Beyond Social Media Marketing to Actual E-Commerce

Shopping with Facebook and Twitter

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We talk a lot about social media marketing – using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to market brands and drive traffic to sites. There is no question that these can be effective tools for doing both of these things.

As time goes on, it may become helpful or perhaps even necessary to use these tools for actual e-commerce. The common thinking behind social media marketing is that you don’t want to be too sales-pitchy in your conversations, and in some ways that is still very true. However, while social media is largely about conversations, it’s not only about conversations.

As time progresses, social media becomes a lot of things to a lot of people. We’ve reached the point where social networks are simply "where we hang out" online. People are not only having conversations. They’re sharing pictures. They’re playing games. They’re looking for information. They’re using social networks to help them make purchase decisions. Sometimes this is through conversation. Sometimes it’s as simple as being a fan of a brand’s Facebook page and receiving timely updates.

Has social media ever led you to an online purchase? Tell us about it.

Facebook has virtual currency, and is starting to open up possibilities for transactions for physical goods. Facebook Connect has just been made easier for webmasters to implement on their sites. That’s huge. As people spend much of their time on Facebook, they are pretty much relinquishing a certain amount of trust to the social network, whether they realize it or not (and whether they should be or not, but that’s another issue).

If your site is plugged into Facebook via Facebook Connect, and they can log in to your site to make purchases just by being logged into Facebook, they may not find themselves as concerned with security issues. Security concerns have long hindered the true potential of e-commerce, and as a result, plenty of trustworthy e-commerce sites have likely missed out on tons of sales, just because of the distrust of the method of purchasing in general.

Now I’m not saying that Facebook Connect is a sign of security. In fact, some might even suggest that it damages security, simply based on the fact that Facebook is often associated with security issues. I’m just saying, users are always signed in to Facebook anyway, and if they see your site is connected with Facebook, they may have no problems signing in with their Facebook info.

Paul Dunay Talks Social E-Commerce"Facebook Connect would allow you to go to a Website like Dell.com and authenticate yourself using your Facebook profile, allow your identity to be known and access your friends so you could spark up a chat," says Paul Dunay, Global Managing Dir. of Services, Social Marketing with Avaya in an interview with eMarketer. "So I could say, ‘Hey, Jeff, I’m looking at this new fancy laptop or this netbook. I heard you bought something. Would you recommend this to me?’

"So you could almost take your friends shopping with you. That is the potential with this example," he adds. "We’re in a period now where we’re all starting to get comfortable with Twitter and get comfortable with using Facebook and LinkedIn and a lot of these other tools, and now we’re about to expand." 

You want to stay relevant in real-time searches to stay current in people’s minds as well. It’s simple branding. That doesn’t mean you have to send out excessive tweets promoting your product. It is information that Twitterers often seek, and by simply discussing information, you’re brand is still visible, even if that information isn’t directly related to your brand. Read this for ways to optimize for real-time search.

Also be sure to watch this video where Sheila Dahlgren of Adobe gives some predictions for the e-commerce industry, which include behavioral targeting and personalization tactics.

What role do you think social media will play in e-commerce in the future? Share your thoughts.

Beyond Social Media Marketing to Actual E-Commerce
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  • Guest

    The answer for that is NO. Not so far, anyway. Maybe it will in the future.

    • http://www.help-my-self.com Guest

      Well, some of the game are so addictive and competitive due to the social aspect – playing against your friends, that it led me to spend money on game resources. Brilliant and sad.

  • http://www.360-xbox-accessories.com Xbox 360 Accessories

    I need more post to learn more about SMM , Plz help me.
    great post…

  • Katex

    “We talk a lot about social media marketing – using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to market brands and drive traffic to sites.”

    Yes, we keep hearing about this – but when are we going to be told how to do it?
    I created facebook pages for four of the websites I manage, but so far I haven’t been able to figure out how to use them to drive traffic to these sites. As far as I can see, it’s just as difficult to get facebook users to visit a fb page as it is to get people to visit a website. Yes, you can set up groups (which I have), but fb is awash with groups that nobody ever visits. With personal pages you are limited to your own circle of friends. You could just as easily send them an email if you wanted to let them know about a service or product you were offering. Many fb users resent people using the network to promote commercial enterprises anyway.

    Exactly how does one use facebook to drive traffic to a website?
    I’d love to know.

    As for “Facebook Connect” – I’ve never heard of it. And I’m using fb every day. An explanation of what it is, and how it works, might have been useful.

    • Guest

      facebook connect enables a user to log in to a third party website using their facebook login, which grants the website access to their profile information, while also allowing the website to push notifications to the user, and make feed updates which the user’s friends might see.

      For example, if “John” were to come along to my site and buy an Xbox 360, you MIGHT post to his feed “John has just bought an Xbox 360 from MyShop” – obviously you would be choosy about the information you post about a user but that’s the kind of stuff you can do.

