The days of being skeptical about whether a brand needs a social presence are long gone. Commerce is now participative as much as it is pervasive. Social media platforms account for 7.72% of traffic to all retail websites, according to a study by Experian Marketing Services.
Let’s consider the participative influence of social media under two broad buckets. On the one hand, there are brands maintaining a presence on community-oriented social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. On the other, there is the relatively recent sprouting of social shopping sites like Wanelo, Spring, or Keep, which are specifically designed to provide retail inspiration through crowd-sourced content. Today, we will focus on the former.
Nowadays, the more traditional channels like Facebook are being used for more than just engaging with consumers, maintaining greater visibility, and building brand awareness. They are actually becoming strong purchasing channels. With a subscriber base in millions, platforms like Facebook. Twitter, Instagram are potent tools for brands and retailers alike.
We are now in an era of pervasive commerce, where every interaction with a consumer in the physical world or online, is an opportunity to inform, educate, and buy or sell products and services. Pervasive commerce is enabled through infinite channels. This type of retailing is consumer-centric. The actual physical store or corresponding website is no longer the only point of contact between a brand and consumer. Brands have to now go to consumers directly. They have to go where the consumer is and present them with a compelling product offer.
This is where the power of social media comes in. When the participative nature of these platforms is combined with the influence of peer recommendations, it becomes the superhero of shopping channels. It is predicted that social commerce will represent 5% of online retail revenue by 2015. According to a Bazaarvoice study, 71% of consumers change their perception of a brand after seeing the brand respond to a review. Furthermore, interestingly in the beauty category, when the number of reviews increase from 1 to 15, there is a 56% increase in orders. Consumers also view social media as a customer service channel.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which businesses are driving sales through social channels right now.
Online retail giant Amazon is leveraging Twitter’s reach by letting consumers add Amazon products links on Twitter directly to their shopping carts by replying with the hashtag #AmazonCart. What a quick and easy way to reach the consumers where they hang out.
Services like paywithatweet.com are a harbinger of what the future holds. They enable businesses to build campaigns that let consumers pay with a tweet in return for a product, song, coupon, or anything else that is being sold. What the advertiser stands to gain is tremendous viral popularity resulting in more sales and buzz. This is the future. Commerce happens anywhere and everywhere.
Marc Jacobs launched a pop-up Tweet shop for just this purpose. And the decision came out of a finding from Facebook that their Daisy fragrance was one of the top fragrances that people followed on their site. Their Tweet shop in Manhattan was hugely popular. Just last week, they opened a similar pop-up shop in London that accepts social currency. Acceptance of social currency is another marker of social media’s influential power. A supermarket in Copenhagen is also giving away products for free in lieu of reviews from customers.
Portland-based Chirpify introduced #Actiontags for TV, where if brands placed a hashtag in their TV commercial, and then consumers used it in a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram post, they would get an email with an order form, creating yet another innovative purchasing channel.
Vogue has made its Instagram feed shoppable through their LiketoKnow:It feature. When a subscriber “likes” an Instagram with an LTK link in the caption, s/he is sent an email with a link to purchase the item. This type of affiliate marketing will be ubiquitous in pervasive commerce, and not just limited to social media platforms.
Just last month, Facebook started testing a new way to generate more revenue through sales. They got rid of the gifting feature and introduced the new “Buy” button. The call-to-action button lets people click on ads and posts to buy directly from the business, with their privacy being protected at the same time. If that’s not an indicator of the growing impact of social commerce, what is?!
To conclude, we wanted to share the success story of a business that has hit the social commerce jackpot – children’s clothing brand Lolly Wolly Doodle. Based in North Carolina and started by a caring mother, the brand has turned into social commerce gold.
Their path-breaking business model includes sharing new designs on their Facebook page every day. Then they sit back and watch the orders pour in. Parents place an order on the brand’s Facebook page and Lolly Wolly Doodle goes in and scrapes the pertinent order information. Parents also get to choose what kind of customization they want done, like a monogram. Items are custom-made and shipped from the warehouse in North Carolina. Later, they analyze the demand for the designs and only remake those that were popular and discontinue the rest. Read more on their fascinating story in this article on INC.
Brandi Temple never thought that she would be this successful. And she probably wouldn’t be had it not been for social media. Anything is possible in this new age of commerce. It’s just a matter of embracing the possibilities.
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