Photo: Sander Spolspoel via Flickr
Social commerce, like all forms of online social interactions, is driven by sharing – getting users to share something (e.g., status update, tweet, pinned picture) or have them react to something that’s being shared (e.g., comment, repin, click on it).There have been a number of articles and even conferences about the rigorous analytics, or business intelligence, which can be applied to the process of inventing user sharing. But what ultimately drives sharing is more about EQ than IQ. We must figure out a way to activate an emotional trigger in order to get users to share or respond.
There are three primary emotional triggers that motivate sharing around commerce:
- This is me. We share or recommend products that express and validate who we are as individuals (or at least, what we want the world to believe about who we are). For example, I’m psyched to share that I bought a new backpacking tent because I fancy myself as an outdoor adventurer. On the other hand, I’m not interested in sharing utility purchases, e.g., that I just bought socks and underwear at Banana Republic.
- The helping hand. We turn to people we know and trust for advice on what to buy. This is much more efficient and effective than spending hours sorting through reviews from people we don’t know, for example, when we’re trying to pick the right gourmet blender to buy. Moreover, people we know are inclined to respond to our request for advice. It feels good to help people we know and share advice (especially in a public forum).
- FOMO (fear of missing out). We also use social to quickly and easily alert others about a great deal or opportunity. And people react because they don’t want to miss out, for example get a half priced Groupon for a burrito at Pancho Villa.
Once we, as users, are motivated to share — whether to signal who we are, ask a question, or alert others to an opportunity — it’s important for commerce applications to capture the “why,” not just what they shared. The reasons why users share both (a) evidence the emotional reasons they share and (b) provide an emotional trigger that make members of their network want to respond to what’s been shared. It may be interesting to know that I bought the tent; am looking for a new blender; and shared a coupon. But it’s much more compelling to see that I’m using the tent to go backpacking with my family in the Grand Canyon for Spring Break; that I’m about to radically change my diet and go on a raw food cleanse; and that I think Pancho Villa is the best burrito place in San Mateo.
Finally, when users are ready to make a purchase decision, our sharing behaviour it is driven more by a desire to get positive validation than the “right” product. I rationally want to select a product that best matches my specifications (e.g., a video camera with long battery life, easy to carry, good at kids shooting sporting events, etc). I emotionally want a product that will be positively affirmed by the people around me. I don’t want to buy a camera and immediately have someone ask: “Why did you buy that? You should have bought this one – it’s a little more money but it has this incredible feature.” We want to hear something like: “It’s so cool that you bought that. My friend has one and he loves it. I was thinking about getting one too.” Indeed, unless a user is a maven in a category (which I’ll leave to another post), the optimal decision is to get a good product that they know will receive positive affirmation (because it’s been socially recommended to me) then to take the chance on buying a product (that hasn’t been recommended) that only might be better.
After living downstream from search for the last decade, those of us in the commerce category are intimately familiar with analytics. But to thrive in this new world of social commerce, we need to rediscover the art of establishing and projecting emotional connection. EQ is quickly becoming as important as IQ.
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