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Social commerce is being tipped as one of this year’s major online growth areas.

With Groupon now officially the fastest growing company ever and retailers announcing new Facebook stores on a weekly basis, the tipping point seems to have been reached.

And it is hardly surprising that social commerce is so popular. Recent research from Forbes demonstrates exactly how valuable Facebook Fans are to a brand.

  • They are 41% more likely to recommend a company.
  • 28% more likely to continue using them in the future. 
  • Fans are worth on average $136.38 to a business and spend $71.84 more per year.

But for many companies, social commerce is confusing. They have lots of questions about how to effectively implement a strategy and are unsure about the best route to take.

The truth is that social commerce doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, there are many very cost effective ways to get a social commerce strategy off the ground. It’s also important not to rush into anything and do proper research.

Here are my tips for getting started:

Check your analytics

Before getting stuck in, check your analytics package to see what sort of traffic you are getting from the social web at the moment and how well this traffic converts.

Putting goals in place for social traffic will help you identify whether your social commerce strategy is working effectively and will allow you to benchmark future results. If traffic from social networks isn’t converting effectively, look at why this might be. For example, do you need to look at developing better landing pages?

Understand how social your customers are

If you aren’t already doing much on a social network, now is the time to put your toes in the water and see how your customers react. Social media isn’t necessarily going to be a winner for every company and every audience.

So test it out first. Start a Facebook page or Twitter account. Listen to your audience. And see how receptive they are. Only investigate other options when you are sure this is right place for you to be.

Start using your Facebook page to promote products

The obvious next step when you are sure there is an appetite for social commerce is to begin marketing products on your Facebook account. 

Using the analysis goals I identified in point one, you can see how effective this is and whether it is driving sales.

‘Socialise’ your website

Another easy first step is to add social media sharing links to your website. Adding ‘like’ or ‘tweet this’ buttons is a great way to encourage visitors to share content with their like-minded friends on social networks.

With technologies like Facebook’s Open Graph, it isn’t hard to link this with activities you are engaged in on the site itself.

Use a Facebook shopping app

ASOS recently became the first UK company to launch an F-commerce (that’s Facebook Commerce) site, but they certainly won’t be the last. If your customers are using Facebook regularly, then it makes sense to let them shop there too rather than leaving to go to your website.

It doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to get going. Why not try a quick and easy solution to get your products on Facebook, such as the Shop Tab App, which just requires a CSV feed from your Google base account. The functionality is fairly limited, but it is easy to configure.

Investigate bespoke solutions

If you want to go for something more bespoke, then there are lots of options out there that will turn your Facebook account into a fully functional e-commerce platform.

One of the most detailed Facebook shopping pages comes from the very first company to try F-commerce, the American firm 1-800-Flowers. They use a system called Alvenda, which is actually a flash-based site, hosted on a different server and pulled in through an iframe.

Don’t just sell

The final point to make is that social commerce shouldn’t be all about selling. The companies that are achieving the best results here are using the social web (whether on their own site or on social networks) to add value to their customers’ shopping experience.

Engage with your community and give them a reason for communicating with you and their peers. Get this right, and the sales will come.

Ben Staveley

Published 7 March, 2011 by Ben Staveley

Ben Staveley is Head of E-commerce at dotCommerce and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

5 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Michele Neylon

Michele Neylon, CEO at Blacknight Internet Solutions Ltd

A basic thing that seems to have been overlooked by Heinz is security
If the transaction isn't properly secured it's not going to work or lead to sales.
Heinz, for example, are using a misconfigured SSL that's throwing all sorts of errors to end users.
Now why would anyone buy from them using that?

over 5 years ago


Chris Small

We think this year is going to be something of a watershed for social commerce. Not only are businesses looking to deliver a measurable return from their investment in building their social presence, but it's a logical step for businesses to enable someone to buy directly from say their facebook page, when most people 'like' business pages to find out about products, promotions and discounts (According to Compete.com 68% of people 'like' for this reason). At VendorShop we've seeing this play our - there has been a significant uplift in businesses using our free social shopping app for facebook iover the past 3 months - over 15,000 business are now using it.

over 5 years ago



well i used skype because it was fast and had no ads and now i have listen that from grouponbot.com that they will be having their posts on the skype for the windows user....is that true?

over 5 years ago


Allen Bonde

A useful list of tips which are all part of the puzzle. Interestingly the last point is probably the most important - 'Don't just sell.' In our experience social commerce is set up when merchants get people to participate with their brand in fun ways (think contests, games, private sales) AND tell their friends, who also participate, and so on. Creating these 'viral loops' via social campaigns (and using the 'language' of the social channel - Likes, comments, etc) is what separates social commerce from plain old e-commerce.

over 5 years ago


Chris Small

The point is made that a business shouldn't 'just sell ... but get people to participate'. While that is correct, having reviewed many of the 15,000 stores VendorShop powers, the biggest mistake that businesses make when it comes to driving sales on facebook in particular, is that they don't sell! Many don't even tell their 'fans' that they actually have a store on the page. There are two very important points for any business operating a facebook store to remember - 1. Most people 'like' your page to find out bout your product, promotions and discounts, so tell them. And 2. Use your wall like a shop window - draw people in.

over 5 years ago


Gareth Mee, CEO, nToklo

Social commerce really will be the key evolution in ecommerce over the next year and there are some great tips featured in this piece. However, when it come to ‘socialising’ an ecommerce website, companies can go beyond just adding ‘like’ or ‘tweet this’ buttons. Ecommerce companies should be looking to further integrate the social experience into their own sites, developing their own communities which leverage users existing social network connections. Users are beginning to demand a social shopping experience, and if retailers can offer social discovery options and greater personalisation on their own websites then it could be a real differentiator.

over 5 years ago

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