Published on: September 9, 2014by Michael Sansolo
It may have been one of the worst commercials of the 1980s, yet in retrospect it was loaded with foresight. You may remember the ad: actress Heather Locklear waxed so enthusiastically about her Faberge Organic shampoo that she promised to tell two friends.
Then as the screen kept splitting into additional images, Locklear promised that “they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and so on…” Go figure. Heather Locklear understood social media before the phrase even had been coined.
Throughout this summer we’ve all watched countless connections dump ice water on their heads in the name of helping cure Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. And each person then challenged two or three friends and they challenged three friends and so on…to the tune of more than 1 billion video views and $110 million in donations to date.
In contrast, Stand Up to Cancer boasts countless celebrity supporters, a telethon that ran recently on 31 different networks and a disease that sadly we all know far better than ALS. After six years of such efforts Stand Up has raised $261 million—a really fabulous total, but far smaller on an annualized basis than the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Just like that, we see the changing power of communication. Today we are all selfie-taking celebrities, connected to our own networks and, as the Ice Bucket Challenge demonstrates, able to make it rain.
Businesses - as Kate McMahon recently wrote here in MNB - better take notice.
Viveca Chan, the chairman and CEO of the We Marketing Group in China, says this change is all about the future of marketing and business. Social commerce, not e-commerce, says Chan, is the wave of the future. Companies will win by engaging customers, turning them into advocates and getting their connections to become buyers on their own.
Chan, who I recently heard speak at a TCC Global conference in Hong Kong, says the long sought after return-on-investment from social media comes in how companies engage and acquire the fans coming to them via social networks. And, of course, how they convert them into buyers.
Caroline Cotton is one of those who believe it can be done. Cotton, a long-time friend who previously ran a company that provided organization and standards to sampling, has formed Social Sampling Inc., believing that the powers of samples and social can be combined.
It’s an intriguing idea. We know sampling delights shoppers. At best, sampling leads to product trial and purchases. At minimum, sample stations create in-store excitement, an important tool in the world of e-commerce.
Cotton’s idea is to engage shoppers with samples and use those social connections to get them to share the news with others. In other words, they tell two friends and so on…and maybe you have a connection to additional customer traffic and new potential sales.
It’s a simple demonstration of what Viveca Chan says is the future: social commerce or connections that lead to purchases. If it can work for buckets of ice water imagine what it can do for a sample of ice cream.
FYI … A detailed guide to using the social web was created by the members of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council, where I serve as research director. It can be downloaded for free by clicking here.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here.
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