Friday, April 1, 2011

What is Social Commerce?

Yesterday, Matthew Mengerink of eBay announced they were working on a social commerce platform targeting developers like Bitmenu. The news came at Plug and Play Tech Center's International Expo, held in Sunnyvale, CA. This immediately drew our attention because of our experience providing a turnkey storefront for digital content publishers on Facebook. Having an allergic reaction to marketing terms like "social commerce", we had to step back and ask what it means.

What exactly is "social commerce"? Wikipedia would like to define social commerce as getting advise from trusted individuals prior to a transaction. It seems that there's a tremendous opportunity to expand that definition though, as so many companies are testing new ways to engage their audience.

We see the foundation of social commerce as "identity." If you don't know who a individual is, how can you call them trusted? There must be a way to identify who parties are before forming a trusted relationship.

Taken another way, if you see an individual's comments from a trusted network, even if you don't know (trust) the individual, you may place enough trust on the network to place more weight on their comments. In the early days, the internet placed a lot of weight on anonymity, but now with services like LinkedIn, and Facebook, we seem to be moving away from that. These services encourage real relationships and implicitly reject anonymous interactions.

We're taking action on this idea with some of our publishers. The book "Racing Yesterday" is being sold by it's author, Andy Baxter on his website.

Initially the book was available only as a link from the site, with a call to action to make the purchase on Amazon. When we added Facebook's social comment plugin to the the website, the uptick and analytics from sales were quite a surprise. Additionally, the uptick in physical sales of his book are on an upward path. As an author, why wouldn't you do this? We think that having real people comment, from the trusted Facebook network, helped make the difference.