In 2012, a lot of money has been invested and a lot of digital ink spilled on the integration of social media and e-commerce. Is social commerce about integrating social media into e-commerce (and improving the ROI and experience of e-commerce), or about integrating e-commerce into social media (and improving the ROI and experience of social media)? Is the end-user value proposition of social commerce about helping people connect where they buy, or about helping people buy where they connect? Or more fundamentally, is social commerce just a passing fad, and ultimately an oxymoron – shifting stock and social sharing – they just don’t fit?
One way to cut through the hype and spin of social commerce is to look a the slow but thoughtful moves of Amazon in this space.
- Step One: Offer simple and useful social features on your e-commerce pages – ratings, reviews and recommendations that allow customers to share opinions, feedback and behaviour.
- Step Two: Use social data to personalise social features on your e-commerce pages – personalised advice, sharing and recommendations – by integrating with social networks (e.g. Facebook’s Open Graph)
- Step Three: Use social marketing to close the loop between social media and e-commerce – Amazon’s new ‘Pages’ product allows brands to cross post news to their own branded Amazon pages and measure the impact (reach, views, considerations, and purchase lift)
With the release of Amazon Pages, brands and retailers can now create their own branded e-commerce store on Amazon, with a dedicated URL (amazon.com/mybusiness) – that look like a combination of Facebook and Twitter Pages (big header image) above 140 character ‘posts’ (with images) that can be cross-posted to Facebook (and soon, we assume, to Twitter). And through integrated analytics, brands and retailers can measure the commercial fruits of their social efforts. As well as appealing to luxury and lifestyle brands that have been hitherto wary of the cheap and cheerful image of e-commerce and that certainly don’t want their GODs (goods-of-desire) appearing in a an Amazon marketplace alongside diapers and washing powder, Amazon Pages will appeal to businesses who want to use social to support sales – and not the other way around.
Social Commerce Today took off as an industry blog when we created controversy by arguing that Amazon didn’t miss the social commerce boat, it built it. Two years later, we need to update our view – Amazon didn’t miss the social commerce boat, it is building the social commerce boat. The boat is still being built – but it is looking stronger and more solid by the day – and distinctly Amazon flavoured.
So before you string together a social commerce raft made out of bits of Pinterest, G+1, Twitter, Facebook, startups and other social software, check out what your social commerce boat – engineered by Amazon – could look like. And if you are thinking, like so many other businesses that you need to rationalise/streamline your social activity in 2013, you may find your Amazon Page a whole lot more useful than some other social media pages.