The world today is the world of online activities. People go online to do everything they need, from learning, working, playing games to online grocery shopping, etc. Because the massive number of online transactions keeps increasing day by day, the world has focused on developing some methods to guide and attract consumers to their specific needs, e.g. social commerce. Starting slowly in 2005, social commerce has risen and spread like wildfire on the Internet, especially in China – the most populated country in the world, attracting hundreds of millions and even billions of customers. So, to cope with the new era, what should businesses prepare before the new surge of ‘social commerce’ in China?
The impacts of social commerce in the world
Basically, social commerce is the process of selling products directly on social media. Different from the old days when people have to physically go to a store/shop and pick among hundreds or even thousands of products that they may not want or are uninterested, nowadays, with social commerce, the people can have the entire shopping experience from product discovery and research to the check out process all on their phone or computer without the need to go anywhere and can find what they need/want in an instant.
Social commerce has many different varieties. For once, some sites integrate payment and logistics into a single app. Other social commerce sites serve as a platform for connecting users and their wares to buyers. The payment and the logistics of these sites are controlled and managed by third-party services.
Social commerce uses networking websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as vehicles to promote and sell products and services. However, the sellers can’t just put their products online and expect their customers to fall in and buy. They need to have a campaign or advertisers, or any other measures to attract the customers to buy their products like tweets, likes, and shares.
Specifically, social commerce experts create and post messages and interactive features that promote online sales and other e-commerce initiatives. Some of the marketing tactics social commerce employs include:
- Inviting users to vote on product style or choices;
- Offering personalized buyer options;
- Applying large and striking graphics to attract viewer clicks;
- Using videos to show the product in use and from multiple angles;
- Encouraging user-submitted photos, commentary, and feedback;
- Using celebrity endorsements of the product line;
- Linking directly to the checkout or shopping cart;
- Offering promotions or giveaways to users who share the product on their feeds.
Furthermore, Social commerce also seeks to engage online shoppers by offering expert product advice and support.
Accordingly, with these methods, social commerce sites can attract a wide variety of customers, also known as Internet users in most cases, to their sites and buy products, gaining a lot of followers and repeat the process again to gather more income.
What should brand owners do?
China has long been one of the world’s largest economies and one of the strongest economies in terms of manufacturing and supplying to overseas markets.
In SouthEast Asia, China is also the leading country with its platforms (B2C or B2B) which is one of the most important elements in this region’s distribution chain.
However, although China is dominating the e-commerce market, social commerce is another entirely different subject.
Like businesses in other countries, businesses in China are still new to this term and its effect on their companies. So, what should businesses prepare before the new surge of ‘social commerce’ in China?
Having your business’s official account verified
As one can notice, sometimes, the celebrity or some official account of the government or some other renowned organizations on Facebook, Twitter, etc. will have a blue verification mark next to their name. This is to distinguish themselves from the fake, unreliable account that tries to trick other users to think that they are legit.
Accordingly, because of this system, one might think that if a site doesn’t have a verification mark, that site is untrustworthy or unreliable (although this is not true).
However, the perception of the customers is what really matters when talking about marketing. Accordingly, owning an official verified account on social media platforms will increase the business’s reliability instantly to an immense high.
Furthermore, the verification can also lead to many potential opportunities both domestically and internationally from other verified, renowned organizations.
Tighten control and management of social media platforms
Social media platforms are varied with millions, even billions post each day on each platform. Consequently, the manual oversight of every platform for infringement activities is unreasonable.
So, if manually controlling and managing is not an option, can the Internet with its bot and unlimited algorithm help with this issue?
Unfortunately, not yet!
This is because the contents uploaded to each platform are so great in numbers that even the bot and the algorithm can not check all of them. Also, the infringers won’t just upload the entire infringing product to the Internet as a whole for the bot to scan. Instead, they divide it, cut it into many sections and upload them individually.
Accordingly, the total control over the infringing activities on social media platforms is unrealistic.
However, that doesn’t mean that the rights holders should just sit back and act when it’s true late and the damage is irreversible. Alternatively, they can focus on some specific areas on the platforms that the infringing activities may occur the most.
One of the simplest methods to achieve this goal is to periodically searching sets of popular keywords and capturing the data manually, i.e., the business can take notes of information relating to their company such as reviews, sales volumes, discounts rate, and related networks.
With these areas narrowed down, the business can tighten its circle and find and capture the infringing activities in the shortest time possible.
In addition, businesses can use scrapping tools that crawl the web automatically for data. However, it is important to note that data scraping can be a grey area, depending on its usage and this method has also been limited by technology giants in recent times to better protect the user’s information.
On the other hand, it is also relatively complex to monitor media streaming platforms such as live auctions on Facebook or a video stream on Tik Tok because the bot can not identify violations by videos and actions of the streamers yet.
Normally, if the streamer of this video is conducting a violation of the law, the rights holders can only be notified through other users that watch that video.
Establish an online enforcement procedure with the platforms
Normally, even if the rights holders are aware of the infringement, they will have to wait for a long time for the platforms to verify the action is indeed infringing on their rights and take necessary actions.
However, this long process can be shortened to a considerably short amount of time if the rights holders have established some online enforcement procedure with the platforms.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have publicly accessible channels where rights holders can report infringing content. WeChat, Line, and Zalo allow users to report infringements through the app. WeChat also has a dedicated Brand Protection Platform where brand owners can register and file complaints. Users who report can also leave clues for the enforcer to start.
Accordingly, businesses should have ease protecting their rights with these platforms. However, if a platform doesn’t have such online enforcement procedures, businesses should contact them and try to come to an agreement to reduce the amount of time to process the infringing activities on these platforms.
You can see a list of China IP firms here.