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Interesting post by Kevin Patrick Allen on how to use Facebook and Twitter to sell over at Practical Ecommerce.

Gist of the post is that whilst Facebook and Twitter may be (or may not be) transient fads, and may (or may not) be effective in “brand building”, they are – at the moment – effective promotional channels for online merchants.  Facebook and Twitter are widely used, easy and inexpensive for merchants to use and can deliver measurable results (driving traffic).

However, the article warns against being overly commercial and suggests four rules of social commerce etiquette

1) Avoid running ads (or ad like content): Ads in Facebook and Twitter are “like an Amway salesman at a family reunion” quoted from Application Dynamics CEO Lawrence Cramer) – and about as welcome…

2) Care about others: Use Facebook and Twitter to listen, respond and help: shouting won’t work

3) Establish your Expertise: Use Facebook and Twitter to demonstrate product and category knowledge to establish yourself as the expert

4) Promote your Brand: Use Facebook and Twitter to give shoppers a reason to choose you – not just your products (by offering something useful, helpful – or simply by putting a human face on your brand)

We like the idea of social commerce etiquette, although we think that overt commercial messaging can and does work (Dell’s and Amazon’s Deal Feeds) – the key is to give  people a compelling reason to add you their newsfeed and twitter feeds.