time highs year after year.

But all this is a perfectly natural progression for our businesses. Expanding our outreach and advertising capabilities is all part of the process of gaining visibility. Ultimately, the fundamentals are the same; visibility + conversions = sales.

What Does the Future Hold?

2017 stands poised to bring us some interesting innovations. A recent article about future predictions of social media from experts across the field shows consistent trends in what direction we’ll see things moving.

First, of the 37 predictions in the article, almost ALL of them mention something about video becoming much more prevalent. With the growing popularity of Facebook Live, Periscope and Snapchat, it’s easy to see why.

The experts also see more of a fusion between social and ecommerce (YAY!), making it ever easier for potential customers to make impulse buys from their favorite social platforms.

Finally, many predict the inevitable rise of 360 degree and VR content. This will likely give way to easier creation of augmented reality tags and other interactive technologies. As these cool features become automated and streamlined, online sellers will have a chance to bring their brands into the future.

What Does This Mean for You?

It means if you’ve been putting off building that email list; stop. It means if you’ve not allocated some of your monthly ad budget to Facebook ads; start. Get in there and begin the process of testing and getting better at running ads and refining your audience.

I’ve personally been preaching for over a year now about the importance of understanding who your avatar is, and testing to make sure your audience is who you think they are. I further predict that this year there will be NO MORE VALUABLE THING TO YOUR BUSINESS than developing accurate customer profiles. Knowing exactly who responds to your brand message and ultimately loves your products will pay dividends above and beyond anything you do on Amazon or any other ecommerce marketplace. And right now, Facebook’s advertising platform provides the best tools and metrics to that end.

Also, if you are camera shy, time to get un-camera shy. Yes, I get it, people just don’t like being on video. It can be nerve-racking and almost like public speaking. The thing is, you don’t have to be anything other than yourself on video. You don’t have to put on the professional face and speak like an announcer or anything like that. You don’t even have to do 100 takes until you get it right. Just be genuine and talk to your audience. People respond to video better than any other media and the past two years have already proven that authenticity is key. So just get out there and film yourself being….yourself.

Finally, while you should certainly listen to the experts and embrace technology, make video content, experiment with 360 and VR, play with augmented reality tags and so much more, you should also remember to ZIG while everyone else ZAGS. This is going to be the year of high tech, so consider experimenting with low tech and grassroots business building.

While everyone is running email campaigns, consider sending a physical newsletter. While everyone is looking for cool edits and cuts in their videos, consider blog posts that document each point with a simple photograph. Go door to door, call people on the phone, take polaroids. Do things the old fashion way and see where that can get you to.

In the end, just put in the work. This is what running a business is all about; creating. So create a business you love, a future you dreamed of and a vision that makes it all worthwhile.