Looking back just a few years, social media has seemingly taken the world by storm. I remember signing up to Facebook in 2004 when just students at select colleges were allowed to join. I remember being an “early adopter” of Twitter when it seemed to be just marketing and PR-types like myself sharing relevant articles and networking with like-minded professionals. But we’ve come a long way since those days.
Today, social media is everywhere, so it’s no surprise that it’s begun to spiral off into many different forms — one of which is social commerce.
At this point in time, almost everything we do is “social”. When we plan an event, we use Facebook to collect RSVPs. When we have a question or a problem, we tweet it out to the world looking for an answer. When we grab a drink after work with some friends, we check in on Foursquare to let everyone know where we’re at, so it’s no surprise that now we’re telling people what we’re buying when we’re online. And in many instances, we’re even asking them to buy the same thing so we can take advantage of a special deal.
Take FlutterToday as an example. Operating the same way as better-known Groupon, FlutterToday uses the power of group buying to offer huge discounts to restaurants, bars, shops, salons, etc. around Knoxville. Basically, if a consumer wants to buy a certain deal, they need a certain number of other people to also buy that deal. Thus, they share it via social channels in hopes that enough people will buy the deal, allowing it to take off.
And if consumers are interested in more of a shopping mall experience as opposed to a one-day special, social commerce sites like Half Off Depot can give them that, as Half Off Depot features numerous deals at a time. The deals don’t have a time limit, but they often have a cap. We can compare the experience to brick-and-mortar shopping — a store only has so many items in stock at a time.
No matter how it’s handled, social commerce is opening a major door for businesses.
I remember when social media was new and a lot of business owners had the same question, “how does this translate into sales?” Social commerce is one of the driving factors answering that question.
That’s not to say social media itself doesn’t translate into sales, but for many brick-and-mortar stores, social commerce really is the icing on the cake.
For example, let’s say a new, local Knoxville eatery signs up to Twitter and Facebook and begins interacting with its fans and followers, looking for interactions and potential new business and building relationships. They’re quickly spreading the word about their business around the community. But often, people are skeptical of places they’ve never been — especially in this economy where every dollar counts. While a potential new customer may be interested in trying out the new restaurant, they often need an incentive to really go forward with it.
Enter a company like Half Off Depot. Now, the new eatery has a half-off deal online that they’re able to promote to their fans and followers. It’s now possible for local consumers to test out the restaurant at half price, and thus, a lot of people do. The restaurant makes money initially, and if each guest has a good experience, they’re likely to return — meaning more revenue and success for the business over time.
The restaurant has officially rounded out the social media circle — from interacting with potential customers on social networks, all the way through the sales process. And it probably cost them a lot less than a traditional advertising campaign! Digital marketing channels really are changing the way we do business.
How has social commerce worked for your business?
(Disclosure: FlutterToday and Half Off Depot are both Pyxl clients.)