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Comment: Social commerce – that’s Facebook right?

Richard Anson, Founder of Reevoo provides tips for brands that want to drive traffic and sales using social commerce - beyond Facebook.

BRANDS

Comment: Social commerce – that’s Facebook right?

Facebook is undeniably infiltrating the world of shopping. We recently found that there has been a 41 per cent increase in consumers asking for product recommendations on Facebook and a 12 per cent increase in looking at what products friends ‘like’ on Facebook.  But just because Facebook is the largest social network, does not mean it’s the most important platform for social commerce. In fact, assuming social commerce is social media is one of the most common misunderstandings we hear.

Social commerce means bringing the social element back to online shopping, and the brands and retailers that will truly maximise social commerce will be the ones that harness its power; Facebook is part of this but by no means the whole picture.

Shopping has always been social. Since the first transactions in the earliest marketplaces, people bought from people and discussed their decisions with other people. To bring this vital social aspect into online shopping, retailers must move from passive social commerce (sitting back and hoping people engage with you) to active social commerce. This means getting out there and generating the content and conversations that increase engagement online. Customer reviews are one of the best forms of social commerce – they allows customers to see the real opinions of other buyers, providing more information of each product – and the success of this method is all down to trust.

We’ve put together some tips for retailers looking to make reviews and social commerce active parts of their marketing strategy:

1) Extend the reach of the reviews you’re generating by ensuring they appear on other social sites. Of course you want to allow people to share what they have written on networks like Facebook and Twitter, but also consider linking to the top shopping comparison and affiliate sites. Keeping social content in silos limits its power to drive traffic and conversion. 

2) Once you have your reviews programme up and running you want to get the most out of the content being generated. Positive reviews can generate sales in the real world as well as the online one; use reviews and feedback on packaging, in-store, on mobiles sites and in advertising campaigns. Remember to show where the reviews have come from though; openness is crucial here.

3) The first few weeks after a new product or line has launched is one of the most important, as margins are usually at their highest, but many retailers sit back and wait for customer feedback, reviews and ratings to come in. Thus the conversion that reviews could generate is lost when you need it most. Consider offering products pre-launch or giving early access to reviewers so you have user-generated content from day one.

4) You want to generate lots of positive reviews, which you can gather if you invite feedback proactively. Otherwise only those with an axe to grind will review your product, and the many happy customers will remain unheard. You want the reviews of your product to be fair and
balanced, but if you only have a few reviews, one or two negative ones will drag down the ratings and conversions rates.

5) Engage with your customers and potential buyers. If you see an issue or query that has not been answered, get involved and sort it out. If negative feedback is based on a misunderstanding, then correct it. However, transparency is key here – make it clear you work for the brand. On the other hand, if anyone has left fair but negative reviews, don’t delete them. It proves you are honest.

E-commerce doesn’t have to be de-personalised. Retailers are discovering the power of the crowd and the winners will be the retailers and brands that take an active, engaged approach to this new challenge.

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