Wednesday 05 March, 2014
Social commerce, or s-ecommerce as it’s coming to be called, is a new dynamic that ecommerce businesses have to embrace. It’s the way electronic commerce is heading.
Social commerce refers to a situation where companies reach their audience through online social interaction and audience members contribute in some way to the company’s products or services.
To put it more simply, social commerce means using social networking to sell.
No More Top-Down
If you look at the traditional sales model, it’s top-down. People come into a store, they consider the store’s offerings, and then they either buy or don’t buy what they like. Companies can get customers’ input by conducting surveys or focus groups, or through interactions at point of sale.
Basic ecommerce didn’t change this very much. There was some room for more input from customers and the personal touch at point of sale was lost, but it was pretty much the same.
Social ecommerce is radically different because you’re on an equal playing field. When you connect with customers on social media, that’s what you’re doing – connecting. You’re no longer broadcasting your marketing message to them, but rather engaging on equal ground with them through conversation and discussion.
Reaching Your Customers on Social Media
The first step in social commerce is to create social media profiles and reach your customers on social networks. Almost everyone knows Facebook and Twitter and many of us use them in our daily life. You probably know that they have services for businesses.
There are also social networks beyond the big ones. If your company is B2B, you can benefit from using LinkedIn. For certain industries, visually-oriented sites like Pinterest offer ways to engage customers. Don’t forget that blogs, review sites and video sharing sites are also forms of social media.
Getting Your Audience Engaged
Once you find your audience on social media, the next step is to engage them. This is important. You’re not supposed to promote on social media. This is simply because users don’t like it. This means you have to radically change your approach from traditional marketing.
The purpose isn’t to sell but to build a relationship. The goal is to interact with customers, provide useful content and engage. The selling comes later in the back-end when they realize they can use the products and services you offer. This is a kind of pay it forward situation where you focus on relationship building first and selling later.
The Power of Observation
To be successful at social commerce, you have to understand how your customers use social media to shop. They don’t go there to click and buy directly. They go there to get recommendations from friends or other information that informs buying decisions.
You sell on social media by simply being there and staying on your customers’ radar. Instead of direct sales tactics or self-promotion, focus on providing help to those who need it and giving customers things to do that involve your business, such as seeking input and feedback on how to make your products better. It’s this interaction that sells.