Welcome to Thanx Media’s “Elements of E-Commerce” blog series. Follow along as we wade through the nuts and bolts of e-commerce technologies that you need to know.

What is Social Commerce?

Social commerce (short-hand: s-commerce) is e-commerce that relies on user recommendations and peer-to-peer interactions to advertise and sell products. It taps into the excitement of sharing interesting content, the trust in personal recommendations, the sense of conversation that social spaces offer, and the sense of connectedness built by trends and communities. It is “social media meets shopping” as Heidi Cohen paraphrases, but happens in more ways than you might think.

Where is Social Commerce Happening?

So does social commerce boil down to Twitter advertising? Actually, bringing the social context into shopping includes social media sites, but also goes beyond. Here are Six Types of Social Commerce:

1.  Social networks—E.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Networking sites are a staple; they include advertising, let users share company-generated content, and also promote posting by users of their own pictures, thoughts and reviews. All of these get the word out about a company’s products and services. We’ll look more closely at s-commerce in the social networking world over the next several blog posts, so check back.

2.  Peer-to-peer shopping sites—E.g. Ebay, Etsy. A sense of community; that’s what excites users about peer-to-peer sites. These sites not only connect users as sellers and shoppers, but they rely heavily on shopper feedback and reviews.

3.  Coupon & group-buying sites—E.g. Groupon, Living Social. Trusted curation is the aim of these sites; they seek to connect customers with quality new companies. For example, Living Social has a goal of “Partnering with great local businesses to cultivate and share their deep knowledge of the iconic and the hidden gems in their neighborhoods.”

4.  User curation sites—E.g. Pinterest. Browsing through what has caught other users’ eyes again capitalizes on that sense of recommendations from a community. Users create their own trends by sharing and increasing a product’s visibility.

5.  Social shopping sites—E.g. Fab, Fancy. These are curated sites that place user thoughts, likes, and reviews front and center. They are something like going to the mall with friends, but on a screen. Visuals, social chatter and friendly reinforcement encourage customers to buy.

How many ways can we connect “friends” and “shopping online”? A lot more than are listed here. The key is think about how to tap into the positive feedback that a customer gets from feeling connected. In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at how social commerce can make your company part of the conversation at each decision-making stage of the customer’s buying process. Join us again.