Recently a fellow online marketer mentioned that the ecommerce community is “burnt out” on Social Media. We’ve seen the webinars and read the books. We tweet, we post, we have a Facebook page to read messages (from our Moms) and some of us even play Farmville (although few will admit to buying a virtual tractor).
In our work, most of us have been testing programs across Social Media platforms. Some retailers have dedicated Social Media roles. Some have launched onsite video studios, added YouTube Channels, Twitter campaigns and Blogs. And after all of the energy spent, few companies can point to a tangible increase in their sales and profits.
We hear from social media experts that customers don’t like to be sold to in the social arena. They want an authentic, natural conversation, a human dialog. And while no one would recommend the opposite, many of us humble retailers are a bit perplexed.
These “best practice” approaches are not unleashing sales gains for most companies. As we speak, most retailers have a 1 to 100 ratio of Facebook Fans to emailable customers (or less). And the ratio is even smaller for Twitter followers. At this rate, it is hard to see how the messaging power of these quantities of fans/followers will drive big sales. What number of messages would be required? What Conversion Rate would be required?
It’s time for us to shift our focus from Social Media to Social Commerce. ”Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services,” so sayeth Wikipedia.
So, what is working in Social Commerce? Groupon and other social promotion concepts are blazing ahead. However, the focus on deep discounts is a little dismaying to many marketers. Is it sustainable? Profitable?
Another winner is Customer Reviews, a proven and consistent social commerce tactic. Amazon seems to be slowly evolving into a social platform of its own leveraging its wealth of reviews and breadth of marketplace partners. Can reviews go beyond conversion and drive traffic?
Here’s a third! Many retailers are using Blogs and Video to improve keyword ranking in Natural Search (SEO). When a retailer contributes genuine content, consumers respond, bloggers link, search engines see links and determine that good stuff is there and rankings improve. Wow, the social web works!
However, I can’t help but be concerned about the speed of the attention shift going on with our customers. How can retailers manage the shift to Social Media as it cannibalizes time spent using proven commerce channels: Email, Paid Search, SEO, CSEs, Affiliates, etc.
Will even fewer consumers visit our websites directly in the future? ”Direct Url Entry” sales are the bedrock of an ecommerce P&L.
So, today’s question is not: What is my social media strategy? The question is: How will my brand drive social commerce? Do you, as Shop.org members, believe this would be a valuable area for added research? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Peter Leech is a long-standing Shop.org booster, member and content committee contributor. Find Peter at Ecommerce Consultant and firstname.lastname@example.org.