Simple Definition of Social Commerce (with Word Cloud & Definitive Definition List) Updated Jan 2011


Social Commerce is a buzzword and it’s hot lexical real estate, evoking a fusion of two big digital trends of “social media” and “e-commerce”.

As a result, social commerce means different things to different people (see list below), and it’s been the target of a number definitional land-grabs by businesses seeking to define the term based on what they sell.

So here’s a no-vested-interests inclusive word cloud definition of “social commerce” that we created (with the wondrous Wordle).  We simply took 18 top definitions of social commerce and threw them together into Wordle, and this is the result; (word size proportional to word frequency)

click image to enlarge

click to download

Okay, so you can’t use the word cloud definition of social commerce as your elevator pitch definition, but exploring the cloud provides a conceptual understanding of social commerce and its key themes (don’t want to go all Wittgenstein on you, but idea clouds approximate to how our minds store concepts).  The social commerce cloud is also a potentially useful creative stimulus in thinking about how to deploy social commerce.

Based on the word cloud we’ve come up with a simple inclusive definition of social commerce.

Social Commerce: A subset of electronic 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.

Or the cocktail party version:

Selling with social media – the use of social technologies in the context of retail

[Update] As the above definition denotes, the concept of social commerce has been expanded beyond e-commerce to include the use of social technologies in the context of retail – whether online or in-store.

Examples of social commerce include user ratings and reviews, user recommendations and referrals, social shopping (sharing the act of online shopping together), user forums and communities, social media optimization (for e-commerce), and social applications and social ads linked to e-commerce.

And hey, if you don’t like this inclusive definition of social commerce, you can always pick one from the timeline list of definitions below!

  • Definition 1: David Beach(Yahoo) (November 14, 2005)
    • Social Commerce: The Shoposphere and Pick Lists are examples of social commerce. We believe the community of shoppers is one of the best sources for product information and advice
  • Definition 2: Dave Beisel(Venrock) (December 6, 2005)
    • Social Commerce: Subset of “advertorial content”, where content is the advertising… generated by a friend [wishlists… giftlists… picklists… tags… recommendations]… to provide consumers with rich social context and relevancy to the purchases which they are making
  • Definition 3: Steve Rubel(Edelman) (December 23, 2005)
    • Social Commerce: Creating places where people can collaborate online, get advice from trusted individuals, find goods and services and then purchase them.
  • Definition 4: Dave Beisel(Venrock) (November 1, 2006)
    • Social Commerce: Social input in online shopping services [that] augments the experience [c.f Social shopping: Sharing the act of shopping itself with others; …a subset of social commerce as a whole]
  • Definition 5: Ken Goldstein(Shop.com) (December 2006)
    • Social Commerce: Creating new and more meaningful ways for retailers to interact with customers [through] search, communication and community
  • Definition 6: Sam Decker(Bazaarvoice) (June 2007)
    • Social commerce: Strategy of connecting customers to customers online and leveraging those connections for commercial purpose
  • Definition 7: Linus Gregoriadis(eConsultancy) (August 2, 2007)
    • Social Commerce: Customers having the means to interact with one another in order to make better buying decisions.
  • Definition 8: Lee Raito(LeeRaito.com) (August 11th, 2007)
    • Social Commerce: A trusted environment where friends, family and acquaintances dynamically contribute content to the referral and sale of goods and services though positive and negative feedback, reviews, ratings and testimonials regarding their experiences past & present. In short, social commerce is a trusted environment of which prospective consumers make buying decisions based on the advice of a network of friends and family, not strangers they don’t know or trust.
  • Definition 9: Wikipedia(September 27, 2007 version)
    • Social commerce: Subset of e-commerce in which the active participation of customers and their personal relationships are at the forefront.
  • Definition 10: Jay Deragon(Social Media Directions) January 2008
    • Social Commerce: Conduct[ing] commerce using social networks
  • Definition 11: Brendan Gibbons(Practical eCommerce) May 2008
    • Social Commerce: Monetizing social media sites…applications transform[ing] a profile page on a social network into an online store, complete with payment processing.
  • Definition 12: Craig Agranoff(Scommerce) (September 2008)
    • Social commerce: Buying and selling stuff online with friends helping
  • Definition 13: Andrew Stephen and Olivier Toubia(Columbia / INSEAD) (September 2008)
    • Social commerce: Emerging trend in which sellers are connected in online social networks, and where sellers are individuals instead of firms. [The distinction between social shopping and social commerce is that while social shopping connects customers, social commerce connects sellers].
  • Definition 14: Jeremiah Owyang(Forrester) (April 2009)
    • Social Commerce: [The Fifth Era of Social Media]: Brands will serve community interests and grow based on community advocacy as users continue to drive innovation in this direction.
  • Definition 15: Paul Dunay(Avaya) (October 2009)
    • Social commerce: Working with or using your social graph, which is defined as your followers or your friends, and allowing them to help you make buying decisions.
  • Definition 16: Fumi Matsumoto(Allurent) (November 2009)
    • Social Commerce: Enabling consumers to browse, view, and add products to a shopping cart, within the context of a social site, like Facebook or a blog
  • Definition 17: IBM(October 2009)
    • Social Commerce: Connect and foster active participation with customers to help improve your customer experience… including ratings and reviews, blogs, micro-blogging as well as forums and communities
      • 17a Social Commerce: The concept of word of mouth in the context of e-commerce
  • Definition 18: Paul Marsden (Social Commerce Today) (November 2009 Updated)
    • Social Commerce: A subset of electronic 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.
      • Social Commerce: The use of social media in the context of e-commerce
  • Definition 19: Pierre Raiman (Sherpad) (December 2009)
    • Social Commerce rises through trusted advice in conversations and word-of-mouth among your friends and relations in social networks, blogs, and communities, helping to make shopping decisions and transactions
  • Definition 20: John Jackson(DecisionStep) (February 2010)
    • Social Commerce: The ability of two or more people to collaborate online, to share opinions and influence each other’s buying decisions
  • Definition 21: Bill Zujewski(ATG) (February 2010)
    • Social Commerce is about customers having the means to interact with one another in order to make better buying decisions
  • Definition 22: Jochen Krisch (ExcitingCommerce (cited here) (June 2010)
    • Social commerce models are ecommerce models that focus on people instead of products
  • Definition 23: Jason Weaver (Shoutlet/ LinkedIn Social Commerce Group) (Jun 2010)
    • Social Commerce: Selling with social media
  • Definition 24: Lora Cecere(Altimeter group) (Nov 2010)
    • Social commerce is the use of social technologies to connect, listen, understand, and engage to improve the shopping experience
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41 Comments

