Brian Solis has joined the social commerce train with an interesting post on the Rise of Social Commerce, summarizing some key facts, and discussing a forthcoming social commerce report by Lora Cecere of the Altimeter Group (which is hosting the forthcoming Rise of Social Commerce conference in Palo Alto on Oct 6/7 – discount code RSC2 for $100 off entrance).

  • 500 million Facebook denizens are plotting their social graphs.
  • 145 million Twitter users Tweet and ReTweet.
  • 3 million people are checking-in on FourSquare.
  • 23% of Twitter users follow businesses to find special deals, promotions, or sales (ComScore)
  • 14% of Twitter users reported taking to the stream to find and share product reviews and opinions (ComScore)
  • 25% of consumers connect to brands on Facebook do so to receive discounts (Chadwick Martin Bailey)

Brian gives us a preview of the concept of “enlightened engagement” developed in the Altimeter report – commerce-enhanced engagement where

Companies focus on learning to listen from multiple listening posts (internal and external), aggregating and syndicating shopper reviews, improving engagement through the use of experts and more effectively connecting like shoppers through video content. Commerce is enabled through fan pages, and the redefinition of engagement.

The idea of enlightened engagement is interesting – Brian develops his own take on the concept – but the notion of enlightened engagement brings to mind the powerful concept of “enlightened self-interest“. The essential idea in enlightened self-interest is that altruism is essentially deferred self-interest – be nice to others because they will be nice to you in return.  It’s the principle of reciprocity that is hardwired into our genes – and that formed the foundations for the evolution of cooperation, community and human virtue.  It’s also why you feel bad when someone sends you a Season’s Greeting card when you haven’t reciprocated.

But rather than enlightened engagement (engagement is arguably already enlightened), we prefer the term “enlightened commerce” – commerce that begins with giving, rather than taking.  It’s a powerful concept, that brands could profit from – ethically and commercially.