Much has been said about companies that have been unsuccessful using social commerce. A new guide from Internet Retailer lists many that have experienced great success.

According to The 2013 Social Media 300: Ranking E-Retail’s Leaders in Social Media Marketing and Commerce, it’s SMB retailers that top the list, not giants like Wal-mart, Target and BestBuy. Those don’t even make it into the top 100.

Here’s what the leaders in social media marketing and commerce look like said IR: they are small to mid-sized web-only merchants, relatively new to online retailing, that have put social media at the forefront of their business strategies.

Big budgets don’t factor in either, as nine of the top ten retailers in the guide brought in less than $30 million each in online sales in 2011.

A key metric followed by Internet Retailer was the percentage of web site traffic retailers receive from social networks, which the guide said is a measurement of how effective these merchants are at using social media and social commerce.

The leaders on the list include Petflow.com at number one, followed Fab.com and Coastal Contacts respectively. Of the three, Fab is probably the most regaled for its use of social commerce.

“PetFlow.com, brings in 30 percent of its total site traffic and overall revenue from social networks – mostly as a result of a laser-like focus on building a maintaining a loyal Facebook fan base and regular posts that speak to their followers’ inner pet lover,” said the guide, while Fab.com received 25 percent of its site traffic from social networks.

Additionally, the guide revealed Fab received up to one-third of its sales – $50 million – from social media. Coastal Contacts saw significantly fewer sales – 5 percent – coming from social channels, but that’s still a reasonable sum considered the retailer generated $177 million in sales online in 2011. On average, sales from social media came to 4.25 percent of total said Internet Retailer.

For these retailers it’s not a get rich quick strategy either. “We’re really trying to build customers for a lifetime, and social is a way for us to do that,” said Fab.com founder and CEO Jason Goldberg.

I’ve always said social media is not the fast road to profit, but the high road. Its real value comes in building customer loyalty over the long-haul. Remember the lesson of the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race. And, in Fab’s case, being a thoroughly social company doesn’t hurt either. In a related Internet Retailer article, Goldberg sized up his company as “an e-commerce site based on Facebook.”

The real lesson taught by the guide is that success in social media is the purview of smaller retailers. Perhaps it’s because they are the ones best suited to building personal, authentic relationships with customers that produce loyalty and LTV. Whatever the reason, Internet Retailer’s resource may hold valuable information from which larger retailers could benefit.

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Today’s article is sponsored by Payvment: The #1 Social Commerce Platform
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