• Return on Relationship™

We’re hearing more and more about “Social Commerce” these days – but how many of us actually understand its implications?  I’ve spent years in the midst of the evolution of commerce: As traditional commerce shifted into a digital world, becoming e-commerce, and now evolving through the evolution of social media into Social Commerce. The implications here are huge because the maturing of Social Commerce is… Relationship Commerce.

There are some guiding principles to Relationship Commerce.  None seem drastically different on their own; though they seem radically new when applied to the realm of commerce:

  • Relationships matter.  Discovering something you love is great, learning about it from someone you trust is even better.
  • Buying from someone you like is way more fun and rewarding than buying from someone you either do not like, or have no feeling one way or the other.
  • Shopping can be better.

Relationship Commerce is simple yet novel, it’s buying from people, brands, and entities you know and trust and learning about through social channels in a way that is authentic, natural and a part of your daily interactions. If marketing is relevant, it is a “service” NOT a “promotion.”

But in a fast paced, digital world, defining and maintaining our relationships has become unexpectedly difficult.  Social Media has enabled us to connect with an infinite number of individuals; it has given us the tools to extend relationships that years ago would have been impossible.  But in many respects we are failing and simply starting to believe that a “follow” or “like” is a relationship and after that we can simply move on to the next. This is not an email list or a database. We must be certain to remember: “Social Media is a facilitator of relationships, but it is not the relationship itself.”  You have to give to get. No relationship can survive without trust; it’s so simple in concept yet not always easy to execute.

With effort, a relationship may begin from the request of a Facebook friend or following someone on Twitter; but make no mistake – that initial request or follow will never create the relationship.  Trust is built upon interaction, when you’re true to your word, authentic, and genuine. To build relationships online, you (as a brand or individual) have to offer value in return. Be it via valuable information and content, or personal introductions, engagement and interaction… connection will remain key.

By asking questions and proposing ideas, you can engage your followers in such a way to give them the ability and reason to respond. Then when they do respond, interact with them to solidify your relationship, lest it fade away. Directly acknowledge their response, ask follow-up questions and share their insights with others.  Follow me on Twitter (@tedrubin) and you’ll see what I mean. The more responsive you are to your audience, the more responsive they’ll be to you. And that’s where relationships are born. It is this interpersonal exchange, the relationship, which differentiates Relationship Commerce.  You might even consider picking up the phone sometime and actually talking to someone… or even to many. Life is not just about financial exchange, and neither is commerce… especially in today’s hyper-connected “click here to share” world.

The way I see it, we’re overdue for a revolution in retail.  So many of us have been sharing our passions and discoveries, it’s about time brands and retailers took notice, gave us a voice, embraced the consumers perspective, and realized how our social presence can enhance their bottom line.

Originally posted at Collective Bias


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