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.
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.
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.