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Social commerce is the integration of online commerce with social media websites. It encourages individuals to participate in social interactions on the business’ website to help either others or themselves when making a purchasing decision. Businesses offering social commerce usually offer a basic assortment of features, such as user ratings, user comments, forums, user-generating content sharing, and sharing of shopping cart or wish lists.
The main purpose of social commerce is for consumers to gain valuable advice or product knowledge from individuals they can trust before making a purchase. Businesses often achieve this goal is by adding the ability for individuals to add comments and ratings to product information pages. In addition, more companies are including Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet and Google Buzz buttons on top of product pages for individuals to view the number of times products have been shared or recommended to others. The easier it is to share links, the more likely individuals will take advantage of the opportunity.
An advantage of using social commerce is that it encourages consumers to share product information and advice within their own social networks. This is not only free advertising for businesses, but sales are more likely to increase as consumers share products they like with family and friends. For instance, when someone clicks the Facebook Like button on the top of the product page, the product name and description is shared with everyone in this person’s Facebook network. With one click, hundreds of consumers normally outside the business’ reach can view the product.
Success in social commerce requires marketers to talk to consumers instead of talking down to them. This can be accomplished by making sure their voice, words and tones are the same as if talking to consumers in person. Marketers must also work on encouraging conversations and questions in order to build and deepen customer relationships. The stronger its relationships are with consumers, the more likely their products, services or company will be shared through social networking websites or will receive positive ratings or comments on its own website.
Social commerce is constantly expanding to include new features and abilities. For instance, Facebook applications are being developed by larger businesses so that when their product or service is shared on Facebook, potential consumers do not have to leave the site in order to make a purchase. These types of applications allow businesses to convert more referrals into sales in order to take full advantage of social commerce.