Social Commerce – converting conversation into commerce

Last week I attended a pretty insightful WOMMA UK talk where Dr. Paul Marsden presented his latest thinking on The Rise of Social Commerce: Converting Conversations to Commerce.

For those of you that don’t know him, Marsden is a renowned digital marketer, author and social psychologist.  He is editor of Social Commerce Today, managing editor of Connected Marketing, and former managing editor of the Journal of Memetics.

You may or may not have seen that there is a lot in the news at the moment regarding social commerce, with Marketing Week recently stating “forget e-commerce; social commerce is where it’s at.” Last month Mark Zuckerberg went as far to say that “if I had a guess, social commerce is the next area to really blow up.” IBM defines social commerce as ‘the concept of word of mouth applied to e-commerce,’ and Paul discussed why this is a major opportunity for brands and word of mouth marketers looking to monetise word of mouth measurably.

He believes that the future of word of mouth marketing is in commerce, not conversation and detailed how social commerce is heralding a new generation of word of mouth marketing that offers a digital trace from conversation to commerce.

Paul’s presentation was littered with examples (which will all be within the deck when it arrives), he used Groupon as a shining social commerce success story to illustrate his point. Groupon is the fastest growing website of all time (even more than Facebook), it started 18 months ago and is now worth a staggering $3.35bn! He also covered P&G and Disney with their pop-up Facebook campaign stores (utilising F commerce and tryvertising) that generate word of mouth sales around product launches, viral newsfeed stores embedded in user news feeds, Levi’s use of Facebook social plug-ins to drive traffic, conversion and order value by word of mouth on its e-commerce site; and Diesel’s in-store DieselCam syndicating pics and comments to social networks from the fitting room.

So why is it such a popular phenomenon? Paul stated that the age old issues of accountability and ROI are always top of a client’s agenda and to date, this has been the biggest bugbear of social media because word of mouth is hard to measure. He believes social commerce solves this huge issue because it has tangible financial benefits as you can link word of mouth to sales, solving the ROI hindrance issue. Certainly something to bear in mind for our clients!

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