Analysts all agree: social media shopping and e-commerce matured to the point of widespread use by businesses over the last year.
More than $43 billion dollars was spent in online shopping environments, much of it pushed through social media networking environments.
With the onslaught of group buying platforms like Facebook Deals, Living Social and Groupon, as well as hyper-speed growth of new e-commerce platforms popping up every week, brands not participating is social commerce can’t afford not to.
“Adding social (media) features to existing e-commerce platforms and situations is the low-hanging fruit of social commerce at the moment. Studies show a clear revenue benefit,” says Paul Marsden of Social Commerce Today. “I suspect it’s something consumers are starting to expect.”
Easily said…If you’re not in the e-commerce game you WILL miss the window of opportunity and profitability.
The F-Factor: Friends are the new social currency (or are they?)
A recent study by L2 Thinktank indicated that 63% of this Under 29 market use social media to learn about brands, while over half are influenced by Facebook, blogs and other social media sites about product preferences, especially when shopping online.
The reason for this is crucial: people don’t trust business as much as they used to.
Recent statistics at social network reporting site BazaarVoice show that their friends’ opinions about products was far and away the most important indicator of whether they purchased the product or not.
Friends are trusted up to twelve times more than manufacturers when it comes to reviews of products. Social media also enables word-of-mouth advertising, meaning that if your business wants to take advantage of young people, it has to learn to use social media.
The Challenges of Using Social Media as Advertising Tool
Flexibility: Nobody wants to feel like someone is asking them to buy something on the Internet. They want to feel like they’re in charge, having fun, interacting with friends and interesting things.
This makes traditional forms of advertising, predicated upon calls to action and presentations with intent to purchase, somewhat obsolete.
Today’s online advertising and pitches must be creative. They must be innovative and interactive. People must be able to engage with the brand and form a relationship. Otherwise, viewers are often turned off.
The benefits of your brand as a Fortune 500 company – stability, longevity, global position – are almost erased by the improved flexibility, creativity of the small business brand. Above all, flexibility and creativity in advertising are what win social media campaigns.
Communication: The reason social media flourishes is because people enjoy their friends. People like to connect with other people.
For this reason, if you want to establish a strong social media strategy and presence, you have to develop a friendship model for advertising your product.
The most important part of your online marketing model is communicating, through shared interest, with your customers. This involves responding to messages, inviting their input and involving them in contests or other games.
If your customers feel, even for a moment, like you’re not trying to sell them something, you’ve done your job. “Huh,” they think. “This is fun. We’re on the same page.” This is the mindset your social commerce advertising attempts to accomplish.
Individuality and the Soft Sell: Techniques in social media are all about the art of the soft sell.
Social media branding is about appealing to people’s individuality, the feeling that both you and they “get it.”
Despite its name, social media or social media networking is experienced by the person in control at a computer screen, desirous of connection with others on his or her own terms.
Therefore, your social media marketing should be focused on elevating the consumer’s individuality and diminishing the spotlight (only to a certain extent) the product being sold. This is the reverse of traditional television advertising, which is focused on reducing the consumer’s individuality to that of “Everyman” or “Everywoman” and elevating the product’s qualities.
Platforms Achieving Social Commerce Success
Here’s a list of brands e-storm international thinks is doing social commerce well, and even excelling, in today.
Jetsetter – A private travel online community that provides members with insider access, expert knowledge, and exclusive deals on the world’s greatest vacations. Properties featured are hand-selected by the Jetsetter team of globe-trotting correspondents, and sales last five to seven days.
Gilt – A group buying platform that provides invitation-only access to highly coveted products and experiences at insider prices. Each day, Gilt offers members a curated selection of merchandise, including apparel, accessories and lifestyle items across the women’s, men’s and children’s categories.
Tory Burch Relaunched her site on the Demandware Commerce platform. Combining e-commerce with its editorial content and social media, the new site reflects the style and personality of its CEO and founder, Tory Burch, while enhancing its customers’ online shopping experience.
Dior – The luxury clothing and accessories manufacturer created a small program, available through Apple’s App Store that allowed users to send messages to one another in Dior brand lipstick. This promoted their product through a hip social media application.
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