What is the potential of Socialommerce™? This was a new term I coined that encompasses the transactional and marketing pieces of social networks. We started to answer this question in "Social Media and Online Commerce: Birth of Socialommerce™."
However, before we get into that, several readers e-mailed me about the article, essentially telling me that social networks are just a fad.
While I agree that an Orkut or a MySpace may not survive in the long run (think Prodigy, Lycos, Inktomi, etc.), there's no question that social networks are here to stay. In the short term there's a tremendous amount of opportunity for marketers. Not everything marketers do will be successful, but the key is to start doing in order to learn.
Social Network Madness
How big are social networks becoming? Well, remember a few years back when at the end of commercials it used to prompt us with AOL keywords? You don't see or hear that anymore do you?
What do you see? People are sending this traffic to social networks. A very prominent and recent example of this is CBS sending a majority of their March Madness basketball traffic not to their own Web site, but to www.facebook.com/brackets.
Test Driving Socialommerce
Here's a real world example of what the future of socialommerce holds:
Jim and his wife just had their third child. With this addition, his two sedans won't cut it anymore, so he's in the market for a bigger vehicle. Having vowed to himself and his friends that he'd never own a minivan, he's in the market for an SUV or a crossover vehicle.
Jim is dreading the hours of searching on the Internet to find a vehicle that suits his needs. He's dreading even more having to leave work early to visit the car dealerships to test drive his array of selected vehicles and then begin the haggling process. Jim is also fearful that he may make a mistake even after all of his diligent research.
The majority of these pains will become things of the past with socialommerce. Here's why:
Jim performs a search on his favorite social network – he types in "buying a car." Rather than receiving a bunch of irrelevant ads for car trader sites he discovers the following:
- 23 of Jim's friends have purchased a car in the last year
- 16 of his friends are married with two or more children
- 14 purchased an SUV or crossover
- 9 purchased the same vehicle
Jim respects the opinions of the nine people who purchased the same vehicle, so he clicks to find out more, and gets the following information:
"I test drove Crossover X and Crossover Y. Crossover Y was the much better feel and it was easier to get into the back seat. Couple that with the fact that it gets 3 more mph to the gallon and it was a no-brainer."
Listed alongside the qualitative reviews are certain data points for each friend: price, vehicle, options, lease or finance terms, color, etc.
What does this mean for brand marketing? Well, it means that companies and marketers better start spending more time listening to their customers and potential customers and less time spending hours upon hours figuring out their next award-winning – but "no-customer-getting" – 30-second television commercial. Your power consumers are going to take ownership of brands, and their referral power is now on steroids.
Just as important as listening to the customer is acting on the information received and working with the product team to make quick adjustments. These certainly aren't new constructs, but in the age of Web 2.0, your brand will experience a quick death if these constructs aren't adhered to.
The days of traditional brand marketing aren't necessarily dead, they're just taking on various forms. We'll discuss these new brand marketing methods and philosophies in my next column.