Pepsi’s Social Commerce: Selling in Social or Selling Socially?


Post your promotions and promoted products in social media? Check.

Use social plugins on your online store?  Check.

So you’re doing social commerce, selling with social technology?

Don’t be too fast to check that last box and think you have all the bases covered.

Over at Business2Community, Robin Bresnark, head of social at co-buying software company buyapowa, takes vendors to task for restricting social commerce to social plugins and social spam.  We couldn’t agree more.  For buyapowa, social commerce is about “helping brands sell things in social”.  We don’t quite agree.

Social commerce, in our view is less about selling in social, but more about selling socially. It’s about social as a way of selling, not just a place to sell.  For example, Pepsi sells socially by allowing its fans to buy Pepsi merchandise as discount prices when they buy together. We-commerce not e-commerce.

So what, you say, who cares about definitions?  Well, if you restrict social commerce to selling in social media then you miss out on the opportunity of using of social technology outside of social media channels to assist in buying and selling of products and services.

Ironically, it is buyapowa software that is behind the Pepsi co-buy sales campaign, helping the brand sell socially by selling to groups rather than individuals.  It happens to be done in social media, but it doesn’t have to – social commerce can and does happen in traditional stores (the whole Tuangou (team-buying) tradition began in traditional retail), in an app or on the Web.  And arguably, social commerce delivers more value out of social media that in it  (see these stats).

Facebook commerce (f-commerce) fell flat when vendors reduced it to using Facebook as a place to set up a store. Social commerce will fall flat if you reduce it to selling in social.  Instead, think socially, and ask yourself how you can help people shop smarter using social technology.

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1 Comment

  1. Robin Bresnark
    April 8, 2013
    Reply

    Hey, Paul – great to see you picking up on this (though I think you may have meant to link to http://www.business2community.com/social-media/pepsis-crushing-coke-in-social-0449775, not the story about BrewDog Beers crowd-sourcing their beer R&D).

    That said, the Brewdog story does show that I entirely agree with you about the breadth of definition one can and should apply to social commerce. You’re 100% right: social commerce most certainly does not have be confined to selling in social networks, but I do feel that there needs to be a transactional element (so I get grumpy when people refer to posting links on Pinterest or using review plug-ins as social commerce… surely that’s just social marketing?).

    Oh, and I love the phrase ‘we-commerce’ not ‘e-commerce’ – that goes a long way to nailing it!

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