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Do’s and Don’ts of Social Commerce

July 14, 2008


Strategy and Audience

Do implement a social commerce strategy that’s compelling and fresh. Not every social commerce functionality is worth its development cost, which will largely depend on the type of product you sell, so talk to your web developer to create a strategy that works for you with the technologies that are right for your store.

But don’t assume social commerce is for young adults only. Yes, social media has had a bigger impact and use among younger audiences, but older groups are just as interested in it as millennials are. Young adults like the community aspects of social media and social commerce (features like community and product forums), while mature audiences enjoy shopping experiences that are enriched by comments from other buyers, helping them make a more informed decision.

Content and Feedback

Do monitor user content on your website. Product reviews and community forums are great tools not only for your customers to share their opinions, but for you to know your customers and make improvements to your store based on their feedback. However, they’re also an open door for inappropriate content, which you may want to take off your website as soon as it is detected.

But don’t remove negative reviews. According to research studies by Forrester and Bazaarvoice, less than 20 percent of user reviews are negative. But even that small 20% can make your online store more credible, and some may even help you sell ancillary products to overcome some of the products limitations (i.e. a negative review about an appliance’s short electric cord may prompt buyers to buy an extension cord, along with the appliance).

Customer Behavior and Privacy

Do analyze customer behavior on your website. Keeping track of items your customers are viewing, keywords they’re typing to find those items and links they’re clicking to get there, will help you customize their shopping experience with more intuitive navigation and features like product recommendations, YMALs (You Might Also Like), and personalized homepages.

But don’t be careless when it comes to user privacy and sharing customer behavior information with third parties. In November 2007, Facebook released Facebook Beacon, a system that allowed the popular social network to receive data from external websites, including several online stores. Shortly after releasing the application, Facebook users started complaining about having their activities monitored even when they logged off from the site. In addition, users weren’t allowed to opt-out, which triggered Coca-Cola (one of Facebook’s major partners) to withdraw from the program. Facebook has since made changes to the application and released a new version, but some think it may have arrived a little too late.