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“A wise man learns by the experience of others; a fool, by his own” so the proverb goes.

Of course, that’s the basic underlying rationale for deploying social commerce software that adds a social layer to the shopping experience, allowing customers to shop with their social intelligence – learning from others, thus enhancing the customer experience, and thereby increasing customer lifetime value.

But social intelligence is not the exclusive proclivity of consumers – brands and retailers can also use social intelligence to choose their own social media/commerce agency from the myriad of suiters that are emerging. The obvious solution is to simply learn from the experience of other brands and retailers, instead than having to learn long-hand from trial and error; so seek referrals, recommendations and ratings at the next industry event you attend.

But there’s more than one way to skin the social commerce cat – here’s another neat little trick, inspired from Christopher Penn’s smart social shopping experiment conducted last week to find a web hosting agency using social media itself.

First, go find the various social media/commerce agencies on Twitter and gather up their Twitter handles. There’s a starter list below of f-commerce (Facebook e-commerce) software solution providers for you. Then schedule a tweet to each of them at midnight “@NAME – If I were one of your clients and had a problem RIGHT now, would you help in the middle of the night?” Then wait for the responses.

The thing about social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, is that is is real-time media, 24/7/365 teal-time media – and that applies whether you are using social media as an e-commerce channel and/or a customer service channel.  Just over a year ago, Eurostar, who operate the train under the channel between France and the UK, got lambasted and vilified because their social media agency took until the following morning to respond to tweets from passengers about a blocked train the previous night (actually, as it turned out through no fault of their own, and despite best practice work).

So make sure your agency GETS social media and is responsive as customers expect.  Choose accordingly.

And check out the results and discussion of Christopher Penn’s full experiment here (for web hosting not social media agencies – but the same principle apply).

F-Commerce Software Solutions

Of course responsiveness is not the only consideration when choosing agencies in the social media space, but it should be one of them.

Could this be a quick, if slightly mean, trick to see if agencies walk the social media talk. Thoughts?