Brian SolisIn a post today at Fast Company, well-known PR blogger and social media analyst Brian Solis shares his views on what have been referred to as the “Six Pillars of Social Commerce.”

These pillars relate to six heuristics (rules of thumb) that Dr. Paul Marsden, editor of Social Commerce Today, first outlined over two years ago in his seminal post How Social Commerce Works: The Psychology of Social Shopping.

Those six pillars were popularized late last year thanks to an infographic produced by Facebook app provider Tabjuice and its good to see Brian, who himself has a deeper understanding of what makes social media work than most of us, reference them in his post.

Here’s a quick rundown of what Brian had to say:

  • Social media is about social science, not technology;
  • The exchange of social currencies contribute to one’s capital within each network;
  • [S]ome business leaders believe that creating a presence in social networks eventually erodes the control of the brand, risking the governance they’ve theoretically held on to over the years;
  • The control you think you lose by opening up to online engagement actually gives you a sense of control;
  • In social media and online engagement, the social sciences of psychology, anthropology, communication, economics, human geography are essential in building meaningful relationships and influencing mutually beneficial behavior;
  • Unlike the traditional web, social media is a very emotional landscape where people are at the center of their own egosystem. You must design an experience that captivates the mind or feeds likely emotions to affect desirable behavior in a given context.

In the post, Brian references each of the six heuristics amplified by commentary of his own. For the record, here is a list of them accompanied by a small slice of Brian’s comments:

1. Social Proof: Follow the Crowd – During the new customer journey (aka the decision-making cycle), a consumer may find themselves at a point of indecision. When consumers are uncertain of what to do next, social proof kicks in to see what others are doing or have done.

2. Authority: The Guiding Light – During the dynamic customer journey, authorities rise as the sherpas to guide in effective decision making.

3. Scarcity: Less is More – A function of supply and demand, greater value is assigned to the resources that are, or perceived to be, less available.

4. Liking: Builds Bonds and Trust – We have a natural inclination to emulate those we like, admire, and find attractive as these attributes also contribute to the “guilt by association” impression of self-identity.

5. Consistency – When faced with uncertainty, consumers tend not to take risks. Rather, they prefer to stay consistent with beliefs or past behavior.

6. Reciprocity: Pay It Forward – As human beings, we have an innate desire to repay favors to maintain a balance of social fairness whether or not those favors were invited.

Kudos to Brian for presenting further evidence that the keys to unlocking the mysteries of social commerce are found not in  tools, platforms or e-commerce, but in a deep understanding of social psychology and what makes us tick.

As a way of providing some reciprocity of our own, let me make mention that Brian recently authored a new book published by Wiley entitled The End of Business as Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution. The following is an infographic from the book that discusses the new customer journey.

The New Customer Journey by Brain Solis