  1. […] wirklich tolle Umsetzung haben die Jungs bei SocialCommerceToday.com geleistet, indem sie aus einem Definitionskatalog von Social-Commerce-Akteuren eine Word-Cloud […]

  2. […] Go here to see the original: Simple Definition of Social Commerce (with Word Cloud & Definitive … […]

  3. November 19, 2009
    Reply

    good article as usual!

  4. […] interesting, is that 7 of the 9 cases with ROI numbers cited in the video are social commerce examples So here’s a cocktail party definition of Social Commerce: “Social commerce is […]

  5. March 6, 2010
    Reply

    Heya…my very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great stuff indeed. I also wanted to ask..is there a way to subscribe to your site via email?

  6. March 9, 2010
    Reply

    I think that without a doubt social media is changing the landscape for advertisers. Twitter, facebook, blogs, video, etc is a way to speak to consumers and not just at them.

  7. […] Simple Definition of Social Commerce (with Word Cloud & Definitive Definition List) | Social Com… […]

  8. […] On peut définir le commerce social comme faisant partie d’une sous catégorie de commerce qui inclut l’utilisation des média sociaux, l’interaction entre ses membres et les contributions des utilisateurs, afin de supporter l’achat en ligne et la vente de Produits et services. […]

  9. […] On peut définir le commerce social comme faisant partie d’une sous catégorie de commerce qui inclut l’utilisation des média sociaux, l’interaction entre ses membres et les contributions des utilisateurs, afin de supporter l’achat en ligne et la vente de Produits et services. […]

  10. […] their white paper, Social Commerce Defined, IBM snappily define social commerce as the “concept of word of mouth applied in the context of e-commerce.” […]

  11. June 10, 2010
    Reply

    My definition of Social Commerce for the Facebook platform.

    It is a dynamic online version of shopping with friends…but on the global, real-time Facebook stage. The intersection of community, commerce, social dynamics…and fun, where the influence and opinion of friends drives the transaction. A pure community referral-based economy.

  12. paulsvmarsden
    June 10, 2010
    Reply

    Thanks Arnold, solid definition – like it!

  13. […] Commerce Artikel, E-Commerce, Info, internet, Social Commerce Tinggalkan komentar Menurut SocialCommerceToday.com sudah ada 22 buah definisi yang menjelaskan tentang social commerce sampai saat ini. Mulai dari […]

  14. October 4, 2010
    Reply

    Although the definitions are varied from the perspective of different experiences, the commonality is the same and your definition summarizes it very eloquently.

  15. TY for blogging this, it was very informative and told a ton

  16. December 23, 2010
    Reply

    Of course, what a magnificent blog and enlightening posts, I definitely will bookmark your website.All the Best!

