It’s no secret that social media has become an essential marketing tool for just about every business on the planet. Having a strong social media presence that allows your company to build direct and responsive relationships with consumers is now de rigueur for businesses both small and large. Social media allows companies to monitor consumers and determine what they like, what they buy and how they go about making purchases, making it a powerful and inexpensive commercial resource. But why should it stop there?
Social media is great for generating leads, but shouldn’t there be a way to shorten the path-to-purchase and convert those leads into sales right there on the spot? A way to turn social marketing into social commerce? It’s coming, probably sooner than you might expect, and it’s going to change the way we all think about shopping in the digital space.
Commerce is all about bridging those pesky gaps that separate consumers from the goods and services they want and need. Have you ever gone into a store looking for a specific item only to leave empty-handed because the line was too long, you couldn’t find your item, you couldn’t find a salesperson, etc.? When it comes to making a sale, in person or online, every second counts. According to marketing analytics blog Kissmetrics, 40 percent of potential consumers abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. And for an eCommerce site making $100,000 per day, a one-second page delay could potentially cost them $2.5 million in lost sales every year. Social commerce eliminates these gaps by providing customers with the opportunity to make purchases the second a product pops up on their feed.
Just about every major social media platform out there is tinkering with its own version of social commerce. Twitter and Pinterest are already including Buy Now buttons for select products and retail outlets. When a promotional tweet appears from certain retail partners, users can simply tap the Buy Now button and they’ll be directed to Twitter’s checkout page. By handling order taking and payment processing, while letting partner brands handle order fulfillment, Twitter leverages the immediacy of social media in order to break down the barriers between marketing and sales. But, while this innovation represents a huge step forward in the rapid evolution of social commerce, some new companies are already looking to take it to the next level.
The U.K. startup Tweepforce, for instance, is taking a slightly different approach to social commerce. Rather than simply attaching a Buy button to promotional tweets that users might simply dismiss as spam, Tweepforce leverages the vast data generating power of Twitter to create targeted, analytics driven social media campaigns based on hashtags, geotags and keywords to generate and convert a higher number of quality leads.
Operating on the fact that consumers who seek out a product or service are more likely to make a purchase than those who are approached by a retailer or bombarded by spam, Tweepforce essentially lets the customer drive the lead generation process. Tweepforce enables a business to target specific hashtags and tweets, and then manually or automatically reply to them with a call to action. So when a customer tweets about a certain product or service, he or she will instantly receive a response from that company with an option to buy now. This approach not only promises to promote the generation of higher quality leads and higher conversion rates, but, by giving companies real-time data on ROI, it also provides valuable insight for future campaigns.
No matter what form social commerce ends up taking, its future dominance is all but assured. It’s unclear what this means for individual brands whose stand-alone Web stores have heretofore been part of their brand identity. And it’s similarly hard to say if social commerce will have an impact on the bottom line of major online retailers like Amazon. But what is certain is that social commerce is already poised to change the way we shop forever, and that any company that is serious about taking their business into the future should be doing whatever they can to jump on the bandwagon ASAP.