The breadth of social commerce solutions available combined with their fast evolving nature can make starting out with social commerce daunting. And with most businesses engaged with social commerce at an early experimental phase, running tests to establish what works for them, there is no established formula for social commerce success.

However, it is possible outline a general roadmap for starting out with social commerce by adapting McKinsey’s recommended LEAD approach for deploying social media solutions with insights from articles, presentation and publications that we’ve reviewed on this site.

So here for your delight and delectation is the LEAD strategy for deploying social commerce.  Comments please!

  1. Listen: Begin by monitoring social commerce activity in your category and parallel categories. What are competitors seeking to achieve (monetising social media marketing, optimising ecommerce, business model innovation) and with which tools? Include this monitoring in your broader social media monitoring solution that tracks the reputation and reach of your brand or business in social media. Learn about what’s available by signing up to social shopping portals, and keep tabs on how Amazon, the Grand Dame of social commerce is using social media. Consider running a social commerce workshop, reviewing competitor activity, and brainstorming opportunities for your business
  2. Experiment: Decide what you want to achieve (monetising social media marketing, optimising ecommerce, business model innovation) and based on your review, deploy a number of small-scale trials designed to deliver against this objective. Do not overinvest in risky projects too early, rather than plan a big one-shot project, work on small-effort projects. Start simple, learn, and iterate around what works. If you have social features already on your website, extend these into social destinations. For non-retailers, consider setting up a campaign store on a social media platform to run alongside and monetize a marketing campaign. More generally, take advantage of proven solutions that allow you to experiment easily with little time or investment such as customer testimonials, ratings and reviews, user forums, social media optimisation and referral programs. Make measurement a priority.
  3. Apply: Take results from small-scale experiments, and build on what works applying what you have learned by integrating social commerce into your broader business, ecommerce or social media marketing strategy. Remember that social commerce tools deliver business value when they deliver real value the people using them, so it’s critical to give users a compelling reason to engage with social media. Choose toolsets appropriately based on whether you are seeking to enhance product discovery, product selection or product referral and continually capture feedback on how well you are doing. And make the experience smooth – avoid lengthy signups, the need to download or install anything – it’s a huge barrier to adoption. Consider exclusive promotions or novel experiences/tools (special pricing, limited-availability products, early access to products, product configurators, or shopping widgets) to promote adoption
  4. Develop: The frontiers of social media and ecommerce are constantly expanding, so make the development of your social commerce strategy a ongoing priority – integrating new insights, tools and technologies as they become available. Remember that social media is a conversational medium, so listen closely and respond quickly to user feedback on your social commerce solution. Explore how you might apply newer, more innovative social commerce solutions such as portable social graphs, social media stores or offering new social media services. Develop ideas on how you might profit from emerging trends in social commerce; ‘social CRM’, mobile and augmented reality, and curated social marketplaces