The Economist Preaches the Four C’s of Social Commerce


A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), “The social shopper: harnessing the disruptive influence of social media,” sponsored by SAP, includes insight about the changing consumer/retailer dynamic and the substantial gap that exists between retailers and their efforts to capitalize on social media. 

The survey was based on 179 global retailers who were asked to “describe their companies’ social media strategies/investments — how advanced they were, whether they extended to all reaches of the organization and whether they were being monetized,” according to Gilda Stahl, editor of the report and senior editor, EIU.

Four themes emerged from the EIU survey, following four general principles:[more]

Consistency. Retailers need policies in place to ensure that their brand promise remains consistent across all media channels, including social media – even if the interactions on Twitter, Facebook and the like are less formal than traditional media.

Community.  Key to success is an understanding that social media is not purely a communications channel – in which the retailer controls the message – but more as a community of individuals who share an interest in a brand, or a product, or a category of products. 

Collaboration. Social media channels deliver the most value when they move beyond the customer service objective and when insights are effectively shared between different departments.

Commitment. For many retailers, the biggest challenge with social media is getting people throughout the organisation to buy into the benefits.  27% of survey respondents have budgets dedicated to social media marketing and 12% have added one or more full-time positions to support social media.

“Retailers are leveraging social media to manage and deepen customer relationships, address customer-service issues, inform product decisions, and even track their competitors, Stahl told brandchannel. “36% of survey respondents, for example, say they are using social media as a customer service channel, monitoring Facebook posts, forum comments and tweets for customer complaints and, importantly, taking steps to address those that are legitimate.”

She quoted Gary Wheelhouse, head of social media for Australian retailer Harvey Norman: “Twitter for us is like an 800 number.”  

As for analytics and measuring the effectiveness and ROI of social media initiatives?  

“Tracking the number of followers or fans is useful, but only if it gives a company some insight into customer loyalty, customer value, or its brand promise,” she commented. “There’s still much uncertainty about which social media metrics are most useful. Only 4% of respondents say they have advanced metrics in place that can tie social media campaigns directly to retail sales.” 

Read more key takeaways here.