Every marketer has been dreaming of a day, a day when they can effortlessly turn their customers into sales people. An exponentially growing conversion force all focused on selling more of your product? I’ll sign that dotted line.
The promise land is fast approaching, and like the millions of settlers who first set eyes on California after journeying across the wild United States, expectations are high. Social commerce is going to revolutionize not just e-commerce but Commerce in general. That’s Commerce with a big C, meaning not just packaged goods and food, but retail, services, securities – anything that can be bought or sold.
How high are expectations? Some estimate spending on social platforms could surpass $60 billion by the end of this year, and I bet you’ve never given your credit card information to Facebook.
Once you do, and all it takes is a thumbnail scan to buy whatever you want as soon as you see it, the force of convenience will take over. No more need to create an account at each e-retailer site. No more need to trust that someone will deliver. You will be dealing directly with the biggest companies in the world.
Concretely, there are some major evolutions coming up that will enable social commerce. Top of the list is Facebook Marketplace. Thinks Craigslist meets eBay. When you see a buddy who is moving post that they are selling their couch, you can buy it directly on Facebook. Price too high? Make a counter offer. Haggle all you like, Facebook is about to become Facesouk.
Brands can already create storefronts on their pages in Facebook, so the Marketplace element will wade into uncharted territory. Just like social media upended the media dynamic by mutualizing communication, social commerce aims to open the marketplace of used goods to people who would never think of creating an eBay account, linking their bank to PayPal, and posting an item for sale there to sell to some stranger.
The key is the idea of the quick win. People currently use Facebook to hawk their used wares, why not make it official? There is no need for reviews because you already know the person you’re buying from. The credibility and trust is there.
It works the other way too. That guy from high school who is a total douche? You can see right through his post about how he’s selling “the best coffee machine ever.” Not buying from that Trump supporter!
Affiliate for the masses
Companies try to turn their customers into salespeople all the time.
“Get X number of people to sign up and get a bonus discount!”
“Bring someone new to the gym and your next month is on us!”
So far these systems are based on unique codes or links, or they require a new customer to take the time to write somewhere who got them to buy. As you can imagine, none of these schemes work very smoothly; friction is a killer.
That’s because there has never been a platform so ubiquitous that it can properly track casual affiliation. Facebook is that platform.
Facebook is the only place where people can recommend products, add a link to their post, and track who clicks that link. Cookies for first touch or last touch can be tracked through the conversion, which will become even easier when the purchase happens on Facebook itself. Right now the e-retailer controls the data, and they are more Darth Vader than Hari Krishna when it comes to sharing.
Imagine the possibilities! People rave about the shit they love all the time! “I just read this book, it changed my life!” Now it can change your wallet too. Post the link to buy the book and get a check for each person you convert? Who cares if it’s only 10 cents, it’s the tip of the iceberg.
Just look at the value of clicks on Google. For certain industries the clicks are relatively low, but they can still hover around 50 to 60 cents per click. That’s CPC, not CPA. How much would a company pay you for a conversion? Definitely a lot more. What about when we get into the high ticket items like Life Insurance? Companies pay astronimical rates just for clicks. If you are persuasive and generate sales, the mathematics make it possible to earn a living just from referring people to high ticket items.
Influence is going to convert directly into revenue.
Facebook has already turned into a dearth of shitty videos and clips that no one cares about except for the person who shared it. At 31 years old, my Facebook feed is full of ultrasounds and babies and people who are stuck at airports saying “This is the last time American!!” Do I really want to add in a rush of sales-focused posts like “I have Geico and it’s great, switch to Geico?”
The answer is fuck no. I don’t want to be exposed to the commercial aims of my friends. Most of the reason why people are my friends are because we don’t have a sales dynamic. I’ve never tried to sell anything to my friends, and I even feel bad when I post about my epic poem that’s for sale on Amazon. How quickly would you unfriend me if all I did was try to get you to buy shit through my posts?
Will the advent of social commerce drive people away from the very platforms that they use all the time? No one can say. But one thing is for sure, social commerce is coming, and those who find the right balance between product evangelization and pics of themselves at the beach will reap the benefits.