This 8 word bastardization of the U2 song describes the way people will buy in the next five years. Social media accounts for nearly 10% of all traffic referral on the US internet, according to Shareholic, or about half the size of direct navigation and this share will only increase.

First wave of “social” ecommerce

Social selling has been a challenge for most retailers who have shoehorned existing commerce experiences into social media without success. For example, Delta injects a purchasing widget into a feed.

Transaction elements in a social environment without context or a relationship feel unnatural and forced.

Rather than foisting a checkout screen at users, successful social selling demands a long-term strategy and engagement tactics.

Social selling begins much earlier in the conversion funnel than traditional retailing. It begins by cultivating a community of people who share commercial content or interests and regarding these relationships as long term, not fleeting. Building these relationships takes more time than simply purchasing an impression for a user who has typed a query into Google.

But the investment is worth it. ThredUp has built a Facebook community of tens of thousands of moms who chat about their kids, clothes and eventually clothes on ThredUp. ThredUp’s community provides a powerful marketing channel, customer service channel and market research channel – all for free.

ThredUp’s community on Facebook

Today, communities like ThredUp don’t enable commerce within in the community. While coupons and offers might circulate, a checkout screen feels out of place, like a whipping out a cash register at a party.

Instead, successful ecommerce within communities will arrive when transactions are initiated in a way intrinsic to the platform. It could be friends selling friends, replicating the TupperWare and Avon direct sales models that have been so successful offline. It could be through social triggers like birthdays – Karma and Wrapp used this to encourage gift purchasing. Or something altogether different.

But it’s coming.


3 thoughts on “Tweet Me. Like Me. Love Me. Buy Me.

  1. This is one of the best analysis of social commerce dynamics. Social discovery and social engagement will always precede and are key to successful social commerce. Social commerce succeeds when you are able to mimick the offline buying behaviour and translate it into an online experience. Hence every element of the product must replicate this. IMHO e-commerce will have to evolve in to social commerce to sustain and continue.

    • Thanks, Kulin. I think there will always be a place for standalone ecommerce sites, but the socially enabled ecommerce sites should grow faster and have better margins.

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