Secrets to Social Commerce: Content is Still King

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend MIMA’s (Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association) Secrets Revealed: Social Media Grows Up, speaker event held at the St. Paul Science Museum. Speaker Ponara Eng, Social Commerce Strategist from 8th Bridge, delved into what’s happening in the e-commerce world and how it’s integrating with social media.

Very soon, shopping on your favorite sites will feel more like you’re on a social platform. For example: If you’re on Hallmark’s website you’ll see more social actions, beyond the “Like” button, so you can easily share what you’re browsing, purchasing, or your  review of an item. It’s an advanced way to connect and share a lot more with your friends on Facebook (if you so choose), which could influence their buying decisions.

Eng gave a brief summary of this growing trend in social commerce. “Social commerce will move beyond Facebook.com. So-called ‘f-commerce’ drove most of the stories on social shopping last year, but thanks to the new Open Graph, brands will begin to define their own social actions in an effort to influence purchase decisions wherever the customer is – the .com, mobile or tablets. Interest-graph sites like Pinterest will also gain attention as a social commerce channel.”

Here are a few of my takeaways from the meeting:

1. The real value is in the share.

What better timing for Eng to introduce his secrets than the week of Facebook’s Open Graph extensions that are all about sharing and referrals. If you’re not up to date yet on the Open Graph additions, here’s a little review. The announcement unveiled 60 new apps that will function with Facebook and let users share more of their lives on the social networking mega-site. For instance, if you watched a good movie, bought tickets for an awesome concert, or purchased a sweet jacket – now you can share all that information on Facebook. But not everyone is into that sort of lifecasting, so there’s an opt-out option on the site.

So starting now, instead of “liking” a book, you can tell friends you “read” or “own” it through Facebook’s new vocabulary of actions. But you’re not just telling your friends; you’re telling Facebook and Facebook’s vast network of advertisers and brands. This will then result in the advertisers sending you tailored messages or advertisements according to your actions.

2. Referral or word-of-mouth.

Since the Open Graph strategy will help with sharing, you and your FB friends will become more acquainted with one another’s: “Likes”, “Wants”or “Owns”, depending on the action provided. For example: let’s say I really want a flashy expensive watch I’m seeing on the Rolex website, but it costs $1,200 so it’s likely that purchase won’t happen. With these new actions, I can still express my interests or wants by clicking the social plugins, therefore spreading the word to my network. So, if I choose to click the “Wants” plugin, this product that I “want” becomes visible to all my friends which helps give it exposure and could possibly lead to a purchase. Since I clicked, the cycle begins by hitting my ticker, my friend’s ticker if they clicked “Like” to this post, and my timeline.

Here’s a short video from Facebook that shows how an action can evolve: Apps Bring Your Timeline to Life

3. What does this have to do with content?

Well, great news, content plays a substantial part in e-commerce too. According to Eng, the connection between social commerce and content marketing is huge – good copy and content prove your worth. Park and Bond is a good example of how an e-commerce site can use content. It provides fashion and how-to advice, designer interviews, and information on upcoming trends to help build relationships with visitors beyond just shopping. Bottom line is, content is still king and we’re happy to see it latch on to other current trends.

Other interesting stats:

  • E-commerce spending is up 15 percent year over year.
  • Mobile buying traffic was up 18 percent this year during the Christmas season.
  • “Like” is a post-purchase action; 57 percent of those who clicked “Like” are actual owners of a particular product.
  • Friends value recommendations – 90 percent of purchases are a result of recommendations

Before buying, I like to do my research, especially before making a costly purchase. Reading reviews or learning about new products from members of my social network does seem like a good option, particularly when it’s detailed. What do you think? Are you influenced by your social network?

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