Mix the social web with ecommerce and you are left with a high-bred called social commerce. It seems that last year saw the rise of a few different ways to sell online, we’ve always had ecommerce but it has now been joined by mcommerce (mobile) and now social commerce.
Though the idea of social commerce has been with us for quite a while it was not until Mark Zuckerberg announced it in his F8 keynote speech did every one start to take notice. Facebook have some ambitious plans which I will talk about later but I think it’s best to firstly explain the idea behind social commerce.
As I suggested it has been with us for quite a while but nobody took a great deal of notice and in fact most of us use it all the time. The idea is simple, if you decide you want to buy a new set of speakers you will first figure out a list of some of the best ones available. Once you have that list you are going to try and find what other people think of these speakers. Where are the most likely places you will go find this out? Probably the reviews on Amazon or you will jump on a forum and ask the question. You want to find out what others have to say about these speakers and in most cases you will make a decision based on what other people have to say and whether or not they like them. This is social commerce; the opinions of others are driving you to buy a specific product over another. So this may be a slightly dulled down version but I think it grasps the essentials of what social commerce is.
Now before I can explain why and how Facebook fits into this I need to explain one more thing and that is the idea of the semantic web. Traditionally we have relied on Google to find what we are looking for, we type in a search term, Google pulls back the results and displays what it suggests as being the most relevant results at the top of the page. To do this Google spiders the web, indexing and ranking each page it finds.
Facebook and its half a billion members won’t be using spiders to crawl the web, it will use its members and here’s how. Let say I’m a mid-twenties male and I’m on a movie review site and I click the Facebook “likes” button for some movie I just watched, a connection is then made between this movie’s page, me and Facebook.
Now that Facebook knows that a male in their mid-twenties likes this movie it can then make the assumption that other males in their mid-twenties will also like this movie. Multiple the likes of 1 member of Facebook by 500 million and this is the idea of the semantic web. People are using the Facebook likes between to make a social connection with what they like, this connection is then passed back to Facebook who can use this information to make the same suggestion to others who may fit their demographic.
Moving back to social commerce. Facebook want to be able to provide you with suggestions and ideas based on what others in your social group has liked in the past, it could either be from the people who are connected to or suggestions based on your demographic. What may also be key is that you are more willing to act on the suggestions and likes of the people you are connected with as I believe that an element of social acceptance will also play a part in your buying decision, previously you were buying based on the opinions and advice of complete strangers. Now that you are taking the advice of people that you have previously connected with it inevitable that these suggestions will be much more powerful when it comes to making your final decision.
Even though many ecommerce store have been slow to embrace Social media, the idea of social commerce may give them the push they need, though the idea in its latest guise may still be in its infancy, all that you really need to make it work is to add the Facebook Likes button to each of your products pages, doing this will firstly allow Facebook and its members to make social connections with your products, but the biggest advantage will come when Facebook members make the choice to buy from you based on the opinions and advice of their social group.
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