Socialommerce

Second blog post for my social media course, originally posted on the program's Wordpress blog

I can’t count the number of times I have Googled to settle a decision. I’ve never been particularly good at shopping with other people because I tend to be easily swayed, only to regret it later. So when I realized I could settle most of those on-the-spot decisions with the help of social media, I became dependent on the forum.

Earlier this spring I was on a shopping spree at a thrift store when a pair of floral jeans caught my eye. They were the right size, looked brand new and had great colours – but I just wasn’t sure if I would ever wear them. To settle my dilemma, I searched Pinterest and found a long series of fashion photos with hundreds of outfits with floral jeans. I even found the exact pair I was holding, and I was digging the look, so I decided to buy them. Not only was I happy with my purchase but I got (and still get) many compliments on them. Thank you, Pinterest.




What helped me along in my decision was not just the variety of outfits, but it was more about the casual tone of the photos. While some had a magazine look to them, others were low quality snapshots from blogs that gave a "real" look to the item I was considering. Some of those photos could have been sponsored by the clothing brand in question while others were just bloggers who liked the product - and when it comes to fashion blogs, you often can't tell the difference.

The book Socialnomics calls this practice: Socialommerce. Brands are beginning to catch on to the fact that advertising is not about billboards and commercials where the products are pushed. Now, it’s about exposure and customer satisfaction. People want to see that products are worthy of their business and being used and enjoyed by real customers. And it reaches far beyond clothing items. I have searched for opinions on travel books, party venues, airlines, printing shops and even online courses. It helps you make a solid decision about products or services when you  receive first-hand accounts from real people with a customer's point of view. I’m currently planning a big trip for next winter and every time I click on a hotel website, I see the same buzzwords:
“Turquoise water. Towering palms. Calm breezes. Imagine yourself whisked away to a tropical paradise where you indulge in mind, body, and spirit, as you rediscover an oasis …"
That is an actual quote, by the way, but in my opinion, it’s an empty description. Before I waste any more time on buzzwords thrown in for search engine optimization, I head over to tripadvisor.ca or yelp.com and find out what real people are saying about these places – and that’s how I base my decision.
Socialommerce is practically forcing businesses to maintain integrity because people have the platform on social media to express their honest opinions.



So, if that particular hotel were to strategically update their website based on real opinions – they could highlight which features people are raving about and implement change, or at least address areas that still need work - and they could certainly forego the superfluous abstract description.

I think socialommerce, or a public forum on social media, can only help businesses improve themselves and gain trust from their customers.

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