Social Commerce and Your Piece of Its $30 Billion Future

image2 300x207 Social Commerce and Your Piece of Its $30 Billion FutureResearch shows that social commerce will reach $30 billion by 2016. According to Gartner, that means that brands will generate 50 percent of their Web sales through social media and mobile platforms. They estimate that $5 billion is spent now.

That’s a big growth curve, but what does it really mean? My friend and colleague, Francisco Rosales of SocialMouths, did a post entitled Are We Ready for Social Commerce and offered some great suggestions. SocialMouths also cites some new points from an infographic from Argyle Social, a social media marketing firm, and the results point to strength in the small business approach to marketing and sales which I’ll elaborate on later.

  1. Audience size doesn’t always translate into more revenue.
  2. Only 17 percent of the brands included in the study feature products and four percent have integrated Facebook checkout features.
  3. Brands are not asking for a sale. Forty-nine percent never include calls to action in Twitter messages. 44 percent on Facebook.
  4. Only 29 percent include special offers/deals on posts.
  5. 65 percent of the brands only share their own content.

Here’s my take.

1. SBOs know how to build real, lasting relationships—focus on that

Admittedly, small retailers struggle to keep up with the big box stores and online retailers who offer free shipping and other deals, but there are ways to counter this situation. I’m not saying it is easy, but it is possible. The main point in these studies: Be active, but be helpful with what you share. Don’t make it all about you. When the time is right, ask for the sale.

2. Social is only a channel

There is a marketing maxim: The right message to the right person at the right time. Social media does not offer any additional power to make all three happen than any other channel. I understand the marketing logic that says people buy based on recommendations and referrals, but that cannot and is not always true—or only a handful of companies would dominate everything.

This is obvious, but often not stated amidst the hyping: People will buy when and where they want to. Sometimes that is online; sometimes in a physical store. Social commerce is not going to change the world completely, at least not now.

3. Don’t neglect search engine marketing because it still works

Do it on a limited basis and test, test, test.

4. Security is one of the biggest issues across demographic categories by shopper

This has been proven in a variety of real-world research results. People want to feel extra comfortable before giving their credit card online or via a mobile device. Tune into security options like Verisign, TRUSTe and services like KikScore.

I haven’t seen anyone ask this question in the research studies, but here it is: How often do you really, really want to know if your friend also bought that item? My guess is not very often. We’re not proverbial sheep. I don’t check in with my friends when I need to buy something from Home Depot or Walmart or my favorite local markets. I simply go buy it or search for information, then go buy it.

Courtesy – Open Forum

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