• Share on Google+

Digital media expert Thomas Baekdal has published the first book on Social Commerce (in English), entitled – naturally enough – ‘Social Commerce’, and it’s quite simply brilliant.

The 156 page book provides a clear strategic focus and purpose for social commerce – expanding, in a nutshell, IBM’s insight that social commerce is essentially the concept of word of mouth in the context of sales.  It provides clear principles and guidelines, with useful do’s and don’ts, and offers a practical roadmap for executing a successful social commerce plan.  It’s also refreshingly free from jargon.

Social Commerce can be purchased from Amazon’s Kindle store for $9.99 (plus tax) – or if you subscribe to Thomas Baekdal’s premium blog ($5/month), it’s free.

For the time-pressed, here’s our speed summary of some of the smartest thinking you’ll find on social commerce.

What is Social Commerce?

  • Social commerce is about connecting social communication about a specific product with a direct conversion to sale. It is about buying a product directly from the wall, from a tweet, or from a blog post.
  • Social commerce is about selling (remarkable products worth talking about) and (facilitating) the sharing (of remarkable products worth talking about)
  • Social commerce is not about creating a shop on Facebook. It is about linking sharing to the direct sale of a product.
  • Social commerce is primarily a post-conversion tactic, using the power of sharing to grow
  • Social commerce is product-centric commerce, not store- focused (or brand or campaign focused) – because people share products, not stores
  • Social commerce is about creating a virtuous cycle of sharing to buying to sharing to…

What Drives Social Commerce?

  • You need two things to succeed in social commerce – a remarkable product, and a community of fans ready to advocate it
  • Shares drive social commerce – social commerce is about managing shares to product pages (in social commerce your storefront is a link in social media)
  • The essence of successful social commerce is turn your product into a stream that people can share and follow
  • Social commerce required stream-thinking, not site-thinking – you want your product to appear in people’s news streams, not on a destination site

Key Social Commerce Principles

  • Social commerce is product-centric commerce (because people talk about products not brands, stores or campaigns) – it’s about getting your product into people’s news-streams and getting people to the check-out
  • Understand sharing – who shares, what, how and why – is fundamental to social commerce
    • Sharing links
    • Sharing product names
    • Sharing product advice
    • Sharing by tagging photos
  • Because social commerce is about getting from the news-stream to the checkout, it is important to understand the context of the news-stream – notably it’s not primarily about shopping (which means social commerce is about impulse shopping)
  • Social commerce is a process not an event – it is about building awareness and excitement over time prior to  a product launch, growing engagement level of your core group of followers (through interaction), launching the product with a wow factor, and becoming an active member of the product community (see social commerce plan)
  • Social commerce is not about selling one (remarkable) product just once, but selling an ecosystem of product accessories around your core roduct to keep fans coming back for more, buying more and sharing more. i.e. Your social commerce strategy should be an ‘accessorising strategy’
  • Social commerce is mobile by default. Nearly half of social media interaction is via mobile handsets – But the real mobile trend is that consumers are mobile – switching between locations and devices
  • Social commerce is global by default. Your core group of customers is not people living in a certain geographic location, but rather people who care.
  • Social commerce is fast and simple by default – as simple as posting a status update. Even in traditional e-commerce speed to checkout is critical (Amazon.com has calculated that if something takes 100ms longer to do, they experience a 1% drop in sales) – but the realtime and fast context of social media, exacerbates the need for speed and simplicity.
  • Smart social commerce requires a multi-device strategy – allowing people to buy from links on whatever device they happen to be using – with each device offering a gold-stadard experience (‘responsive design’ – product page and checkout adapts to all devices)
    • Ideally the best social commerce solution involves
      1. Creating a highly focused experience on your most popular channels,
      2. Making it embeddable on any channel,
      3. Build it using a layout engine that works with any format

Pitfalls & Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don’t think of social commerce as stores on Facebook – simply replicating a traditional store on a Facebook tab (where few people visit) is to miss the point. Social commerce is about driving sales by sharing
  • Social spamming (promotional updates in social media) is not the answer – build followers by being useful, by giving followers a compelling reason for you to be an active part in their lives
  • Shiny new objects – QR codes, NFC (near field communications), Facebook Credits – may become useful tools for social commerce – but right now they’re more likely to add friction and barriers to social selling
  • Over-focus on Facebook – You need to create a social commerce platform that links sharing to selling via any channel, any method, any device, at any time, everywhere – think embeddable and portable stores (e.g. Wazala), not just FB stores.  Think ‘with Facebook’ (using FB widgets), rather than (only) ‘on Facebook’
  • Friction is the biggest enemy of social commerce (others are selling the wrong product (unremarkable) at the wrong time (when people are not open to shopping). Sources of friction include – no 1-click sharing, having to click to see, dialogue boxes, and too many clicks to checkout
  • Group-buy and check-in deals can be useful, but avoid building building your social commerce strategy around price-promotions – offer more for the same, rather than the same for less
  • One-shot or ‘Big Bang’ social campaigns do not work because the lifespan of a tweet is 1hr, of a FB update is one day – social commerce is a process not an event, about building product awareness, excitement, traffic and sales over time

