Oct 14, 2009

From Social Marketing to Social Commerce

On the Internet e-marketing is linked much more to e-commerce than marketing and commercial activities outside of the Internet.
This is even more the case with social networks.  Social marketing and social commerce often overlap each other.  If the second one is not yet come about, it is very possible that it will directly develop from the first.

Several recent contributions by reputable commentators are following the leads of both E-Marketer and WebPro News.

Chris Crum wrote on WebPro NewsBeyond Social Media Marketing to Actual E-Commerce

“We talk a lot about social media marketing – using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to market brands and drive traffic to sites.  There is no question that these can be effective tools for doing both of these things”.

But will social marketing remain limited to these two objectives?  Is it just a question of developing a fan base and then directing it to brand sites or E-commerce sites?

Chris Crum continues:

“As time goes on, it may become helpful or perhaps even necessary to use these tools for actual e-commerce.  The common thinking behind social media marketing is that you don’t want to be too sales-pitchy in your conversations, and in some ways that is still very true.  However, while social media is largely about conversations, it’s not only about conversations”.

Activity on social networks is not, strictly speaking, only built on conversations. For dozens of millions of young people and more and more adults, social networks have become a “hang out place” that have developed into mediums where one can share photos or even play between friends, on asynchronous mode . All these are social activities that continue or strike up conversations.

He adds however that people are not content with conversations only,

“They are looking for information.  They’re using social networks to help them make purchase decisions.  Sometimes this is through conversation.  Sometimes it’s as simple as being a fan of a brand’s Facebook page and receiving timely updates.”

The commercial outlet of all this social activity is logical.  It is the outcome of two symmetrical forces at work.
There is an obvious social aspect to shopping that has been part of our culture for a long time while shopping also plays an integral part in our social relations.  Take, for example, the Tupperware network that developed in 1948. 

Denise Zimmerman, president of NetPlus Marketing Inc. was actually just interviewed on this subject by E-Marketer, “Social Shopping and the Brand Experience” and talks about a natural evolution.

“If you successfully connect and make shopping valuable to the community in a way that’s easy and accessible and meets their needs, it’s a no-brainer”.

As a matter of fact, Facebook just simplified Facebook Connect implementation on web sites.  This is currently the best way to link E-commerce sites to the network which has an extremely practical advantage.

Paul Dunay, Global Managing Dir. of Services, Social Marketing Avaya, was also interviewed by E-Marketer, “The Future of Social Shopping” touching upon the practical aspect of Facebook Connect, and closing with a definition of Social commerce,

“Social commerce is working with or using your social graph, which is defined as your followers or your friends, and allowing them to help you make buying decisions.”

Facebook Connect would allow you to go to a website like Dell.com and authenticate yourself using your Facebook profile, allow your identity to be known and access friends so you could spark up a chat.  So I could say, “Hey, Jeff, I’m looking at this new fancy laptop or this netbook.  I heard you bought something.  Would you recommend this to me?”

All this, he adds, would be like virtually taking your friends shopping with you.  In order to do this, internet search will have to go through your graph of friends, and perform what Paul Dunay calls a “social search”.

However, for this concept to work, it is necessary for those in our social graph to identify their consumer skills, and even some of their purchases allowing them to become public to our friends.

Lack of privacy and  consuming information not meant to be shared creates an obvious objection to this idea.

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