With social commerce innovation coming thick and fast, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up with the executional aspects of social commerce – who’s do what in terms of adding a social layer to retail or adding a retail layer to social…

However, execution without understanding can be like having a hammer but not knowing where to hit.  As Kurt Lewin, the founding father of social psychology famously surmised “There’s nothing so practical as good theory” (1) – because good theory guides effective action by turning knowledge into wisdom.

Good theory is accurate, useful, explanatory, evidence-based, falsifiable, broadly applicable and consistent (within itself and with other accepted theories).  It’s also what we think social commerce needs.  So we’ll be summarizing, reviewing and synthesizing some of the various theoretical frameworks for social commerce proposed by some very smart people in recent presentations and white papers.

And today, we’re starting with Syzygy’s Mark Ellis, who’s updated our theoretical framework for social commerce and presented a couple of week’s ago during Social Media Week (London).  Mark’s presentation, which is currently the most popular social commerce presentation on slideshare after just one week of being available, is embedded below – but here’s the short version:

What is Social Commerce (The Definition): Selling with social media; Social commerce is a subset of e-commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.

How Social Commerce Works (The Theory): Effective social commerce is about social influence – people influencing people in the context of retail.  We can use six principles from the social psychology of social influence to deploy social commerce solutions to stimulate sales, loyalty and advocacy: Scarcity, Affinity, Reciprocity, Popularity, Authority and Consistency

The Evidence: Scarcity (Lucky Magazine 48hr Pop-up Facebook Store), Affinity (Levi’s Friends Store), Reciprocity (Toys R Us Toyologist YouTube Reviewers), Popularity (Amazon Bestseller Recommendations (or Most Viewed), Authority (French Connection YouTique) and Consistency (MyStarbucksIdea)

The Recommendations:

  1. Experiment – Start Selling on Social Platforms
  2. Add Mobile (Sharing) into your Social Mix
  3. Implement Social Plugins (e.g. Facebook Like)
  4. Up-sell with reviews and recommendations
  5. Integrate chat so friends can shop together
  6. Make you website the social flagship
  7. Bring your offline experience online

SCT Likes: Focus on people, not technology

SCT Adds: With the rise of mobile, social commerce has broadened out from only e-commerce – it’s now the use of social media in the context of commerce – online or in-store.

(1) Lewin, K. (1951). Problems of research in social psychology. In D. Cartwright (Ed.), Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers (pp. 155-169). New York: Harper & Row. (p169)

Next up (tomorrow) – Altimeter Group’Lora Cecere and a ‘Pioneer’ framework for the rise of social commerce.