With today’s social and technological developments, it’s no surprise that many businesses use social media. The companies that know how to apply e-commerce on social networks are in a leading position. Social commerce, online shopping that is integrated into our use of social networks, has become a feature of our daily lives.

More businesses start to recognize the value in social commerce and know how to approach consumers. In terms of strategy, most companies choose to go on Facebook and promote their brands via fan pages or ads. Others choose to open a Facebook store with a direct-purchase option, which enables consumers to purchase items without leaving Facebook. Even pop stars like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber have an official Facebook store set up for their merchandise. Major companies like Starbucks and Best Buy are now among the top 50 Facebook stores.

Consumer behavior has changed with the rise of social media. A Pew study finds that 59% of Americans research an item prior to purchase. This generally means that they base their decision on online results, which gives brands a chance to persuade consumers to buy their products. Additionally, people are now able to leave reviews about a product and make recommendations to their friends online. Brands should use this opportunity to not only sell products, but also build an online brand community this way.

So, what are the best ways to gain valuable online consumers? Allow me to answer this question by giving a few basic tips:

–          Connect: This is one of the ground rules in social commerce as well as in e-commerce. People need to identify with your brand in such a way that they are more likely to choose your products over a competitor’s products.

–          Offer valuable content: Share entertaining and informative content that appeals to your target audience and be versatile in offers. Make sure that it has some meaning to them; for example, discount coupons, because everyone likes a good discount.

–          Campaign regularity: You can offer various types of offers, but keep in mind that consistently offering new content is important to create brand stability and familiarity among users.

–          Social sign-in: If you plan to run an external online store (not on Facebook), try to use social sign-in because it simplifies web registration for consumers. Moreover, it saves them time, which increases the chances of them continuing to your web store.

–          Mobile web optimization: According to Digby, 45% of mobile users shop online and this will keep rising. Having a mobile website that works flawlessly is a valuable benefit. Also, more and more people are using tablets to make purchases: another reason to optimize your website for mobile viewing.

–          Ask to share content: Do not hesitate to ask users to share your content, because this helps in creating brand awareness and building an online community.

 

More businesses and platforms will join this venture and more applications will be developed as well. I think it’s only a matter of time before Twitter (and other networks) will put a social layer on e-commerce. And there are also the group-buying sites Groupon and LivingSocial, which are location-based, and thus very effective for local businesses. These websites have opened doors for many businesses already by promising a certain number of customers to their partners. Finally, safe payments encourage consumers to shop online and I think that payment technology should be more advanced and simplified.

Social commerce might still be in its starting phase, but there is no doubt that this could be the number-one way of (online) shopping in the near future.