Social ecommerceBy now, you may have heard quite a bit of buzz about social media marketing, but reaching out to potential customers through social media is much more than that. The truth is that social media is attracting more Internet users than ever before. As of March 2011, Twitter had 75 million users, LinkedIn had 50 million worldwide members, and Facebook had more than 350 global users that actively visited the website.

Other marketing efforts like SEO and PPC can be very lucrative for an e-commerce business owner, and they do have their time and place. But you can also boost the results that you are already getting with your online marketing strategy by getting to know your customers even further through social media. And the best part of all is that it is completely free.

It does take a little strategizing before you jump into the conversation look for key conversations to participate in and industry influencers you want reach out to. The above is especially true for  Twitter which is the best social platform for connecting with experts, and also interested customers in real time.

As opinions and thoughts are being shared in realtime, Twitter as an excellent form of free market research. Insead of scouring the web for in-depth keyword research, use Twitter to gain insight into your customers and their preferences.Plug in a few of your keywords into the Twitter search tool to see what people are really talking about. And you can also join in the conversation by replying, answering questions, and providing valuable information.

When you are able to reach out to your customers personally, customers will want to connect and will appreciate the effort your company goes to reach users. Your personalized outreach is more memorable than a banner ad and  your community will have your products at the forefront of their minds.

Bethany Ramos is an expert in Internet and social media marketing, and she also co-owns her own e-commerce website,The Coffee Bump.