The Rise of Social Commerce

Last week I had the pleasure of attending The Altimeter Group’s first conference, The Rise of Social Commerce, in Palo Alto, California. This was an amazing event with an outstanding line up of industry leaders and innovators who are changing the way we make buying decisions online.

As I developed and continually updated the conference’s website leading up to the event, I knew it would be a heck of a time, and it did not disappoint. Over on the Proof Branding blog I shared daily video recaps with key-takeaways and actionable items, Below is a summary of what I took away from my adventure on the west coast…

Episode 1: Power to the Consumer

In the video below, I introduce The Rise of Social Commerce and pose the following three questions:

1) How are big businesses using social media to their advantage?

2) How does social media redefine “marketing”?

3) How does social media change (and improve) the customer “experience”?

Episode 2: Are You Enhancing the Customer Experience?

In the video below I summarize three key takeaways from day one of The Rise of Social Commerce.

1) Social media allows businesses to not only provide GOOD customer service, but to DELIGHT customers and create life-long relationships. Use the tools in front of you to your advantage, and focus first on building trust and earning respect well before ever trying to push a sale.

2) Go where your customers are. It seems self explanatory but it is often forgotten. Don’t walk into the board room and say “We need to be on Twitter” – instead, think about where your customers are, listen to them, THEN plan a strategy that takes you where you’re customers live online.

3) Dell is introducing a ‘Social Media Command Center‘ which will essentially act as a 24/7 outbound call center – a force of people who are 100% committed to genuine (proactive) social media engagement. This is a trend I believe will really catch on in the next 1-2 years as companies realize that to be most effective, social media marketing needs to be timely and engaging.

Episode 3: Think Big. Start Small. Grow Fast.

In this video I wrap up the second and final day of The Rise of Social Commerce with four takeaways.

1) Less is more. Self explanatory but again, often neglected. Don’t make it complicated for your customers to navigate your site and complete transactions. Simple and clear navigation with obvious calls to action is the way to go. Look at your own website and count the number of clicks it takes for people to get in touch with you, to see your work, to get back to the home page. For us at Proof, everything is one (maybe two) clicks away.

2) Embrace (and use) negative feedback. Negative feedback can actually be a very positive thing. It shows that you, as a company, are willing to accept now only the love and praise, but the constructive criticism of your products and services. All of this adds to the credibility that you aren’t “afraid” to put your product out there – because you believe in it. Also, when faced with negative feedback, think about how you can spin it and transform the negative into a positive experience for your customer.

3) Pay attention to the customer’s EMOTIONAL experience when they visit your website. Think about how you can create and tap into the feeling a customer and site visitor should get when clicking through the pages of their site. Create calls to action that catch them during those ‘emotional’ moments that can lead to profitable transactions.

4) Think big. Start small. Grow fast. Just ask Nicole Crimaldi, this is something I’ve talked about with her time and time again – and it’s important to remember for us idea-crazy, career ADD people. Big ideas are great, but don’t start huge – think realistically and start small, but most importantly, don’t hesitate to hit the ground running and grow rapidly.

These posts can be seen in their original entirety over on the Proof Branding blog with the following links:

Popping the Social Media Bubble

Recently, Courtney Dial, the founder of Pizzazzerie, wrote a great piece on Arment Dietrich’s F.A.D.S. titled “Why is Generation Y Not on Twitter“. The title alone had me thinking because, it seems like the vast majority of you out there seem to think that, well, everyone is participating in Social Media these days.

They’re not.

You and I are in the minority. The active Millennials on Twitter still represent the ‘early adopter’ phase of an entire generation. Don’t believe me? A recent study by Pingdom present some pretty surprising statistics. In short, you and I as twenty-somethings are not, at all, the majorty of the population on the Social Web.

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Mashable: A Model for Success or Selling Out?

Mashable | All That's New on the WebAn interesting conversation amongst some friends and acquaintances took place yesterday on Twitter in which we were discussing the value of the popular Social Media “news” site Mashable. Maybe you read Mashable, maybe you don’t, Maybe you love it, or maybe you can’t stand their intertwining of Social Media news, PR reports, and celebrity gossip. Maybe you think Mr. Cashmore is a sexy dude, or maybe you’d label him as a total d-bag.  To each his own.

Let’s face it, we all think we are or want to be “right” – even if we won’t admit it, even if we’re the most open minded person on earth, our own opinion still seems more “right” most of the time, because, well, it is our own. You can argue all day long that you love or hate Mashable – but ultimately there’s going to be some people who think it’s crap and some who think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. There is no right or wrong.

Evolution is inevitable – things change, topics shift, markets and demographics vary. Mashable may be on the decline for people who used to rely on it as a valuable source of online marketing information – but for the millions of other people who want to keep tabs on Ashton Kuther’s Twitter following, Mashable is happy to oblige. Somewhere along the way the Mashable crew saw an opportunity to reach new heights, and they have.

What else is Mashable doing? As David Spinks so aptly put during this conversation – Mashable is doing wonders at bridging the gap between our tight-knit community of bloggers and Social Media gurus and the rest of the general population. We’re quick to forget there is a whole world out there of people who could care less about blogging and Twitter, but may want to know about the latest Apple release or Google Announcement. A platform like Mashable gives “our” community and the rest of the online demographic a place to come together, for better or for worse.

I hope that’s what this blog becomes – a place for online gurus and  ‘everyday Internet users’ to come together and chat about life, careers, Social Media, whatever. I don’t want to segment myself too closely to one specific niche or group. My writing, and the writing of most of you out there, can and does apply to a much wider audience than you think. It’s just about catching the attention of those who would otherwise overlook your brilliance.

Mashable may be totally useless. You may never read a single post they publish again in you’re life. But when you don’t – someone else will. We’re not going to all find value in the same things. And that’s OK – that’s what makes reading and writing so much fun – because there’s SO much out there, and such a wide spectrum of information to consume and enjoy. At the heart of it all, you should be writing about what you love, about what interests you – and if someone else, even if it’s only one out of a hundred, finds value in what you write – isn’t that enough? Isn’t that what it’s all about?