Social Commerce Tools and Trends

Jun 28 2011

A morning at Portland State University with Meridian, ShopIgnighter, MonsoonWorks, Groupon and Mambo Media

Despite the early morning hour, there were many lively presentations on Social Commerce to be heard last week at the Portland State University Digital Marketing Breakfast.  Boasting a docket full of Portland-based companies, the talk of Social Commerce was both enlightening and, to be frank, heartening that there is growth in creative technologies coming out of P-town.

The Social Commerce Speaker Line Up


Jeff Krueger of MonsoonWorks kicked off the event emphasizing the power of referral networks and social relationships when it comes to the buying decision.  MonsoonWorks provides marketplace commerce software to retailers, specifically those who sell more than $10,000 per month on Amazon and eBay, so they know thing or two about enabling commerce online.  If you are an active retailer on either of these networks, you must check out MonsoonWorks!


Next up was Jeff Hardison of Meridian, suppliers of mobile commerce solutions like the nifty Powell’s Books app that accounts for more than $50,000 in increased sales recently.  Jeff emphasized the importance of directly calculating the ROI of social media interactions, which can be done with increasing efficacy these days.  Jeff made a powerful argument for the “get it now” social commerce explosion that is upon us.  I’m keeping my eye on these guys!


Kerry Finsand of Groupon Portland joined us to discuss the truly remarkable growth of group couponing sites in the last three years.  Groupon has had its share of negative press on the eve of their IPO, but I really liked the shift in strategy Groupon is making to accommodate their client base, like off-hour coupons for restaurants trying to fill seats during the lull between lunch and dinner.  Despite some bumps in the road, I expect Groupon to continue to be a leader in social commerce.


I was really looking forward to Alan Wizemann’s presentation ever since I read about their latest round of funding to the tune of $8million from Trinity Ventures and Madrona Venture Group.  What a great story of a good idea, a strong start-up team, and a whole lot of hard work that has really paid off.  ShopIgnighter enables social commerce transactions on the Facebook platform, and more importantly, directly within the stream of wall postings to capture impulse buying and capitalize on eye-catching promotions.  This stuff is super cool and definitely one to watch!


Finally, it was my turn. Mambo Media’s focus was on digital marketing trends as they relate to social commerce, and they include:

  1. Social SEO – your performance in organic search will now be impacted by how many people “like” you and who they are networked with…social shopping is right around the corner and if my friends prefer a brand I’m going to know about it simply from a search on Google or Bing.
  2. Celebrity (or Micro-celebrity) Marketing – Lady Gaga and Starbucks join forces to dominate social shopping, but you don’t have to be a goliath to leverage celebrity.  Find your own micro-celebrities and engage them, send them free product, get to know them.  They might just push several hundreds, or thousands, of shoppers your way.
  3. Facebook and Twitter Stream Commerce – ShopIgnighter is leading the way and making it easy for retailers to sell on Facebook, and you will see more and more opportunities to purchase within the stream.  Amazon is doing some CRAZY stuff in Twitter…keep an eye on that one!
  4. Contextual Social Commerce – Blogs continue to boast some of the highest conversion metrics because people want to know in a product before they buy and blogs bridge that gap better than anything else.  Blogs give the best wrapper to products because they provide context – recommendations, advice, what the product is best for, and what it’s not going to do for you.  Sellers, get to know your industry’s bloggers!
  5. Group Couponing – Product retailers and service providers are becoming more savvy, mature group couponers and that will ultimately benefit everyone involved.  Deals will come faster, be more relevant to the individual, and truly benefit the vendor.  Nobody wants to wait two hours in line for a hot dog because you accidentally got caught in a Groupon frenzy, but two hot dogs for a $1 during a slow time can really be good all around (especially if it’s an organic, vegan, locally-sourced hot dog – it’s Portland after all)!

Social Commerce Tips from the Pros

I will leave you with some tips from the expert panel.  Below is an aggregate of all the tips provided as part of the presentations.  See what you can do with these nuggets of wisdom!

  • Have a multi‐channel game‐plan
  • Positive interactions & engagements at all touch-points
  • Demonstrate passion
  • Treat prospective customers as partners
  • Get started now
  • Treat it as a business priority, not an afterthought
  • Engage your social followers
  • Focus on the positive
  • Measure the results you do have
  • Do what fits your organization’s culture
  • You need a strategy! Use a phased approach: crawl, walk, run.
  • You don’t need to do all of these options all at once. Find the one that is BEST and EASIEST for your business and start there.
  • Make sure you’re ready for the next step, but don’t be afraid to test and learn

For the complete slide deck of the Portland State University’s Quarterly Digital Marketing Breakfast Series, click here. Or search on Twitter using the hashtag #pdxdms.

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Siouxsie Jennett
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