The Social Sell
We are all social animals. We love to share what we’re up to with friends, family and anyone else who’ll listen.
This love of sharing crosses over into our shopping habits. These days the purchase journey is as much about the sharing of the consideration process (hey, I’m thinking about buying a new tv), the research process (hey, any tv recommendations?), and the review process (this tv I bought is great) as it is about the sale itself.
Whether consumers are in the market for a new apartment, a self storage unit or a holiday, brands that are socially interactive make the process more friendly and personal, and therefore more of a pleasant experience worth sharing.
I’m not talking about hashtags here. Every brand has a swag of hashtags at all levels from the top down – brand, campaign, and product. Consumers are drowning in a sea of meaningless hashtags.
But by building the right kind of social sharing initiatives into your customer journey you can encourage customers to continue further along it towards purchase.
Let’s look at two social approaches that actually lead to increased sales conversion.
Recent social-platform-to-commerce integrations allow consumers to purchase items directly from posts – the equivalent of an impulse purchase in the shopping aisle.
For example, online commerce platform Shopify has recently opened up Instagram integration, allowing retailers to sell items directly from Instagram posts.
It makes sense that customers actively engaging with a brand on Instagram are already in the mindset to purchase, or at the very least consider purchasing. Making that purchase possible with one click of an enticingly shot image on a platform they regularly use is the kind of abbreviated consumer journey retailers have been waiting for.
Of course, these sales are part of the complex attribution model which grows ever more complex with the release of each new social platform and share-enabling API. But there’s no question that Social Commerce is the dream shortcut between consideration and purchase – matched only by positioning the Snickers bars right next to the cash register.
Also this past week, Facebook released a beta test of a new ‘Customer Chat’ plugin – part of Messenger 2.2 – allowing retailers to continue the same chat that began on their Facebook page, across to their website (desktop and mobile), leading to a more seamless social brand experience.
People talk about their purchase plans and decisions for a number of reasons. Validation is a big one. It’s good to feel you’ve made the right choice, or have friends say they wish that they, too, had bought that awesome thing you just bought.
The big players in this space built their whole business around the social sharing of reviews. For example, TripAdvisor, whilst it didn’t set out that way, quickly became the go-to place for customer-written travel reviews.
Who books a hotel room without checking the reviews on TripAdvisor first? Not me, that’s for sure. This social aggregation of public opinion is essential to the peace of mind and justification of purchases for a vast number of people.
Then there are online review platforms, such as TrustPilot, which plug directly into your website. TrustPilot enables existing customers to easily share their experience, so your potential customers can make informed decisions. These reviews and ratings can then be easily shared across the usual social channels, qualifying further leads and driving more sales.
The interesting point here is that TrustPilot, like all forms of customer reviews, allows for post-purchase sharing of the consumer experience, yet the consumption of that information by potential customers is fairly and squarely within the search and consideration period. It’s important to ensure this element of the sharing process reflects this in its implementation.
Building consistent and engaging social sharing abilities into your consumer journey, then, has to happen in a number of ways at a number of points if it is to be effective. From asking advice to expressing an opinion to enjoying bragging rights, a successful socially driven commerce channel allows your customers to feel good about your brand every step of the way.