For anyone working within the word of mouth marketing industry, it’s safe to assume that discussions around ROI come around like clockwork, as clients continue to face the challenge of selling in what is still a relatively new channel to their internal stakeholders.
The good news is that the rise of social commerce – a relatively new WOM phenomenon – looks set to prove a major opportunity for brands and word of mouth marketers looking to monetise word of mouth measurably.
Marketing Week says ‘forget e-commerce; social commerce is where it’s at’ whereas Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said ‘if I had to guess social commerce is the next area to really blow up.’
So what is social commerce exactly? Well according to IBM it’s ‘the concept of word of word of mouth applied to e-commerce’. Or, put another way, social media plus shopping. Either way, it’s rapidly turning retail on its head – enabling brands to take products direct to consumers within a social context.
The premise behind social commerce is an interesting one. As a rule, people like to shop together. Together we feel that we make better shopping decisions, using what Paul Marsden calls social intelligence, based on the advice and opinions of other.
It’s fair to say that customer reviews sections on e-commerce sites are certainly nothing new, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that brands are beginning to up their game. iTunes, for example, has introduced the social network Ping with its latest software update, enabling its customers to recommend and share music with their friends.
Dell on the other hand has generated more than $8 million in sales by enabling its customers to access exclusive deals through a dedicated Twitter feed – DellOutlet – whereas Diesel Spain introduced social networking capabilities to its fitting rooms so that shoppers could upload pictures direct to their Facebook newsfeed – enabling them to share their shopping experience with their friends in real-time.
The real game-changer however is Facebook’s recent addition of its new Deals platform that will run with its mobile Places app. Facebook is by no means the first to market, but the sheer number of people who use Facebook on their mobile (more than 200 million globally and counting) suggests that this is a significant development for both big and small businesses alike.
Add all of the above to the ongoing global success of Groupon and it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re going to see an increasing number of brands turning to social commerce over the coming months as a way of engaging with their customers, whilst demonstrating tangible ROI.
(This is an updated post I wrote a couple of months back when I worked at Wildfire.)