Social Commerce: It’s all about numbers, isn’t it?

A question we’re often asked is what the critical mass of fans and followers are needed in order to make social commerce work. After all, it’s all about numbers isn’t it?

Well the answer is yes and no.

Of course the more subscribers you have to your blog, or the more fans/followers you have the more exposure you are likely to get, but this is not the key determinant of success.

Size Doesn’t Matter

The point is, if you have the skills and resources, you might strive to attract thousands of registered followers. But is blindly attracting users effective?  One thing for sure is that you are mistaken if you think that they are all listening and posting. Facebook might have 700 million subscribers, but actually this number is meaningless. What we need to understand is the different levels of user participation on social networks, not the total numbers of fans etc.

Perato’s law comes into force again – Only 20% of social network users are actually contributing, and to varying degrees.  So what are the other 80% doing? Well not much.  About 50% of all Twitter registered users set up their account and hardly ever go back to it.  In fact, on most networks, only 3% of users account for 30% of the regular postings.

Pecking Order is What Matters

It’s proving a challenge to segment social media users as we do for other channels of communications such as demographics, psychographics sociographics etc. so one way of segmenting social network users is by participation.

We call it the ‘pecking order of participation’, and it is characterised by some as:

General Social Network Users

  1. Intactives
  2. Spectators
  3. Joiners
  4. Collectors
  5. Crtics
  6. Creators – bloggers


Consumer Levels of Participation 

  1. Newbies or tourists
  2. Minglers
  3. Devotees
  4. Insiders

Quality not Quantity

The users who participate the most and have the most influence and are the ones you need to target.  Once known as opinion leaders, in the blogosphere they are termed as eInfluencers, Community Evangelists or Market Mavens (or as above, Creators or Insiders).

Whatever you like to call them these are the people who have the most influence, so it’s the quality of participants you have that counts and not the numbers. This is because if you are engaging with the eInfluencers then you will in due course get the volumes, but more importantly, users who in turn are likely also to be eInfleuncers. Then your network of influence grows exponentially and it is your ‘network of influence’ is what matters and not how many fans you think you have.

Who are eInfleuncers?

First of all, you are!

However, you can’t barge into a community and mouth off, nor can you blatantly advertise in online social spaces.  Try it, you will see your fans drop off in their scores, so don’t let the admen push you into spending your marketing budget on display ads, no matter how funky they look. Brand engagement in social networks dropped off by 19% in the first half of this year. Why? Because of the marketing agencies getting in on the act and telling brands it’s all about creativity. Wrong!

It’s about influence.  Influence is something that is earned. Influencers are naturally nominated, post frequently, have supportive and informative posts, their posts are deemed authentic and trustworthy, they always respond and now and they have a network of other such Influencers. Did you see the word ‘advert’ in this definition?

To find out more on a technique called Network Weaving, a really effective technique used to build a network of eInfluencers, you should speak to Viapoint