Technology and Social Commerce

One of the common themes I saw through the readings this week was technology. When I first started reading Spilka, it challenged the way I thought about what technology was. I alway thought technology was just the devices and the physical things I could hold in my hand or touch. In reality, Technology is more than that. It is the methods and tools that a society has developed in order to facilitate th solution of its practical problems.

Technology Definition

The Digital Literacy book also defined Technology, but this definition was a bit clearer for me.

With this definition in my brain, it really helped my connect the readings from Spilka and Qualman. For the past few weeks I was having a hard time figuring out how these two books, written so different could be required for the same class and have readings assigned at the same time. I’m now starting to get it.

Spilka really laid the groundwork for the Qualman reading, specifically on Socialommerce. Dave Clark (who wrote the article in Spilka’s book), starts out by talking about Twitter and how it could be used. Qualman takes the concept of Twitter and other social media sites and expands on how people can use this technology for their purchases.

Socialommerce (as Qualman calls it) or Social Commerce is not new. Amazon and eBay are two examples of Social Commerce sites that have been around for a while. Both Amazon and eBay use your current browsing and search history to show you items that you might be interested in. That is the basic concept of Social Commerce. Social Commerce is really just allowing your friends/family/social media circles to help in purchasing items. Social Networks make it easier for people to provide information about what they purchased and why. This could be part of the reason Twitter could be so popular. 140 characters is easy to write about a purchase. That makes it really easy. In addition most online retailers allow you to share about what you bought and the savings you had. - I shop online to make it easier to brag about the savings on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook allows for applications to be created by third-party companies and integrated within Facebook. Companies will often time see a new idea from an exsting company or app and either try to purchase that app or create a new one that is better. TripAdvisor did that with their “Cities I’ve Visited.” They borrowed the idea from Where I’ve been, but allows for pinpointing cities that were visited instead of just countries. With the addition of “I’d like to visit” within the Cities Application, other companies can see where I want to go and advertise to me. Also, friends can see that and indicate if they’ve been there and if they would recommend going. This is also Social Commerce.


I used TripAdvisor (website, not application) for help in planning my trip to New Orleans/Alabama this week. It is good to see the reviews and itineraries of people who have been there about the things to do and things to avoid. I’m traveling with my mom who is still new to Facebook and social media, so she’s nervous about posting that we are taking this trip, so Social Media hasn’t helped.

Steve Kaufer, CEO of TripAdvisor has said “If you are not constantly evolving along with your customers you are doomed to fail.” Do you know any companies that need to follow that advice?

Posted on October 20, 2013, in Literacy, Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I also felt like I had a bit of an “aha” moment with our readings this week! The chapter from Clark that discussed the rhetoric of technology really made sense to me when you consider it in the context of Qualman’s socialommerce discussions. Like you mentioned, sites like ebay and Amazon have been using web technology to track and thus influence our purchasing decisions. Wwhen you layer that with reviews from friends (or strangers) on the web or social media sites, technology is a pretty powerful commercial tool.

    • One thing I forgot to mention in the blog was how we use these reviews from strangers. We read the 5 star reviews and the 1 star reviews to get a better indication of what is really happening. I will also read the 3 stars, because those will have both good and bad and I can relate their bad to my own wants from the product. One person’s bad is another person’s awesome.

  2. evelynmartens13

    I can identify with your mom being nervous about advertising for all the world to see about your trip (REALLY, I can). But, at the same time, I realize that there’s a lot of value to what Qualman says about consumers “owning the brand” and letting friends help out in making decisions. For example, I am from Louisiana and would be happy to offer advice, lol! (just kidding).

    I can see what you mean about trying to connect the two readings, but I’ve always felt soothed by the fact that we have one reading that is pretty academically “dense” to balance the other one, which is pretty “happy,” but thin in many ways.

    I love your “Retailmenot” graphic!

  3. I also get why your mom might be nervous to post; we have been told on more than one occasion at work during security and safety training to be careful what we post on the web for others to see. It makes sense.

    I thought your graphics really drove home some points: the bragging nature of social media and its ties to social commerce and businesses and how we really listen to our “bros” (friends and family members) when we seek out products or businesses, such as for traveling.

    I do have to wonder how much we rely on the reviews from strangers when we use the web to look up feedback for a product or company. Is there a certain number of reviews that will force us to say “Nope, not gonna go with that one.” Or do we chance it anyway? I do know that if I have a conversation with someone near and dear to me, and that person says, “Don’t do it!”, I usually won’t.

    Finally, Evelyn, I agree with you about our readings; I feel the same way….one heavier reading, and the other a bit lighter; I work to connect them and any themes that carry over from one to the other.

  4. Your quote from Steve Kaufer, CEO of TripAdvisor, brings up an interesting question. He says, “If you are not constantly evolving along with your customers you are doomed to fail.” But, what if some of that company’s customer base is like your mom- less eager to try out shiny new technology and more inclined to rely on time tested methods of getting things done?

    This question makes me think about the technology adoption life cycle; while some people always adopt technologies early on, others wait significantly longer. I think businesses will need to learn how to effectively accommodate their entire customer base including people who fall all along this spectrum.

    • I think his comment was more about knowing your customer base and making sure you are keeping up with it. If the customer base is more like my mom and not using these, it would not make sense to force it on people. My mom didn’t even have a Facebook page until about a year ago. If you don’t know who your customers are, you don’t know where to go from here.

  5. I really liked your point about how the readings connect. It is interesting how they interact. Beyond that, I thought you brought up a good point about how social commerce functions now.I found Qualman’s whole social media review process rather terrifying, but as you pointed out, social commerce is alive and well. Far from being terrified of it, I even appreciate it. Having reviews and suggestions is helpful.

    I really liked the quote you included as well. I like that it says that you need to evolve with your clients. There have been many people in this class who have talked about how their clients aren’t technologically savvy, and I think the answer id to evolve with them. There is no use in running really far ahead of them technologically, and you certainly don’t want to fall behind. I think that we need to know our audience and be like Goldilocks and find what is just right for our customers.

  6. Your quote by Steve Kaufer is dead on. Companies need to be flexible and responsive and adapt to quickly changing trends and technology or they will fail. Today’s social media networks can be very unforgiving and word travels very fast.
    I also really felt the synergy between the readings this week. Now I’m wondering if this was the first week that it happened, or if it was always there and I have just been missing it.

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