Buy It Now. Is it actually time for social commerce?

Back in December, 2011 I wrote this post that discusses the potential of Facebook based commerce transactions:

Purchases made within Facebook accounted for about half a percent of Cyber Monday sales and while that sounds like a small number, it’s up more than 100 percent since last year’s Cyber Monday. Eighty-six percent of this year’s social network sales came from Facebook alone. Many brands are running holiday promotions through their Facebook pages and drawing purchasers in that way. By promoting exclusive offers, rewarding fans for sharing and providing a seamless experience companies have the power to make their Facebook stores somewhere that people go for the latest products and info on a brand.

Some of the best promotions that helped drive up to 800% increases in sales and conversions used Facebook in combination with traditional marketing for black Friday and cyber Monday promotions in a very unique way. Simply put, the deal to Facebook fans was better. There are several key reasons why this worked and why it was important for brands and retailers to use an approach like this. For several years these brands and retailers have built large fan bases and have focused on programs that were directed towards that single mission. Now that many brands and retailers have established large communities that have raised their hands and want to hear what they have to offer they can focus on new programs to help drive revenue and expanded social data.

Looking at how some of these programs were successful over the holiday shopping weekend, several best practices are starting to emerge. The first, and possibly the most important is the use of application authentication in Facebook. This allows brands and retailers to gain important social information and identifiable information about their fans, something that Facebook can’t deliver through a “like”. The next is that the offer needed to be compelling, exclusive to fans, and announced closer to the shopping weekend than traditional black Friday type marketing.

Our clients that used promotions and practices like the ones above can not only significantly drive extra revenue with a Facebook promotion but also had a noticeable increase in lead generation through the authentication of the shopping experience. Even though these are the early days in social commerce, some promising statistics are starting to emerge. Around 10% of orders that happened over the holiday weekend happened in Facebook when compared to “.com” ecommerce site. Cart sizes in Facebook have been larger, with one client seeing almost a 70% increase.

It’s becoming quite obvious that social commerce is here to stay as it establishes itself as the next net new channel that will touch ever other channel where products are sold, especially when peak shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday produce promising results like they did this year.

Although some of the thoughts and practices seem to be outdated and many of the companies that were competitors to ShopIgniter are now gone the social commerce trend is still slow. With Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook now offering native “Buy” buttons, I was hoping to see the second wave of social commerce but I haven’t seen any results to prove it isn’t bigger than 2011.