A Social Commerce Plan

  • Your social commerce plan should be built around product introductions (because the new has inbuilt newsworthiness/talkability). Your social commerce plan should comprise six phases around each new product introduction
    • Phase 1 (pre-launch t-3): The initial phase should be to build awareness of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what is in it for your followers.
    • Phase 2 (pre-launch t-2): Phase 2 is all is about building your product, service, or solution. At this point you show people that you are not just talking about it, you are making it real. Ask fans for input but always remember that people follow you because you can show the way. Do not ask people what to do, that is your job to figure out. Ask people “When we do this, what would it mean to you? What would you need?”
    • Phase 3 (pre-lauch t-1): Show that you are now getting really close to launching the product. Take a picture of your staff packaging your products. Make it abundantly clear that you will deliver as promised, start taking pre-orders
    • Phase 4 (launch t-0):  There is no point in creating a huge expensive launch event. It might look spectacular, but it is not going to change anything. It is just wasting money for the sake of marketing. The excitement of the launch, in a social campaign, is the result of the engagement over the past 3 months. It is not the result of a single date. The launch is all about delivering the product. One very important thing that you must do is to create a wow factor focused around your product. There must be some secret that you have not told you followers and early adopters about yet. Something that makes it 120% better – and therefore worth talking about – Always have your “one more thing”. For early adopters, include something just for them, “for early adopters only.”
    • Phase 5 (post-launch t+1): Go into tutorial mode immediately after the launch date. Help people get started, and make sure everyone gets all the support they need. Forget about marketing, this is all about customer support
    • Phase 6 (post-launch t+2): Wrap up – boost launch sales with newsworthy discounts, small events, location based activities, and Groupon – but avoid upset your full-price paying early adopters
  • Reply
    Author
    Thomas Baekdal

    Thanks Paul, great review and even better summary!

  • Reply
    Author
    Jeroen

    Thanks Paul for pointing me to this book. I’ve been waiting for such a book to come around – in English – for a while now. I’m already into it – great read.

    I have one remark though; “in social commerce your storefront is a link on social media” isn’t a new concept. This has been going on since search was introduced. The homepage isn’t the most important page of a webshop anymore (was is ever?). Traffic is coming through product and product group pages directly from paid and organic search. Especially from “unbranded” search queries. Creating a trustworthy product page with a clear call-to-action to drive sales isn’t only applicable to drive social commerce, but to drive commerce in general. Obviously the same applies to traffic coming from mobile.

    It’s great to see Thomas pushing in this area. I’ll recommend this book to my business contacts.

    • Reply
      Author
      Paul Marsden

      Thanks for the comment Jeroen, good point well made; I like the analogy with search. Smart.

  • Reply
    Author
    Thomas Baekdal

    Thanks Jeroen, and you are of course right about that the store front isn’t a new concepts. In fact you can go back even further than search. To the earliest days of the web, and even further to the pre-newspaper era when word-of-mouth was critical to reaching people.

    The difference though is that we come from a world of presentations, so in a sense, we have to reinvent the concepts of the past.

    • Reply
      Author
      Jeroen

      Thanks for your reply Thomas. You are right about reinventing concepts of the past, but I was referring to concepts we use for a converting product page like trust, peer pressure, ease of purchasing, scarcity, clear product images, and others.

      Better an old picture than no picture at all ;-)

  • Reply
    Author
    Thomas Baekdal

    BTW: Really odd profile pic added to my comments. It is about 6 years old or something :)

    • Reply
      Author
      Thomas Baekdal

      fixed it :)

  • Reply
    Author
    Julien Chaumond

    We should have written this book! :)

    • Reply
      Author
      Paul Marsden

      Salut Julien, comme tu le dis… Je suis basé a Londres depuis une semaine – j’espère qu’on aura l’occasion de se voir bientôt.

