Social Commerce – Is It the Next Big Thing?

Earlier this week, the world’s largest retailer Amazon tied-up with the most popular social-networking and microblogging site Twitter to enable customers to shop through Twitter. Once you sync up your Twitter and Amazon accounts, you will be able to see any tweet with links to Amazon products. You can then order it right away by replying to that tweet with a pre-determined hashtag #AmazonCart.

The earlier experiments combining social media and ecommerce for shopping did not see much of a success. Even analysts view social media as more of an awareness platform than for shopping. From a business perspective too, APIs like Facebook Commerce are more about giving the businesses information about their buyers such as their likes and dislikes etc.

Will this pioneering step from Amazon be a success? Well, we’ll have to wait and watch.

Current Experiments
There most common social integration strategy is where a merchant may prompt you to share your purchase on social media so that it can possibly motivate someone from your network to buy the same. Another instance is where you will be able to see a list of product recommendations which you may end up buying. Group buying and sharing information about new deals etc. are also a part of social commerce techniques. While all these utilize social media to an extent, none of them have ventured into enabling buying through a social networking platform until Amazon stepped in.

Major retailers are already on their social way and embedded their own social e-commerce tools directly into their websites. A good example of this would be the fashion retailer ASOS which has a social media forum where their customers can discuss about the latest trends in fashion. And, they have seen upward movement in their sales numbers too owing to these discussions.

Some of the most innovative use of social media we have seen is conducting live events like product launches online and enabling customers to talk among themselves and with the company through a social platform. This level of engagement is a sure win for the organization and can create the maximum buzz and brand recall.

Should you go social?
Yes, yes and yes! As we have been saying always, inclusion of a social strategy in your e-business is the right way to go about and will augment your marketing and sales strategies in many ways. It will be especially useful for engaging with your customers and more importantly improving your brand awareness through wider traffic to your site. However, having said that, it is too early to implement on a “social buying” system. It will be good to wait until a commercially viable platform comes up based on the success of the present experiments.

Do let us know if you’ve seen some innovative use of social media by businesses. We’d love to hear from you!