Are We There Yet? The State of Social Commerce
When we set up a marketing package for a client, one of the first things we are asked — every time! — is about "buy now" buttons and social commerce. We still tell our clients that unless they are selling something for $50 or less, social commerce hasn't arrived yet. We continue to see the evolution of social commerce, but it's hype is greater than its delivery so far.
Does that mean we don't recommend doing social or social commerce for high-ticket items (pretty much all we do at SupportWerx is high-ticket)? Not at all! But we use social as a way of creating awareness, generating leads (email addresses), and encouraging engagement — without the expectation that an order will take place. How does that work?
Let's use a few comparisons to illustrate our thinking about social commerce for high ticket items:
- The first comparison is to traditional brand/awareness marketing. BMW spends a lot of money on television, even though many of their target households aren't ready to buy a enw car. Why do they do that? Because they know that if they advertise often enough, many of those viewers will instinctively head to a BMW dealer the next time they are in the market, and may even get so antsy for that new Beemer that they go buy a new one sooner than originally planned.
- The second comparison is to taking a trusted friend along to the dealership when you go. Many people feel more confident about a major purchase if they have an endorsement from friends or family. In the case of the car, that means bringing someone along to the dealership to do the test drive with you. In the case of social media, that means tagging friends or sharing posts and getting input from your network.
The owner of our company is currently selling her house. It's an expensive property, and she had us create a Facebook page just for the house, even though she has a top real estate brokerage firm working to sell it, and even though nobody had purchased a house on Facebook yet (that we know of). We target people geographically and according to indicators of net worth. We know the ads are working, because people are "sharing" the ads with others we may not have thought to target, and are having conversations in the threads about the merits of the house. They are also "liking" the various posts - some of them multiple times. Is it social commerce? No — there's no buy button. But at 800 - 1,000 extra views a day, it's bound to help us find the right buyer faster.
The most recent issue of Website Magazine has more to say on this topic:
Currently social commerce is associated with impulse buying and small ticket items. However, TranslateMedia sees one of the key trends of social commerce as an enabler of group buying, making it easier for big ticket purchases to be made online. Products like cars or holidays often involve input from more than one decision maker and social commerce could provide a platform for these interactions online, as part of the purchase process rather than in a separate whatsapp group or face-to-face conversation. Read the rest of the article here.
A lot of people still need to shift their thinking about social media. While its promise as a driver of sales continues to be just out of reach (unless you sell subscriptions to Dollar Shave Club, or $29 must-have shoes), it is a fantastic medium for generating awareness and leads. Set your expectations properly, manage the medium for what it is truly best at delivering, and grow your business accordingly.