Social commerce is big business even though the concept is relatively new. While it might be scary to think about a new way to buy and sell, remember that social media is just another tool to promote and sell your products and services – just like your website or a store front. The interesting thing about social commerce is that often it’s immediately known to and shared with friends either before, during or after the purchase is made. This is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.
There are five types of social commerce:
1. Community driven – Social sites set up for sharing, but not necessarily about sharing purchases (like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) are good examples of a community-driven marketplace. A store outside of social media that is independent and offers chatting and sharing features to enhance the shopping experience is also community-driven social commerce.
2. Platform driven – A platform-driven site is a website that brings people together in one place to make a purchase, but individuals are doing the selling. It helps each individual create their own store and make their own sales. Sites like Etsy, deviantART and eBay fit into this type of platform-driven social commerce.
3. Group driven – This is different from community driven in that often the members of the group are not known, but they join in together to buy in bulk items for a lower cost. You’ve seen this with entities like Groupon and even Costco.
4. Peer driven – When individuals share what they’ve purchased on their networks, this is peer driven social commerce. If people see what their friends are buying, they’re more likely to buy that item.
5. User driven – Sites that allow for recommendations, voting, feedback, and creating lists of products and services the user liked are user-driven social commerce. Amazon.com has some user-generated content in the form of lists called Listmania Lists. Everyone can create one, and it will help drive sales.
There are likely to be more types of social commerce appear over time. Social commerce is still new on the playing field. It’s important to remember to see social commerce as what it is, a tool to add to your online marketing arsenal.
Regardless of what happens, today social media is a major factor in an individual’s buying choices. They rely on friends, family, and peers to help them make choices, and they can reach those friends immediately via social media in a way that is less intrusive than the old phone call method.
Brand owners who spend time on social media engaging, encouraging, and being a resource for their target audiences are seeing increased sales as payment for their time and efforts. You can join in on the excitement as easily as adding share buttons to your blog or website and participating on social media under professional profiles.
Choosing your social commerce tools will depend entirely on your target audience and where they like to “hang out” online. It’s clear that the top choices are Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, not necessarily in that order. How you monetize these experiences will also depend on your current technological set up, your budget and your resources.