Reporting on a session held at the recent SES New York conference, ClickZ contributor Rob Graham said that, “social commerce is about providing consumers with a meaningful experience and then giving them the opportunity and tools to share that experience with others.” Graham went on to outline four best practices that retail brands need to consider when seeking to provide such experiences:
Make it easy for customers to make an informed buying decision – Graham suggests that, rather than preventing customers from comparison shopping, retailers should make it easy for them to do so by providing easy access to ratings, reviews and product listings that help the consumer to make smarter purchase decisions.
Consumers respond to brands that can give them easy access to tools they need to share a brand offer or message with other people – Based on consumer’s apparent need to share, retailers should provide the necessary tools on their websites to facilitate social sharing. That means including sharing options to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others.
Make a message “sticky” by offering consumers a meaningful experience – Graham said that, in order to be most effective, brands must create ways to engage consumers so that they garner more time and attention and tell a more complete brand story.
Don’t minimize the value of social media sharing opportunities – When implementing social sharing opportunities brands should consider the needs of consumers and how they can make the best use of each channel to share product information with others.
Part of the emphasis in each of these best practices is to help consumers connect where they buy, which is one half of the social commerce equation (the other is to help consumers buy where they connect). His point is that gaining a better understanding of how social commerce works from a psychological perspective is the real key to maximizing its effectiveness.
That does not undermine the need to provide useful tools to help customers make better informed choices. However, simply providing tools absent an understanding of the psychological motivations that drive consumer engagement won’t get the job done.
Tools are not an end in themselves, but are a means by which retailers can harness the power of social influence and social learning. But providing useful tools combined with a proper understanding of the psychological understanding of what drives consumer behavior is the one-two punch that enables them to deliver “meaningful experiences” that will result in generating greater customer loyalty, advocacy and, ultimately, revenue.