As social media strategists and specialists we spend a great deal of our time speaking to people about the benefits of social media in today’s terms. We talk about return on investment (ad infinitum), engagement, authenticity, transparency, 2 way communication, social media vs marketing etc.

Very soon that conversation is going to evolve and it’s going to do it in the blink of an eye. It’s happening already.

The new arm of social media is social commerce and you can bet your donkey (insert synonym here) that if you’re not addressing social commerce now you are doing your clients a disservice.

For years we’ve all been going on and on about the power of the internet to reach people. Recently this awesome social media phenomenon has caused us all to get a glimpse at that power first-hand. When you look at examples of how “the little guy” has taken on huge corporations and won through the use of social media like youtube, you start to see just how powerful this tool is.

Take Dave Carroll for example. Dave is a musician and a pretty good one. While on a flight from Halifax to Nebraska with a stop at Chicago’s O’Hare, Dave noticed the baggage handlers were tossing his Taylor guitar around. Let’s just say Dave was pissed. So much so, after receiving no satisfaction from customer “service”, that he wrote a song. A song that has received international acclaim and over 10 million hits!

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!

Because of stories like this, every single social media service is trying to figure out a way to capture these 10 million eyeballs and sell them something. We’re calling that Social Commerce now. It’s the new black.

The trick is that all those marketing people with “20 years experience” have to forget everything they know about marketing. They have to forget to try to sell something and have to learn how to engage someone. (See what I did there? I went from a “thing” to a “one”. If you’re starting to see a pattern, whew!)

I was watching Erik Qualman recently. He’s a pretty smart guy and he’s a few steps ahead of the rest of us when it comes to this social commerce stuff.  He points out that we, as humans, have our hierarchy of needs (he didn’t make that up, it’s a real thing 😉 Survival, Security and Socialization top the list.

We’re social. 78% of us will believe the recommendation of a friend. We’d rather have our friends do the market research and just tell us what the best product is. (maybe we’re also a bit lazy?) Anyway, having a pal tell us what they love about a product or service holds infinitely more weight than a billboard.

I’m sure you’ve seen the little QR Code symbols on everything lately. In some cases you can scan that code with your smart phone and see how many of your friends bought that product and what they think of it. Think of it as targeted (to your friends) market research. How cool is that?

It’s great. There’s no question. However, businesses who decide to use this technology have to be pretty dang sure that they have a firm grip on their brand both online and off.

Social media strategists and specialists are going to have be very careful in how they introduce social commerce to their clients. As with social media, there are tons of ways to mess it up. (ask United airlines)

So while social commerce is coming, and coming at break-neck speed, don’t fall into the frenzy that has given social media some bad press. This is where strategic thinking, research and an iron-clad grip on the value proposition of the company and their customer service is going to be key.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be researching some of the best, and worst, social commerce engagement examples. Stay tuned!

Written by jax