By CLAUDIAN NAVIN STANISLAUS – PRESIDENT, MALAYSIAN ADVERTISERS ASSOCIATION
Imagine the dynamic social digital world, as a bustling marketing kitchen. Long simmering on the stove with promise, social commerce; the tantalising fusion of the art of social interaction and the science of commerce, is ready to be served with the main course.
First coined by Steve Rubel in 2005 (2006 Trends to Watch Part II: Social Commerce, https://socialcommercetoday.com/steve-rubels-original-2005-social-commerce-post/ ), social commerce progression is marked by innovative integrations of e-commerce with the interactive aspects of digital platforms, influenced by technological advancements and changing consumer habits. Today, it exemplifies the merging of community, immediacy, and commerce in the digital economy, and demands precision, creativity, and adaptability, echoing the skills of a culinary master.
This digital sphere has to strive to narrow the funnel and close the loop, between brands and the consumer
Just as chefs in a kitchen, content creators, marketers and brands in this digital sphere, have to skilfully blend techniques and ingredients to concoct delectable experiences for their diverse audience of consumers, always striving to narrow the funnel and close the loop, between brands and the consumer.
Consider Ah Meng, a Malaysian social media influencer, reminiscent of Chef Mandy at a fine dining restaurant, must expertly mix evolving local and global tastes and techniques, crafting recipes that appeal to a wide and varied audience while staying true to their unique style.
TikTok’s significant penetration in Malaysia, capturing 77.7% of the adult population, captures the essence of such platforms as ideal spaces for social commerce
Understanding social media algorithms is crucial, much like mastering various cooking techniques. Influencers like Ah Meng adapt to each platform’s unique palate, from TikTok’s significant penetration in Malaysia, capturing 77.7% of the adult population, (Commission Factory, Malaysia Social Media Statistics and Facts 2023, https://blog.commissionfactory.com/affiliate-marketing/malaysia-social-media-statistics) to the extensive global reach of Facebook and Instagram, necessitates distinct strategies to engage users effectively. It captures the essence of these platforms as ideal spaces for social commerce, where engaging content and savvy salesmanship can be strategically and tastefully blend. (DataReportal – Global Digital Insights. Digital 2023: Malaysia, https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2023-malaysia).
Just as Chef Mandy innovates with different ingredients, techniques, and themes in each menu cycle, Ah Meng adapts his ‘content recipes’ to suit each social media platform, ensuring their relevance, appeal and freshness are in tune to the ebb and flow of the ever-changing dynamics.
There needs to be balance of creativity and compliance
Compliance with the ever-changing regulations is as crucial for influencers as maintaining high kitchen safety and hygiene standards is for chefs. These are not only regulatory mandates but are also essential for safeguarding the well-being and trust of consumers. There needs to be balance in creativity amidst the shifting legal and ethical implications of an evolving landscape, producing content that is engaging, responsible, and respectful of consumers’ rights and privacy. (Content Forum releases inaugural guidelines on online curated content, https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/12/20/content-forum-releases-inaugural-guidelines-on-online-curated-content)
In the dynamic kitchens of social commerce, influencers are the sous-chefs, each brandishing unique talents and expertise crucial for elevating a brand’s perception and value proposition. Their impact in Malaysia has been so profound that they can significantly boost or undermine a brand’s appeal, either intentionally, or by mere association. (OOSGA. Social Media in Malaysia – 2023 Stats & Platform Trends, https://oosga.com/social-media/mys/ ) Consider a dessert brand partnering with a influencer who bakes; known for inventive creations, this collaboration mirrors a master chef employing a specialist to perfect a specific dish. It will enhance the brand’s market presence. On the flipside, if that influencer is found to have faked their abilities, this could tarnish the image of the brands associated with them just as well!
In a market brimming with mimicry, originality and authenticity, is what nudges social commerce
Entrepreneurs like Ah Meng must stand out amidst the crowded field of influencers, finding their distinctive voices which align their personas with the values of rhe brands that they work with, in order to forge genuine connections with audiences. With a market brimming with mimicry, this focus on originality and authenticity, is akin to Chef Mandy’s signature dishes and curated menus reflect her culinary identity. This is what actually nudges social commerce – possibly more than the products themselves.
