Social Commerce: Signs of the Tipping Point

Paul Fennemore

Having met with many major international organisations over the last few weeks about how they are adopting social media, I can see that they have recognised that they stand to gain so much more by making social media strategic.

Up until recently, most firms have been going through the experimental phases of social media adoption, otherwise known as trial and error. However, many brands are setting to make social commerce strategic in 2012.

Nokia are a good example. They have a very courageous plan called Share2Connect aimed at involving their whole organisation and business ecosystem in social commerce. Its intention is to de-silo their organisation, use their employees as an army of brand advocates, source ideas and innovation internally and externally thereby increasing time to market with leading products. Nokia is implementing social commerce systemically and systematically. Having seen their plan in detail it constitutes a major business process re-engineering program and you don’t get more strategic than that. I also happen to think it’s a brilliant plan.

Nokia, and others early adopters, use the terms social business or social commerce, implying that social media doesn’t do what social Web 2.0 can do for business justice.  I agree. Those firms that recognise the social is not about display ads prefer these terms. My definition of social commerce is:

“The use of social media formats, social media platforms and Web 2.0 technologies for commercial (or operational) purposes”.

Of course social commerce involves marketing and communications, but it is so much more powerful than that. Social commerce is democratising the way organisations work. It’s changing organisational structures from large centralised hierarchies to flatter dispersed business models, increasing outsourcing and improving supply chain management as well as enabling co-creation and co-production.  It’s happening before our very eyes.

Those firms who now recognise the potential of social commerce are girding their loins, taking a very deep corporate breath and going for it big time with big budgets in 2012. Way to go guys. However, one big issue for them is social commerce resources and skills, people who get social commerce, and these aren’t marketing and PR agencies.  Therefore, I foresee a new services industry emerging to help these companies along.

Paul Fennemore is a Managing Partner at Viapoint, specialising in Social Commerce.
e. paul.fennemore@viapoint.co.uk
t. 0845 319707

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