Thought leader and author Brian Solis has turned his razor sharp attention and digital media expertise to social commerce, updating his ubiquitous ‘conversation prism‘ infographic to include social commerce platforms (below) and penning a number of incisive posts on the subject.  Here’s the distilled version of what he has to say…

  • Social media has given rise to the social consumer, consumers who use their social stream and social graph to seek shopping advice and guide purchase decisions
    • In the 2010 Social Media Report, ForeSee observed that 60% of online shoppers already use social media sites and networks regularly. And, 56% of those online shoppers friend or follow retailers (but only one-quarter of the top 100 e-tailers had yet to create a Facebook page)
    • ComScore found Twitter and Facebook users to spend more than 1.5x more online than the average Internet user
    • In Feb 2010, research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey along with iModerate Research Technologies found that after connecting to brands on Facebook 51% of people were more likely to buy and 60% more likely to recommend (67% more likely to buy,  79% more likely to recommend after connecting on Twitter)
  • Recognition and empowerment represent the social sparks that can help businesses not only socialize their brands but now also activate social consumers
  • Understanding the social consumer involves not only understanding what will capture their attention, but also requires an understanding of what motivates them to click, act, and share
    • The social consumer is not motivated by the clever gimmicks nor are they inspired to seek out your presence within social networks – attention is a precious commodity and these individuals require direct engagement that recognizes their stature in the social web and rewards them for it
  • The rise of the social consumer effectively adds a fifth C to the 4Cs of Community (content, conversation, connection, continuity) and [Social] Commerce
  • Facebook as a social utility, as opposed to simply a social networking platform, is an e-commerce enabled platform for engaging the social consumer allowing businesses to add a social layer to their organization and products – creating new social touchpoints – share, like, add, comment and buy
    • “If Twitter is your window to relevance, Facebook is your focal point for the social web”
    • With over 500 million active users, 70% outside the US, Facebook is by far one of the most important networks in the world. 5o% of those active users log on to Facebook in any given day
      • The average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events, creates 90 pieces of content (social objects) each month, and maintains a social graph of on average 130 people
      • Facebook is a mobile platform – and has more mobile users than Twitter has in its overall user base – and mobile FacebookFacebook users
  • In adding a social layer to marketing, Facebook adds a 5th P to the 4Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) – ‘People‘, where the modus operandi is not about presence but about relationships
  • The top 10 brands on Facebook today host over 100 million “Likes” on Facebook
      • 1. Starbucks – 16 million
      • 2. Coca-Cola – 15 million
      • 3. Oreo – 12 million
      • 4. Skittles – 11.5 million
      • 5. Red Bull – 10.2 million
      • 6. Victoria’s Secret – 8.4 million
      • 7. Disney – 8.3 million
      • 8. Converse All Star – 7.3 million
      • 9. iTunes – 7 million
      • 10. Windows Live Messenger – 6.8 million
  • Facebook “Likes” are a form of social currency and contribute to the overall social capital earned by a brand within Facebook.  The switch from “Fans” to “Likes” removed the notion of hierarchical relationship between brands and users – and democratized it to that of flat P2P relationship of equals
  • F-commerce, “the ability to execute transactions in Facebook without leaving the network or leveraging the open graph by integrating Facebook into traditional site-based e-commerce platforms” is an example of this fifth C – and an important platform to engage and activate the social consumer
    • Levi’s “Friends Store” is an example of onsite f-commerce that harnesses peer influence in an online shopping environment
    • The reason to offer f-commerce within Facebook (through e-commerce Facebook Tab applications) such as 1800 Flowers is to fish where the fish are – the attention of the social consumer comes at a premium, so bring your touchpoint to the social consumer
    • Another example of f-commerce is Walmart’s Groupon-inspired  Crowd Saver leverages the power of group buying to reward consumers with exclusive deals – a minimum number of Likes are needed to unlock the deal (available on the main e-commerce website).
      • Crowd Saver acts as a social object. With each like, the potential offer is spread to the News Feeds of every corresponding social graph, thus increasing its reach, appeal, and the visibility of the brand overall
  • For the social consumer, is is not enough to be present in Facebook, you need to offer something “Like”able that stands out from in the social stream; the social consumer’s attention comes at a premium
    • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
    • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared on Facebook each month
    • YouTube serves over 9B streams per month
    • More than 100 million Tweets fly across Twitter every day
  • P&G captured attention with a Facebook store that offer consumers two key things they say they want in the social space – access to exclusive products and rewards or discounts as a benefit of the connection.  On the Pantene f-store, people could purchase products before they were introduced in stores
    • Apart from being a customer of the brand, the main reasons why people connect on Facebook are to receive discounts and promotions, and show others personal support of the brand
  • ALT-TAB, the command used to shift windows, is a metaphor for Facebook tabs, with each tab offering a discrete page and dedicated engagement opportunity to appeal to the social consumer. Usefully, each tab can be assigned to be a landing page for a particular campaign.
    • For example, Dunkin Donuts uses Tabs to offer promotional contests (“Ultimate DD Coffee Fan Contest”), promotional applications (customize messages to send to friends), and its loyalty program
  • Ford has become a poster-child for Facebook marketing, officially announcing its new Explorer models exclusively on Facebook rather than via a traditional industry auto show – using a Facebook tab that acted as a social epicenter for the launch.  This Facebook-based Reveal campaign, according to Ford, outperformed a Super Bowl in terms of reach, presence, and activity for a fraction of the price
  • Don’t ignore Facebook ads, in the mix – they can be very effective – when you have a clear understanding of the people you’re trying to reach and what compels them to click.  One strategy is to target the people you want to “Like” you, not those who already have.
  • Two useful Facebook marketing conversion metrics are C2L (clicks to likes) and L2A (likes to action)
  • Starbucks is a leader in the field of Facebook marketing (top 10 “Liked” brand, with 16m+ Likes) based around a 4 point plan
      • 1. Create a unique experience that appeals to a variety of social consumers
      • 2. Advertise to increase Likes, engagements, and actions
      • 3. Maintain an active editorial and programming calendar that earns Likes and fosters and rewards engagement
      • 4. Engage!
  • It’s not e-commerce or f-commerce, it’s both – traditional e-commerce for the traditional consumer – and f-commerce for the social consumer
  • In summary, Facebook provides a powerful platform to host lively branded hubs to connect with social consumers, and allow them to connect with each other