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So social commerce has just had a credibility-enhancement, with an intellectual injection to accompany the financial injections that the area is already receiving.   The respected top peer-reviewed International Journal of Electronic Commerce has just published a special edition on social commerce (access can be purchased online).  It may be dry and academic, but it’s insightful, useful and with clear implications – representing in our view a significant development in the evolution of social commerce.

So don’t throw out all those industry white papers, but balance them with IJEC critical thinking and objective evidence-based academic analysis – or at least with our speed summaries (the first of six today) covering what you need now know.  The first introductory article, summarised today, from Ting-Pen Liang (National Cheng-Chi University, Tiawan) and Efraim Turban (University of Hawaii), covers the key basics – what social commerce is, how it works, and how to measure it.

Speed Summary

Liang, Ting-Peng and Turban, Efraim (2011) Introduction to the Special Issue: Social Commerce: A Research Framework for Social Commerce, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Volume 16 Number 2, Winter 2011-12, pp. 5-13.

  • The increased popularity of social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, has opened opportunities for new business models for electronic commerce, often referred to as social commerce. Startups in social commerce are moving rapidly along the technology life cycle from “buzz” to “experimentation,” and then to “adoption” and “maturity”

 

  • What is social commerce? Social commerce generally refers to refers to the delivery of e-commerce activities and transactions via the social media environment, mostly in social networks and by using Web 2.0 software. Thus, SC can be considered a subset of e-commerce that involves using social media to assist in e-commerce transactions and activities. Since social media is a word of mouth channel, social commerce can be most simply defined as the concept of word of mouth applied to e-commerce (IBM definition).
    • There are two basic types of social commerce
      • e-commerce apps on social networking [media] sites
      • social networking apps or plugins on e-commerce sites
    • At it’s most broad, social commerce can also refer to any commercial activity on social networking [media] media site [or social activity on e-commerce sites]. Any social networking activity that leads to commercial benefits can be thought of as social commerce – including transactions, word of mouth (including ratings and reviews), referrals and recommendations (also word of mouth), information sourcing, marketing, advertising, customer service, HR recruitment, knowledge management and collaboration
  • How social commerce works
  • How to measure social commerce success Social commerce success can be measured through
    • Case studies
    • Experimental approach (e.g. A/B testing)
    • Longitudinal research (e.g. correlational)
    • Opinion surveys
      • Key Performance Indicators (outcomes) of social commerce that can be measured are;
      • Customer Loyalty
      • Financial Gains
      • Market/Revenue Growth
      • Purchase Intentions
      • Consumer Attitudes
      • User Perceptions
      • Customer Satisfaction
      • Web site usage
      • Click through rate

 

Commentary: Our key takeout is we like the social commerce framework proposed by Liang and Turban, especially the breakdown into two basic types of social commerce; social activity on e-commerce sites, and e-commerce on social sites.  However, we think that social applications used in traditional shopping environments (check-in rewards, augmented reality reviews, and shop and share apps etc) also constitute a third important area of social commerce.  On the other hand, whilst Liang and Turban bundle all forms of social business with a commercial intent into social commerce (advertising, marketing, customer service and HR recruitment), we’d say social commerce is a subset of social commerce that necessarily involves a transaction.

Article Abstract

Introduction to the Special Issue Social Commerce: A Research Framework for Social Commerce

Ting-Peng Liang and Efraim Turban

Liang, Ting-Peng and Turban, Efraim (2011) Introduction to the Special Issue: Social Commerce: A Research Framework for Social Commerce, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Volume 16 Number 2, Winter 2011-12, pp. 5-13.

The increased popularity of social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, has opened opportunities for new business models for electronic commerce, often referred to as social commerce. Social commerce involves using Web 2.0 social media technologies and infrastructure to support online interactions and user contributions to assist in the acquisition of products and services. Social media technologies not only provide a new platform for entrepreneurs to innovate but also raise a variety of new issues for e‐commerce researchers that require the development of new theories. This could become one of the most challenging research arenas in the coming decade. The purpose of this introduction is to present a framework that integrates several elements in social commerce research and to summarize the papers included in this special issue. The framework includes six key elements for classifying social commerce research: research theme, social media, commercial activities, underlying theories, outcomes, and research methods. The proposed framework is valuable in defining the scope and identifying potential research issues in social commerce. We also explain how the papers included in this special issue fit into the proposed research framework.

KEY WORDS AND PHRASES: Research frameworks, social commerce, social media, social networking.