The 2 flavors of social commerce

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In April of 2009, Jeremiah Owyang defined what he believed would be the 5 eras of social networks. His list was:

  1. Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
  2. Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
  3. Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
  4. Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
  5. Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services

As you may suspect, judging from the title of this post, it’s the 5th era that I wanted to talk about. The idea is simple really. It essentially means that businesses can utilize social media to collaborate with their customers to create products/services. Easy enough. We’ve seen examples of this like the Dewmocracy campaign and at Made.com.

Fast forward to today and I continue to hear the term social commerce thrown around in retail circles. I kept thinking; “Yes. That makes sense to have a designer partner with their fans to help create a new line. (It would be great to see a Facebook only line of clothing.) But that’s not what they’re talking about. They’re talking about what Diesel did with their Show and Tell kiosks Spain. People try the clothes on and then post them to Facebook from this online Kiosk. They get feedback from their friends and then make a purchasing decision. (We’ve recently recommended to clients that employees carry iPhones and do the same thing.)

Both of these have a tremendous value and simply live in a different position in the product lifecycle. I guess you could also say that Delta Airlines selling tickets directly from their Facebook page is social commerce but it just isn’t as sexy.

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I’m an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I’m currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I’m passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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