Social media marketing: Why fuss over social commerce?

Wednesday 17th, July 2013 ,

Social media marketing: Why fuss over social commerce?Social media marketing is constantly evolving with marketers finding new ways to make it benefit their businesses. Here’s how social commerce is touted to help organizations.

Humans have come a long way from the days when every transaction was made through visits to brick-and-mortar stores. Significant numbers of purchases are now driven by the digital medium and commerce has essentially become ‘social’. Social networking sites have evolved from being mere options to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances to mediums based on which businesses are built.

Social commerce is a fairly recent development in the vast canvas of social media marketing that is capturing the fancy of marketers and e-commerce establishments everywhere. To quote Paul Marsden, social commerce is about ‘connecting people where they buy and helping people buy where they connect’. Marsden also goes on to explain the innate human tendencies that are central to the premise of social commerce. They include

  • The human tendency to follow what others do
  • Trusting expert opinion/authority
  • Valuing what is perceived to be scarce
  • Tendency to agree with people one admires
  • Tendency to consistently choose similar options
  • Tendency to reciprocate favors

Considering the traits described above, it is no surprise that marketers have begun warming up to the social medium to drive purchases. After all, individuals are now more ‘human’ and more ‘connected’ on social networks today rather than in real life owing to the paucity of time.

Formats of social commerce:

Since its recent inception, social commerce now encompasses the following different formats (Source: Mashable).

  1. Peer-to-peer sales platforms:
    These community-based platforms encourage users to influence other users to purchase products and services. Examples of peer-to-peer sales platforms include eBay, Amazon marketplace etc.
  2. Social network-driven sales:
    Popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest facilitate the ability to make purchases on the networks themselves.
  3. Group buying:
    Sales that are made at discounted rates if enough number of people agree to purchase the product (i.e. group purchases).
  4. Peer recommendations:
    Commerce sites that encourage peer reviews, sharing and suggest purchases based on friends’ purchase histories. The most prominent example here being Amazon.
  5. User-curated shopping
    Websites where shoppers can create as well as share shopping lists which can then benefit other users as well.
  6. Participatory commerce
    Here the consumers are directly involved in the production whether it is in the ideation, designing or funding stage.
  7. Social shopping
    These sites simulate a real world shopping experience with the help of chat options and forums to keep users connected to each other

Knowing what social commerce is about is all well and good. But how does one go about drawing up a strategy to employ social commerce in one’s organization? Read the next part in this series to find out.

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