  • http://www.celticways.com John of Celtic Ways

    I would think e-commerce was a perfect cashflow solution for Facebook. I am surprised they have not established their own version of a PayPal kind of service and earn a small commission per transaction. However, if they did that I am sure it would lead them onto forming their own CraigsList or EBay kind of service. If so it must be defined away from the the social meet-ups and not within it. I wish the games and quizzes would have their own space outside the social arena too.

    I have made purchases through social recommendations on Facebook, and several people have booked my services out of conversation on Facebook. I prefer the social then trade approach to marketing than in your face advertising. Its a great formula. Talk to people about who they are and what they do, then through curiosity they ask what you do, and bingo if its for them its a sale. I find this works very well, both for having a good time with friends and for making a living without intrusion. Never had this success on Twitter though.

  • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

    Social media is the fastest information train on the web. If you’re not converting to sales then you’re either not tracking it correctly or just going about it all wrong.

    Take Twitter for example.. it’s everywhere and of course the life expectancy is up in the air as so many things are coming down the pike.. it’s what’s hot now and we use everything to our advantage to get our messages to our clients.

    Twitter.. well, we followed other owners, ceo’s and small businesses. What’s cool is the people that follow them started following us. Those 140 characters of text are POWERFUL!

    Just don’t bore people with .. I’m making coffee, eating lunch, going home.. others provide totally useless links to websites that are not even working or poorly designed. Thus all efforts are wasted and you kinda start questioning why your using it in the 1st place.

    Spam is a problem all over the web.. so those followers that are sex, dating etc.. just block them right away. You don’t want to just follow anyone and you also don’t want just anyone following you.

    Hope this was helpful.

    Follow Snerdey on Twitter!

  • Guest

    These are all just workarounds for a Shattered Ebay.

  • http://kaching-kaching.info kachingkaching

    Yes dont be pitchy with your business just know the importance of branding


  • http://www.enginedigital.com James

    Here’s a relevant example of social media marketing being used in service of ecommerce objectives (Clearly Contacts’ “Virtual Mirror”) – http://glassestryon.coastalcontacts.com/vm09/?c=us. Coastal Contacts formerly mailed glasses to clients to get them to ‘try-on’ the glasses before buying. Client asked to have a “Mirror” type application developed to replace this costly program. My agency developed an app that integrated wtih Facebook. The web-app allows a visitor to export their four favorite frames to Facebook. The export triggers a post to the users wall with a request to vote on the best pair. After the customer’s Facebook network issues its opinion, the customer can return and purchase with confidence. This of course assumes that a person’s friends wouldn’t willingly lead them astray…

  • http://www.kunocreative.com John McTigue

    I’m sure e-commerce is the next step for Facebook, or more likely the cause for a buy-out by Google or E-Bay. Facebook is a great big market, but there is no real marketplace. You can’t buy anything on Facebook, you can only find places to buy. This is exactly what they big e-commerce players want, and they will pay dearly to get 300 million users. The other attractive thing is the low cost of integration. With Facebook connect, you’re already there as far as gaining registered users ready to buy something – no need to reverse engineer anything. My guess is we’ll see an announcement early in 2010.

    • http://www.enginedigital.com James

      300 million users. Wow. That’s a delectable target, but do you think that the massive distribution of Millennials, Gen-X’ers, & Boomers in this tasty user group are going to be interested in buying stuff from a Facebook marketplace? How is the ecommerce experience going to be radically different? How will it add value and answer the WIFM question? Turning Facebook into a marketplace with a massive referral network attached to it might work, but this begs the question of why people connect to Facebook in the first place.

      I don’t think the platform necessarily lends itself to ecommerce. The purpose of user visits is founded on a completely different premise – connecting with friends, not buying stuff. Sure, the lure of silly amounts of interest data is almost too good to pass up for marketers, but how will users react. Users already have tons of options when it comes to ecommerce – why would a Facebook market be so compelling?

      Not saying I have a bulls-eye on this question. I’d love to hear more from you on how you think they will address this question and others that address the problems, which arise inside a network of user-generated content.


  • http://www.muncom.com free webstore

    Check this free webstore, this guys connect your free store, with social media, facebook for sharing and marketing.


    best regards.

  • http://www.oranzone.com Robert Perz

    Hello Chris,
    I really loved this Article since we at that time were in middle of the process making a shopping platform, fully integrated with Social Media. Timing was perfect!

    I invite all marketing professionals to have a look: www.oranzone.com – if you’d like to see a full demo about what we provide merchants, please do not hesitate contacting me personally: we have some dummy profiles, so you can follow the recommendation tacticts, friends purchase etc.

    So from this stage of, we can do live experience about this interesting issue.

    The site is available now – real products and merchants will go live in a couple of weeks in Europe :-)


  • http://www.onengagement.com DRAGOS ILINCA

    At uberVU we actually get dozens of customers per week through social media, purely through engagement. We mostly talk to people that are looking for what we’re selling, and offer to give them a demo. Most of them take us up on the offer and conversion rates end up being way better than most other channels we use.

    The only point here is that the method is not entirely scalable, as there isn’t enough volume of leads you can engage with, at least not yet and not for what we’re selling

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