Social shopping relays an e-commerce method of traditional shopping in which consumers shop in a social networking type of environment. Social shopping sites reflect users’ personal tastes and allow for online conversation. Visitors can learn what’s popular, get shopping ideas, and follow links to products they wouldn’t necessarily find on their own.
Using the wisdom of crowds, users communicate and aggregate information about products, prices, and deals. Many sites allow users to create custom shopping lists and share them with friends. Others concentrate on the user interactions and recommendations based upon peer-to-peer social relationships and credible users. While Web 2.0 is slowly morphing new direction, social shopping is still trying to hit mainstream. Compared to many Web 2.0 sites, social shopping sites are slowly growing but still growing hand over fist.
Social shopping combines two of the Web’s most prominent activities: engaging in commerce and chatting with like-minded folks. The sites don’t directly sell things, but encourage users to share links to:
- Hot products
- Good finds
- Weird finds
- Quality products
- Products to avoid
Internet marketing with social shopping
The rise of social shopping provides Internet marketers with even more opportunities and challenges, online. This many-to-many form of word-of-mouth marketing offers a wealth of opportunities for Internet marketers with limited client budgets to work on. This also creates a great opportunity for online retailers to engage in some low-cost, word-of-mouth marketing.
Internet marketers need to take heed of the many facets of marketing with social shopping. These elements include:
Product recommendations that come from social users with credibility may be more trusted. Therefore, site visitors may return more often and be more likely to spread the good word and purchase the products they learn about on the sites.
Marketing Opportunity: Start building up your own social shopping accounts to learn the sites in and out. Then, start contributing to the community and building a fan-base for yourself, thus giving you credibility. Once a network of followers or friends is built you can lean on them to help promote and review your products.
Users have many tools at their disposal for sharing and collaborating products. Browser bookmarklets, widgets, wishlists, profiles, buzz measuring features, and more help users interface with one another.
Marketing Opportunity: These tools allow marketers to analyze the current sentiment and interest around brands and products. Utilize these features for market and user research.
By its nature, social shopping is more likely to impact brand awareness, purchase consideration and intent, but not necessarily direct sales as much as one might expect. The ROI is likely not fully there quite yet until social shopping hits the mainstream.
Marketing Opportunity: Some social shopping sites offer the unique opportunity for brands to connect with their audiences by integrating with and/or creating shopping communities often with direct communication capabilities within the network.
Get your e-commerce clients involved in social shopping now while it is early enough to become a maven in the communities, promote with ease, and be heard. Once you establish yourself and clients’ in a community early on, this opens many doors of further opportunity down the road.
Social shopping sites to get started with
Right now, Kaboodle.com takes the cake as far as having the largest community, most unique visitors, and friendliest UI. Here’s a full list for you to start with though:
Marketers will be interested in a brief look at compiled demographic data for social shopping and review sites compiled from Alexa, Compete, and Quantcast thanks to SocialMediaTrader.com:
Proceed to checkout
The Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs) should take a close look at social shopping and consider an integration of the two. As the people’s voice continues to grow louder and louder online, the synergistic approach of combining CSEs and the e-commerce experience with social shopping could but the biggest key element in the future for online shopping.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.