  17. […] course, we can get into arcane definitional debates as to whether there is any difference between social commerce and social shopping – but we […]

  18. […] Socialcommercetoday […]

  19. April 13, 2011
    Reply

    An interesting twist to Social Commerce Campaigns to make them work for Online Retail

    For the sake of disclosure, I work for ShopSocially, a social shopping recommendation platform. I think that a lot of retailers are not thinking outside the box about Facebook. Rather than look at Facebook as a selling channel, it may be better to use Facebook as a friend recommendation channel. Blatant selling on Facebook is considered a no-no.

    Social recommendation is the way to go, not Facebook storefronts. After the shopper finishes a purchase on a retailer site, if the shopper can be given an easy way to share the purchase with friends, that brings in real dollars.

    We are working with dozens of top retailers who are seeing 250,000+ brand impressions and 5,000+ high converting clicks every day via social recommendation. Here is an actual case study (http://bit.ly/fsdMb4) and some stats (http://bit.ly/fBDGEy). Our data shows that purchase that is shared by a shopper on Facebook is worth $3.08 to $5.56 per post to the retailer. Our retailers are seeing a 2% to 6.5% uplift in revenues. These numbers are significant. Retailers should be tapping into the social recommendation channel.

  20. […] also provides a useful insight into where the ‘social commerce’ industry (which means different things to different people) sees itself heading.  As you’d expect group-buy businesses (e.g. Groupon) and shopping […]

    • February 9, 2016
      Reply

      Begun, the great internet edaictuon has.

  21. […] definizione di Social Commerce Today: Social Commerce: a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media […]

  22. Great info. Thank you.

  23. […] Simple Definition of Social Commerce (with Word Cloud and Definitive Definition List) – Social Commerce is the new “Social Media” but what does it really mean? Check out this post to find out. […]

  24. August 16, 2011
    Reply

    I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome web site!

  25. September 1, 2011
    Reply

    Selling with social media – the use of social technologies in the context of retail .social commerce

    • January 26, 2012
      Reply

      This one gets my vote.

      2 small points I would add…

      – 1. Not just retail, any commerce
      – 2. Social Networks rather than Social Media (semantics, true, but I agree with Gary V that the term ‘media’ sends the wrong message!

  26. September 9, 2011
    Reply

    I’m usually to running a blog and i really recognize your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and hold checking for new information.

  27. […] Simple Definition of Social Commerce (with Word Cloud and Definitive Definition List) – Social Commerce is the new “Social Media” but what does it really mean? Check out this post to find out. […]

  28. […] SocialCommerceToday has a collection of defintions from industry experts. […]

  29. December 15, 2011
    Reply

    great post keep up the great work.

  30. […] vague, but the term “social commerce” was, in fact, coined by Yahoo in 2005 (here’s a good aggregate of its definitions). David Beisel states it well with this question: “What better way to advertise a product […]

  31. January 26, 2012
    Reply

    Hey guys!

    Great article. As you say, ‘hot lexical real estate’, for sure.

    I guess with any buzzword, there’s a desire to find a long, detailed, all inclusive definition but I’m a believer in letting the market define it.

    Sure, it’ll take a bit longer to gain clarity, but ultimately that clarity should then be crystal clear. Understandable to all.

    The risk we have in trying to define a nascent segment with lots of fancy words (like ‘nascent!?!?) is that we can end up making it seem so complicated that people who really should be engaging (the average buyers & sellers) tend to steer clear of it coz they don’t understand it.

    “Social Commerce? Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about it, but it sounds really complicated & I don’t have enough time to work it out.”

    For this reason, I really like the simplest & the broadest definitions. Something like…

    Social Commerce = using social networks to help you buy and sell

    Thanks again!

  32. January 29, 2012
    Reply

    There are social shopping sites, a simple objective to get the right information quickly is luboh.com it allows people to ask and tell their selected friends and also tell the world anonymously. Useful for people anywhere in the world to find how much products and services cost and where they can get them from. It also has price comparisons within a geolocation.

  33. […] in online shopping Deriving value from social commerce networks The state of social commerce Simpel definition of social commerce The future of the social web: in five eras Social media: the five year forecast Social commerce […]

  34. […] and forums, Epinions, and Buzzillions, which all rely on user-generated content. Consider some early definitions of the term: "Social input in online shopping services [that] augments the experience" (from Steve Rubel) and […]

  35. Awesome Social eCommerce really Helpful topic for us

  36. […] critiques of Molière aside, Yahoo! can lay claim to coining the term “social commerce”. Back in 2005, David Beach a product manager for ‘Yahoo! Shopping’ launched ‘Pick […]

  37. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long cokment but after I clicked submit my commennt
    didn’t appear. Grrrr… wwell I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted tto say fantastic blog!

    Here is my blog; social media Marketing services small Business

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