Excellence in customer service in this digital marketplace is crucial, needing to be as attentive and responsive as the waitstaff’s interactions with their diners. It underscores the need for prompt, helpful, and consistent customer support; as once lost, trust and attention, are hard to regain. There’s also a need for continuous improvement based on feedback and engagement metrics. Just as a chef refines recipes based on customer reviews and feedback, while staying true to their culinary vision.
Understanding and adapting to the fluidity of modern consumer preferences is critical
Understanding and adapting to the fluidity of modern consumer preferences is critical for success in social commerce too. Integrating trending payment methods, and robust data security measures into social commerce not only enhances its appeal and offers convenience, but also mitigates fears often associated with digital transactions. It’s comparable to equipping a kitchen with the latest culinary and food safety equipment, enhancing transaction efficiency at each purchase moment, while ensuring customers’ security and protection.
With Malaysians spending lesser time online since the pandemic, (Social Media Statistics for Malaysia [Updated 2023], https://www.meltwater.com/en/blog/social-media-statistics-malaysia), influencers like Ah Meng have to prioritise curating high-quality, engaging content to combat digital fatigue. Each post should be as meticulous and deliberately crafted as Chef Mandy planning of a seasonal menu – choosing a few exquisite, thematic offerings rather than an overwhelming assortment of random content, ensuring each experience is enriching, memorable, and respectful of their audience’s time.
The landscape of social commerce is rapidly evolving, revealing exciting possibilities for influencers, marketers and brands alike. Emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and augmented reality are promising to play pivotal roles in redefining social commerce experiences. Voice-activated shopping, blockchain and cryptocurrency integration, virtual and augmented reality experiences, sustainable and ethical practices, AI-powered personalization, interactive and gamified experiences, leveraging big data for market prediction and expansion in emerging markets, are areas ripe for innovation. (Social Commerce Global Market Report 2023, https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2023/04/03/2640113/0/en/Social-Commerce-Global-Market-Report-2023.html ) These trends hint at a future where social commerce transcends traditional boundaries, much like how molecular gastronomy revolutionised the culinary arts.
Advocacy marketing offers a shift towards more genuine, meaningful interactions with consumers, as skepticism towards paid influencer endorsements grows
Advocacy marketing is gaining prominence as a key ingredient in the social commerce recipe too though. As consumers grow weary of overt traditional advertising and seek more authentic connections, brands are increasingly recognising its intrinsic value, steeped in the real customer experiences. Influencers like Ah Meng may provide greater reach and awareness, but today’s discerning consumers are aware of the transactional nature of their relationship with brands. The organically genuine nature of advocacy marketing on the other hand brings a level of credibility and trust that fosters loyalty.
Technological advancements promise to refine advocacy marketing, offering greater scalability and control over these customer-driven content, enhancing its effectiveness as a domain where customer voices hold increasing sway. These innovations could, for example, leverage AI to identify potential brand advocates or create augmented reality-driven experiences, shifting the focus towards more genuine, meaningful interactions with consumers, as skepticism towards paid influencer endorsements grows. It’s reminiscent of the authenticity found in Malaysia’s beloved traditional hawker fare. These dark horses of the culinary world have help steadfast championing on in spite of shifting trends.
Influencers need to find their place as ‘Impact Catalysts’ – the next evolution of influencers
Influencers like Ah Meng need to find their place in the social commerce space too, offering more personalised, experience-centric content, exploring ‘deinfluencing’ to build credibility as ‘Impact Catalysts’ – the next evolution of influencers.
This approach, much like Chef Mandy’s masterfully crafted exclusive private culinary experiences for select patrons, will help them cement their place in the ever-changing social commerce landscape.
Brands that are quick to adapt to these shifts and harness the potential of these platforms are poised to lead in this new, dynamic market.
Staying informed of the latest trends and adapting to evolving audience preferences is vital
As we refine our strategies in the bustling kitchen of social commerce, staying informed of the latest trends and adapting to evolving audience preferences is vital. The challenge lies in how you craft your ‘menu’ in the competitive marketplace of social commerce to captivate your audience and distinguish your brand.
This endeavor, akin to curating a unique culinary experience, demands innovation, insight, and a profound connection with your audience’s desires and expectations. In this ecosystem, everyone has a destiny to fulfill – you just need to find your place in it!
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