What’s the reward for being a loyal follower?

Recent research published by Havas Media Social and Lightspeed Research has discovered that almost half of consumers aren’t interested in buying via social media platforms. They found that 44% of the UK social networkers they spoke to are “not convinced” about social commerce, and only 11% have actually purchased via social media platforms.

I’ve commented on social commerce before, my main gripe being: why aren’t retailers joining the likes of ASOS and HMV in selling through Facebook?

Asking them if it’s wise to be so hesitant when, according to a report by content distributor GoViral, Facebook is significantly more effective than other social networks as a platform for sharing content? These new research results, however, seem to suggest that these brands instinctively recognised the limits of social media platforms and are now being proved right for holding back.

So, is this sounding the death knell for social commerce? I would suggest not, but only if brands realise that, as a channel, it requires it’s own USP when it comes to selling. Of the 1000-plus respondents, 25% said they would buy via Facebook if it was unavailable anywhere else. The results also showed that 77% would buy using social media if deals or products were targeted via previous shopping behaviour.

It appears that rather than being tentative in their approach to social commerce, seeing how it pans out for others before taking the leap, brands should instead be taking an active approach, with innovation being the means to its success.

Nickelodeon recently announced plans to launch a one-off Spongebob Squarepants story exclusively on Twitter. As well as being a first for the children’s broadcaster, it is a prime example of how a brand can use social media to offer something unique to its followers.

The digital industry has often said that brands need more than just a Facebook profile and a Twitter account, with a few a thousand followers to make a success of social media, and many brands have made a good go of delivering interesting content (Skittles for example) and this is a good start. But in terms of social commerce, brands need to start thinking about how its fans and followers can be rewarded for their interest – they are far more likely to be encouraged to spend if they are being offered something interesting and different to what they could find if they chose to visit the official brand site.

Social media is primarily a medium for people to exchange personal snippets of information to extended family and friends, and brands to a certain extent ought to be grateful that they’ve been invited into this space. Now its time for retailers to reward this interest by giving consumers something exclusive – this alone will be the key to social media being assimilated into mainstream ecommerce.