  • Reply
    Author
    Eytan

    As always Paul you seem to know whats going on before the rest of us. As soon as I read your tweet, I went into my phone’s kindle app and bought it.

    Amazing book so far Thomas. Not done yet but loving it at the moment. I particularly like your point early on in the book regarding Facebook shops “…almost all Facebook shops aren’t really about social commerce at all. They are just traditional web shops in a Facebook tab.” I couldn’t agree more. Facebook “shops” happen to be what I do for a living and the pitfall you mention is something we are specifically attempting to avoid.
    Social engagement is the fuel of eCommerce now but the concept is still to new for some people to grasp.
    Anyway, I look forward to finishing your book and thank you for taking the time to put into words what some of us have been thinking.

    • Reply
      Author
      Thomas Baekdal

      Thanks Eytan, Hope you like the reast of it too :)

    • Reply
      Author
      Paul Marsden

      Thanks for the comment Eytan, Glad you’re enjoying Thomas’ tome!

  • Reply
    Author
    Ricardo Murillo

    Gracias por el articulo….
    Paul Marsden thanks for this doc…
    Social Commerce is the core of my research and this is one of my sources…

    Muchas Gracias….!!!

    • Reply
      Author
      Paul Marsden

      Thanks Ricardo, happy you find SCT useful. Good luck with the research – and be sure to share your findings with us!

  • Reply
    Author
    Malte Schulze

    Nice article, Paul.

    It’s fun to read your blog, while we are developing a new shopping app for Facebook. One of our core beliefs is that product representation on Facebook is everything but perfect for webshops and the newsfeeds are cluttered with commercial offerings. I always think that the newsfeed should be mostly about my friends and used by companies to drive engagement and loyalty and not sell stuff within my newsfeed. That’s why I believe the 7 For All Mankind Newsfeed store (and similar campaigns) is quite neat to look at, but not effective.

    When you talk about webshops brought on Facebook, I would even go a step further and say they basically are just catalogs put online. And these catalogs have been around for many many years. The vast opportunities of social media have not been tapped.

    Best regards from Germany, its always a pleasure to read your articles,

    Malte

    • Reply
      Author
      Paul Marsden

      Thanks for the comment Malte – agree with you that a lot of f-commerce is lame – just online catalogues. Personally, I think we should understand Facebook as fan-media, offering fans exclusives in order to activate their advocacy, online or offline – ideally personalised using the open graph. Simply throwing up an online catalogue offers little value to anyone.

      • Reply
        Author
        Malte Schulze

        I think what you say is right, when it comes to the normal newsfeed. This is where you can do special fan offerings, etc.
        However, I believe Facebook can also be the one-stop shop for fashion, discovering music and receiving news updates. The problem is that, Facebook lacks a cool structure to do so. All you can work with right now is the newsfeed, which renews itself every 1-2 days.
        This is where apps could step in. With an app you not just have the possibility to receive open graph info about your readers, thus, can adjust the app dynamically to every user, but also you can go back in time (sth that Facebook does not offer at all). A cool example would be a music app, which aggregates all songs posted by friends, fanpages etc. and sorts them into a playlist. The playlist could go back a year and aggregate all songs posted back then. I could do the same with newspaper articles and create every users own newspaper consisting of articles posted by friends and fanpages, I could easily add some local news from his hometown and the city he/ she currently lives in.

        I believe the field of Facebook apps offers a wide range of opportunities, and companies should start thinking what they could offer beyond the newsfeed.

  • Reply
    Author
    Eytan

    Question for Paul and Thomas:
    1) I noticed Thomas’s book that the concept of Friction is pointed out as incredibly important. Would you consider having a store within Facebook as the reduction of friction between the social and purchasing aspects of the social commerce process?

    2) I read recently that the bounce rate related to the “allow access” feature in Facebook is approximately 30%. Is this true? And in your opinion, does the friction created by the “allow access” feature (in regards to a Facebook store app) outweigh the detailed user data and viral potential (wall posting and such) of the feature?

  • Reply
    Author
    Anna C.

    Hi Thomas,
    I’ve read your book yesterday during a couple of hours until 2am. It is a great read indeed. Everything makes sense and facilitates my research a lot for my diploma thesis in which I am doing a creative concept for a Facebook Shop. I use to fall asleep over books=) so it was a nice experience to read one that made me feel “oh, yes, that is all worthwhile to know” instead of “ok, you are boring me”. Can you recommend other books dealing with social commerce / f-commerce?

    I am really looking forward your next book. Cheers, Anna