When Mark Zuckerburg coined the term “social graph”
to refer to the network of relationships among Facebook
users, the contest began for companies to capitalize
on how we influence each other’s buying decisions.
Emerging and established brands scrambled, and
group-purchasing and product-recommendation sites
cropped up by the hundreds hoping for a piece of the
social commerce pie. More than 50,000 Facebook stores
have popped up in the social commerce space, and their
evolution is shaping the future of online commerce.
It is the business model of social commerce that is
still a moving target. While established channels
like the Web, print catalogs and brick-and-mortar
stores struggle to formulate their social strategies,
innovative companies are turning customers into
evangelists with rewards programs, targeted
coupons and referral incentives.
Creating a comprehensive social plan may
seem challenging, but following a few key recommendations
can lead the way for an effective,
unique and sustainable commerce experience in
the social graph. The following tips will help enterprise
brands and retailers leverage social commerce
for what it is — a direct link to highly
targeted merchandising, effective and highly viral
marketing, and influencer metrics that can benefit
you and your customers.
Therefore, building an integrated social-commerce
experience using the three pillars — merchandising,
marketing and metrics — is key to
leveraging the power of social networks.
Engage fans and customers on their
terms and their turf
Engage your customers where they spend their time
— and with more than 800 million people spending 30 percent of their time on Facebook, it’s a good bet.
If your storefront appears on their Facebook page
and is recommended by a few friends, you have
leapfrogged into “trusted resource” status. Creating
in-stream purchasing within Facebook allows potential
customers to follow a simple checkout procedure
that is convenient and seamless. Facebook
application authentication paired with return-user
data can make purchasing efficient and provide insight
into your customer’s sharing activity and preferences.
Visibility in the newsfeed puts you directly
in front of targeted consumers, where they can shop
and immediately share purchase information.
Curate with custom store collections
Do you have a celebrity collection or limitedquantity
item? Develop a word-of-mouth viral
campaign or launch an exclusive promotion targeted
at your best customers. Wrapping promotions
and rewards around specific product
groupings, and building out multiple stores from
one system allows you to target specific customer
groups across multiple Facebook fan pages.
Activate social networks with new retail models
and viral promotions
Sync your Facebook storefront with your existing
ecommerce site to launch flash and group-based
promotions simultaneously. These limited-time offers,
daily deals or sneak peeks can motivate customers
to share details with their networks, which
results in more traffic to your social storefronts. Help
customers spread the word with targeted Facebook
and Twitter posts.
Enable customers to share everything
When customers share product links, promotions
and rewards, reach and effectiveness move beyond
traditional advertising and direct marketing, and
the cost-per-lead drops. Your customers can
quickly and easily pass coupons or friend deals
through short URLs that are integrated to other
actions on your platform.
Feed your fans with an active news feed
According to EdgeRank, the more you engage fans
with relevant news, offers and product tidbits, the
greater your reach through your fans’ networks.
The more relevant and consistent your stream of
activity, the more your customers will want to follow
you. And if they really like you, they’ll share
products they like and deals that are too good to
pass up. Build and keep actions inside your Facebook
storefront, creating a tightly woven web that
supports your social and commerce structure.
Encourage customers to rate, review
and share opinions
Research shows that 95 percent of consumers are
more likely to try products recommended by
friends. Incentive programs can encourage customers
to share their purchases and write reviews
about their favorite products. This is an easy way
to introduce a credible influence on purchase consideration
earlier in the funnel.
Allow curation with social wish lists
Allowing customers to create wish lists that are
personalized and shareable gives you specific insight
into their products and purchasing decisions.
With that information, you can create product collections
and promotions tailored just for them,
which they can share across their social networks.
Measure and identify social
Your best customers are your biggest evangelists,
not necessarily your biggest spenders. Measuring
the impact of social activity on actual revenue by
analyzing the effects of shared links, coupons, referrals
and rewards allows you to identify, encourage
and reward your top customers.
Reward Brand Evangelists
Reward your brand evangelists with status-based campaigns or sharable coupons and points. These programs can be simple or sophisticated depending on your products, operation and level of customer engagement. Successful programs can increase cart and transaction volume across your enterprise.
Shareable coupons make buying contagious
Create social coupons based on product, group,
category or brand, and trace their distribution
through trackable URLs. You can use social
coupons to reward customers for sharing reviews
or products and promotions, measure their effectiveness
and modify programs to promote more
Create VIP status to qualify and reward your
Validate your top influencers with rewards their
friends will also want to achieve. You can rank
high achievers on social-sharing activity, offer
badges based on store actions and referral programs,
and stratify customers according to merit.
When you offer opportunities, incentives and status
for sharing valuable rewards, more members
from your customers’ social networks will come
to you looking to obtain that kind of VIP status.
Maximizing the Three Ms
It can be unsettling to relinquish some control over
your brand and marketing to the unpredictable impulses
of your customers’ social networks. Navigating
the Web of social commerce means
maximizing your chances for spreading good conversations
and giving customers incentives and opportunities
to turn those conversations into
transactions. This is best done through incorporating
the 3Ms into your social commerce program.
1. Merchandise in the social channels where people
spend their time.
2. Fuel social conversation with engaging, viral
promotions and exclusive, curated products,
and feed consumers with opportunities to shop
and share with friends.
3. Measure, segment and reward your customers
who have the highest commerce influence score.
As social influences increasingly impact online
commerce, integrating yourself into the conversations
your customers are having is critical to your
success. Building your social-commerce strategy
around merchandising, marketing and metrics can
prepare your company to effectively capitalize on
the rapidly evolving social channel.
About the author: Matt Compton is the CEO of ShopIgniter, a social
commerce software company that helps leading
brands and retailers activate their social networks to
extend their reach and generate revenues.