I pride myself on being on the up-and-up when it comes to social media and Internet marketing. I should be, I blog for quite a few social/marketing/business blogs each month! But this week, I came across a topic that was unfamiliar to me. So of course, I had to delve into it further and learn about this mysterious topic.
The article that helped me to discover social commerce, or “s-ecommerce” as it is sometimes referred to, describes social commerce as new Internet retail outlets that rely on peer communication and social networks to gain sales. Gibberish? Kind of. But once you think about it, it makes sense. There were a few examples of social commerce that stood out to me in particular:
Etsy – Etsy has seen a very fast rise in a very short time. Etsy shops can be opened by anyone, and must feature original, handmade, or one of a kind products for sale, with a few exceptions such as antiques. The reason that Etsy would be considered social commerce is because it involves peer-to-peer selling. There is no advertising or marketing done outside of the Etsy home site. Yet many Etsy sellers have become wildly successful (a friend of mine has had 3,500 sales in less than 2 years).
Group Discount Services – companies like Groupon or LivingSocial would absolutely fit into the social commerce group. Most of the sales completed through this website are from social media advertising or recommendations. Again, very little outside advertising is done (i.e. TV, billboards, etc).
Business Donations – sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe allow people to help fund the pet projects of others. This is a way for those with no marketing or production budget to sell their idea and get people to donate money to start their project. They are based solely on social marketing and word of mouth. Many projects that have been started through sites like this have gone on to be immensely successful.
Social commerce is an interesting concept, and one that we should all be paying attention to. As buying power and advertising shift more and more into the social media world, focusing on social commerce as a business model is going to be important. The true impact of social media has yet to be exposed. Social commerce also encompasses things like reviews, recommendations, and newer shopping-focused sites where people can recommend products to friends and family. If you are a business owner, it’s particularly important to pay attention to the trend towards social media when it comes to purchasing power.