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Social Media Commerce Explained

There are many ways to stand out, but making money is perhaps the best. E-commerce has been around for as long as the Internet has, and now, it’s on social media for you to take advantage of. Several companies have been  building e-commerce Facebook apps for years, but it was the recent announcement by Paypal that heralded the true arrival of Social Media Commerce.

Paypal’s application is called “Send Money” and as it name pretty much explicitly states, it allows Facebook users to send money to each other. Accompanying the money transfer is an egreeting card, through which you may write a message or attach photos and videos to mark occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

How does it work? To send a card with money you go to the Choose a Card section and personalise it with a message, photo, or  video.  Choose who to send the card to from your list of Facebook contacts,  enter the amount of money you want to send, then login to PayPal to complete the payment. After your payment is complete, your card is sent. The card is posted on the receiver’s wall and an email message is sent. PayPal will also send a separate payment notification to the receiver.

To just send money without a card you just enter the amount of money you want to send,  and login to PayPal to complete the payment.  If you don’t have a PayPal account, it takes a few minutes to sign up for one.

Prior to Paypal, a number of developers made “Storefront” apps. Companies such as North Social and Big Commerce. These are basically specially-designed galleries that highlight several products that you want visitors to purchase. When you click “buy”, it then leads you to an outside page, which is actually found on the retailer’s website, and it is here where the transaction continues and is completed.

However, the true pioneer of Social Media Commerce is Alvenda whose work for 1-800-Flowers heralded the arrival of real shopping on Facebook.. Users were able to conduct transactions without ever leaving the Facebook environment.

Unfortunately, Alvenda’s e-commerce widget is built in Flash. This means that the many millions of users accessing the site via their iPhones, iTouches or iPads won’t be able to use the shopping feature, as Apple does not allow Flash to run on its mobile and tablet devices. As more of these Apple products are sold, and they are selling like hotcakes, this will increasingly be a drawback to using Alvenda.  Another drawback is that Alvenda deals mostly with large corporate clients, perhaps because of the high cost of its software.

Which takes us right back to Paypal, who are offering their ecommerce service at easy to use and easy to pay for rates, which makes it suitable for most small and medium enterprises.

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