It seems like you can find a new Facebook storefront popping up every day as brands try to crack the code on how to drive revenue on social channels. However, I think we are missing out on a big opportunity. You can create stronger communities and drive better social monetization by encouraging more evolved forms of engagement than what we see today.
Ultimately, there are three forms of engagement: you reaching out to your customers, customers interacting with you and customers communicating with each other.
When I was at Dell, I helped create the Tag Team Facebook application. While the application has not realized its full potential to date (looking out for phase II soon), this is a good example of customer-to-customer engagement– one of these three types of engagement rarely seen online.
The Tag Team application brings in ratings and reviews from Dell.com (via Bazaarvoice), which allows the app user to get product recommendations from other customers based on how they will use the products. Thus, enabling customers, not Dell, to advise the community. By leveraging the influence of word-of-mouth, it authentically fosters product interest, which leads to site traffic and ultimately conversion. While not all brands may be able to leverage these types of capabilities, they can still help facilitate customer-to-customer engagement in its simplest form, by posing open-ended questions to create conversations within the community.
A healthy community leads to brand loyalty, brand loyalty leads to brand advocacy, and brand advocacy drives sales. Encouraging communities to interact with each other in creative ways can drive interest in your products, strengthen your community and can ultimately lead to conversion. Brands that can figure out how to drive social commerce by effectively engaging their community with each other will put themselves at a competitive advantage.