One of the much discussed topics during Social Media Week New York this year was social commerce.
While in February 2011, we were talking about a few small pilot programs, the conversation in 2012 it about who is now doing it well. Think L’Oreal for their salon-based approach to professional product sales, Walmart for thinking local on Facebook and Busted Tees for turning to the Tumblr community to increase brand awareness.
Yet what exactly is social commerce? Do brands really know what social commerce really is and how it works?
1. Stores are local. Social commerce should echo that reality. Walmart, for example, has created pages for each of its individual stores, which provide local offerings and relevant content. Giving consumers the ability to connect regionally while engaging on global platforms they are used to, such as Facebook, will help drive engagement and, if combined with an effective social engagement strategy, could lead them through the funnel to future purchase.
2. Social commerce should not be an exact duplicate of your dotcom. Many brands have discovered that simply slapping an e-commerce interface onto a Facebook page does not automatically make it a social experience. Think about how you architect the full experience, how to drive awareness, engagement and ultimately action and importantly what makes your own customers tick (note – Facebook might not be somewhere they are comfortable shopping. Understand their Technographics before you ask them to do something in social).
3. Shopping and customer loyalty is for the long term. Be sure you can iterate a social commerce experience over time, it is evergreen and can hit a consumer at any point in the purchase cycle. Flash in the pans will not necessarily deliver value in the long term.
4. Engagement is still key. Consumers react well to genuine conversation online. The people and stories behind retail brands are as important as the products the brands themselves are trying to sell. Remember the core tenets of any social engagement program (content + community + influencers).
5. Listen to your customers and be prepared to tailor your social commerce experience based on the feedback you receive, good or bad. Listening is a key part of any retail environment, on and offline. Unhappy customers need to have their issues dealt with effectively, and loyal, happy customers should be rewarded, gain true value, and encouraged to share their experiences.
6. Oh, and don’t forget mobile. It might seem obvious, but mobile is the ultimate tool to give retailers a direct, location-based connection to their customers. Optimize your mobile experience to give your bricks and mortar customers social value in the right context and shopping opportunities they can only get through you – on their device.
What are your social commerce takeaways for 2012?