Developing a Social Commerce Strategy

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Last month I wrote about an emerging trend that I was following – Social Commerce.

The idea that you need to take the point of sale to wherever your customers are talking is intriguing for a number of reasons, not the least being I started a separate business that sells products into a couple of customer segments that are heavy Facebook users.

Over the past two years, we’ve focused a lot of effort on socialising how we sell and introducing social content and services into this business and specifically the ecommerce platform; the challenge going forward is whether we need to try and create a sale at the point of social. The reason I say this is that “Like”, “Poke”, “thumbs up”, or “someone like me” has become the trusted source for purchasing decisions – and into this we have to factor the Bing/Facebook alliance:

“Starting today, Bing is integrating data from your friends and social network into search results. This could include information on “likes”, reviews, photos and links from your friends into your search experience.”
The Bing/Facebook Alliance – Oct 15, 2010

As this starts to become more disruptive I’m convinced we need to in fact segment our strategy and develop a whole approach that enables commerce at the point of social. If I look at Facebook for example my thinking now isn’t that I want to be active on Facebook (through fan pages, and advertising) so as to connect and get them over to my ecommerce site; rather I want to treat Facebook as its own parallel universe – I want to contain the whole connection, engagement, and then transaction within Facebook – with the exception being subtle prompts that the fan could leave Facebook and source additional information from our other channels if they need it.

Now as I start to forumulate this strategy, it (in simple terms) includes the following considerations:

  1. Specific fan pages based on the demographic we want to target
  2. Product bundles, offers that are unique to the platform – and in saying this I don’t mean discounting (don’t get me started on Groupon) – I mean value-add, uniqueness.
  3. Facebook ads targeted across brand awareness building, special offers, feedback capture, polls etc.
  4. An ROI that might be measured across a different time period than a traditional marketing campaign.

Have I missed anything?

Finally, one question keeps coming back to me – and I have to admit I don’t know the answer to this one – Will users actually purchase on a social platform like Facebook?

Mark Parker
Mark Parker is the founder of Smart Selling, and the specialist business unit – Smart Social Media. The core aim of both businesses is to help companies become better sales organisations by utilising the ideas, tools, and practices of Sales 2. and social media.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Will users actually purchase on a social platform like Facebook?

    It is interesting that you ask this question after mentioning substantial strategic details such as “rather I want to treat Facebook as its own parallel universe” so on and so forth!

    I suppose only time could answer that question!

  2. This is a great article and although I do agree that Facebook will enable social commerce, I also believe that social commerce will go beyond Facebook. In fact, it’s already happening. Retailers are implementing social media software into their website; Thus, utilizing social media to encourage their consumers to purchae more. INgage Networks is one of the companies that is offering retailers social media software that they can incorporate into their website for social commerce.

    INgage Networks has been accommodating various social media trends, including community, crowdsourcing, and social mobile for 10+ years. Our ELAvate Community software is an online community with a full set of social media features including quick notification to your entire community as well as the ability to get your target audience talking about common interests and your brand.

  3. Thanks for the follow up comments D. This is the question I’m grappling with! Do users on Facebook have a mindset of wanting to purchase? Or is the mindset too much of being social?

    Would social commerce on Facebook turn the experience into a commercial enterprise rather than a social network?

    I agree, only time will tell

    Mark Parker
    Smart Selling
    http://www.smartselling.com

  4. Hi Allison,
    I don’t doubt that social commerce is already happening – though I would argue you’re blurring the lines between what I outlined and what is fairly common social software like your products or hundreds of others.

    The point I raise is whether we need to treat Facebook as it’s own universe and in doing so structure the buying process so that it’s contained solely inside Facebook.

    In that context, an external community might offer little value to a brand as Facebook users “might” be reluctant to leave their Facebook world to obtain recommendations or independent product information.

    Mark Parker
    Smart Selling
    http://www.smartselling.com

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