Gartner – Secret to Social Commerce Success: Infomercials

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Who is the poster child for social commerce; the business that best represents the synergy of sharing and selling?

Ask authoritative business analysts Gartner and the answer may surprise you. Not a Valley startup, but a dinosaur from the 1980s – direct response TV home shopping channels – QVC and Home Shopping Network.  Huh?  Gartner’s logic is that these informercial channels understood how to turn broadcast media into sales media with three simple steps;

  1. Keep it simple and sell one thing at a time; focus on selling something that addresses a common need (and demos well), typically something that makes people look or feel better (smarter, prettier, slimmer, healthier)
  2. Sell conversationally using celebrity; not a mega-star but a minor celebrity with whom people can identify (what psychologists call ‘differential identification’ – not a remote Hollywood star) and sell with a sidekick – playing the role of their/your neighbour with whom are shared shareable reasons to recommend (including a must-have deal)
  3. Use social proof/social validation (it worked for me/my children)

It’s a simple tried and tested formula, and according to Allen Weiner from Garnter, social commerce businesses would do well to take inspiration from this direct response TV formula.  “It’s social, but not as we know it Jim” – it’s about people recommending to people in an informercial, using social proof and social status.  We like it.

Gartner’s recommendations fit like a glove with recommendations from The Social Commerce Handbook: 20 Secrets for Turning Social Media into Social Sales (Simplicity, Celebrity + Social Proof), but we didn’t make the connection with direct response / Home Shopping TV. It’s a smart connection.  YouTube and Facebook as infomercial channels anyone?
So we hereby coin a new term; is the future of social commerce the social infomercial?

About the author

Paul Marsden

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

3 comments

  • Paul. I agree absolutely!! Especially the 3rd point- “use social proof”. Thats the most important element of Social Commerce. Where in people,the customer trusts, share their testimonies. I have seen on TV, actors pretending to be patients, students etc who have been benefited by xyz products & medicines but that’s not what a customer would be able to connect with. He would want his own social network to vouch for and ‘prove’ the product he wishes to buy. That is where social media plays a role. Great article!!!

  • Paul:

    I can see this being used to casually introduce a complex solution in a context the buyer can understand. The other benefit here is the additional notoriety each brand receives by associating with the other. In B2B, if I am a well-known brand, my celebrity might be a customer generally known in the community who is just like the prospect – that customer gains reach by using my brand.

By Paul Marsden

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Paul Marsden

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.