What is Social Commerce?

Posted by: in Communication Strategy, Corporate and Strategy, Customer Experience, Integrated Communications, Marketing Insights, Pre-Commerce, Social Commerce, Social Media Insights & Trends, Thinking Creatively, Thought Leadership on October 31, 2012

Today I have the pleasure of moderating a panel at the Holmes Global PR Summit. The title of the panel is, The Emergence of Social Commerce, and I will be joined by Becky Brown, director of integrated media at Intel (paid, social, SEM) and David Witt, director, global digital marketing and brand public relations at The Hershey Company (both clients).

During the discussion, we will talk about the convergence of communications and analytics and how that is resulting in an evolution of how we view the paid/owned/shared/earned media model. In many respects, earned is becoming the leader and will increasingly guide the effective use of paid media, in the future. The result of this new alchemy is the birth of “social commerce,” which enables communicators to create demand and drive revenue. We are now capable of building social commerce strategies that evolve our overall sales strategy, as well as effectively position our brand’s story. The panel will discuss what is working and what challenges lay ahead.

As a preview to our panel, I was able to catch up with Becky Brown to ask her a few key questions that will help frame our conversation. Below are Becky’s answers:

What is social commerce?
Social commerce means different things to different companies. For Intel, for example, we don’t sell anything directly to end customers (we sell through the eco-system and partners), so our social commerce is how we enable those sales through other manufacturers. On the B2B side we have something called our Online Sales Engine which is designed to capture leads through social and our intel.com, and nurture them through the sales process into the right hands of the companies that can provide them the right product and / or service. On the B2C side, social commerce is humanizing and extending our brand online turning that emotion into a desired purchase behavior that drives action into retail or through our computer manufacturers.

Is your company “doing” social commerce or helping other companies leverage social commerce?
We’re “doing” social commerce across our business and consumer markets. We’re also enabling our partners to market through and with us along the process through our content strategy. We know for business professionals, they are interested in Hot Topics (e.g. Consumerization of IT, Big Data), and we’re using these to guide and develop the conversations and content that provides value to our communities and engages in peer to peer conversations and relationships. For consumer, we’ve been testing new social platforms that help us tie sales directly back to our partners and retails, we’re also doing some pilots with social SEM as an integrated approach to driving sales through our social communities.

What role do you see in providing the right content in the right channels at the right time play in social commerce?
Everything, literally everything in social comes down to content. Period. And before you can develop the right content you need to develop your own social content strategy. This is not your brand strategy dusted off for social, this is how your brand talks, responds, visualizes, engages in communities online. How do you want to be perceived, do you have opinions on things, where do you take risks, etc? When you have your content strategy, you then can look at how to deploy that content onto the right channels. These channels should work together in concert globally – understanding that the markets are different in China as they are in Germany. The best part of social is that everything is measurable, so you can constantly be turning the dials on your content to maximize your greatest impact – driving toward that emotional connection that drives purchase intent for your brand.

Is your company thinking about social commerce? If so, what is your approach?

By: Aaron Strout

Aaron is the President of WCG, one of the three agencies under the W2O Group umbrella. He is a regular contributor to Marketing Land and a co-host of video podcast, Live from Stubbs.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

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