Social networking sites have been around for over two decades.
However, it wasn’t until recently that many businesses realized that social media was a viable way to get the word out about their products or services and maybe even a place to sell directly to the consumer.
That doesn’t mean that these social networking sites weren’t trying to find ways to get businesses to use their sites to sell products early on, it was just that many businesses were slow to catch on.
While many social media platforms rely on advertising that ultimately drives users to advertisers’ websites, many of the most popular social networking sites have at least experimented with ways to get consumers to buy directly from businesses without even having to be redirected to another website.
To illustrate this, an infographic created by 16best.net has some interesting facts about social networks as ecommerce gateways. The part of the infographic that lists a “Timeline of Social Commerce” is shown below. Although not all inclusive, it highlights some of important points in the brief history of what people often refer to as social commerce.
Additional Comments on Social Commerce
In a blog post about social commerce on the Conversion Sciences Blog, Jacob McMillen states that, “Social commerce is selling that takes place directly through social platforms. Instead of using social marketing to drive visitors to your website, where you then convert them into customers, visitors are sold to directly on social media either in the form of a complete checkout experience or a “Buy Now” style click-through that triggers an off-platform checkout.”
It appears that this is what 16best.net is using as the working definition of social commerce in their infographic.
However, I need to point out that others have a much broader definition of social commerce. If you are interested, Wikipedia.org has additional information on social commerce and its other definitions.
As shown in the infographic provided by 16best.net, many of the most used social networking sites are constantly looking for ways to help businesses convert sales directly on their sites without redirecting users to another website.
This is good for the businesses selling the products because it reduces the number of steps needed to make a conversion, thus eliminating some of the lost sales that might otherwise occur because of website friction.
It is also great for the social network because it adds value to their service, not to mention the fact that it keeps the user on their site.
Remember this is only a small part of the story, as social media is often used for reasons other than conversions. In fact, often social media is part of the awareness and consideration phases of the buyer’s journey. (Note: This depends on the type of product, of course.)
That said, from a business standpoint, it is important to keep up with the options available so that you can reach your customers where they are when they need your product.
Again, your business might experience increases in sales by taking advantage of the social commerce options available, because there are fewer chances to lose the customer in the conversion process.
Infographic credit: 16best.net blog.