Shiny things I find from across the web

It’s only social commerce when the retailer replies

For a while in the early 2000s, we thought that we could take the element of human interaction out of the purchase process. E-commerce platforms were built as great online emporiums where customers could effectively serve themselves without ever having to speak to a company employee. It seemed like a great model: after all, the best kind of business is one where you wake up in the morning and ask your accountant how much money you made while you were sleeping.

Of course, there have always been a few exceptions to the lonely web emporium rule – sites like eBay and Amazon have always been slightly social, and buyer-seller interactions are encouraged through mechanisms like leaving feedback, reviews and forms where users can “ask the seller”. On these sites, the social element of shopping was built in before we ever coined the term “social media.”

Social Shopping recommendations

In recent years, and in tandem with the evolution of social media, we have seen a complete overhaul of the lonesome online shopper model; from sites like Threadless which invites users to create their own products for other users to buy, to Shopstyle and ASOS, which invite you to curate and share your favourite collections, and a new emerging breed of born-social sites which includes the likes of Kaboodle which goes one further and learns from your reviews and interactions, linking you up with likeminded shoppers in a trend which has become known as “discovery shopping.” The potential for retailers to cross and up-sell to users by adding bringing peers into the equation is clearly enormous. Even sites which haven’t gone so far in creating a truly social shopping experience usually at least offer social sharing buttons, allowing shoppers to share their wishlists or purchases with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

But we have eschewed the issue somewhat – most of these sites increase interaction between shoppers, or between shoppers and their social network, but very few of them actually allow users to have a dialogue with the retailer itself, which is why F-commerce is uniquely fascinating. Facebook commerce is effectively putting online shopping inside your online community, wrapping up the ability to purchase products with the option to interact with other customers or indeed a company representative, in real time.

Your friends might be able to tell you whether those mink coloured harem pants will suit you, but only the retailer itself can tell you if they will be delivered in time for your Christmas party, or give you the bust measurement of that little sexy black dress you’re dying to squeeze into. Providing shoppers with this information in real time, while their shopping cart is still full, and the smooth plastic of their credit card warm in their pocket, is where retailers can really use social to make a difference to their bottom line. But of course, how companies will manage to adapt to putting their staff back into the consumer dialogue at their online checkouts is another question entirely.

Do you think that retailers should be involved in the social shopping dialogue, or should their focus be on providing great products and facilitating conversation between consumers? Let me know in the comments!


Capello’s Wedding Dilemma

I was amused to read that Fabio Capello went to the England – Spain friendly match yesterday instead of attending his son’s wedding. The match was delayed, and should have been played the night before, but I can’t help but feel a little sorry for his wife Laura and of course, his son Pierfilippo. Here’s a little ditty I penned…

Fabio Capello
To his son’s wedding he did not go
Instead he chose to watch his rivals, Spain
Take on England in a friendly game

The first half was a barren wasteland
Spain attacking, Capello wishing he’d brought Ferdinand
Milner’s set piece was a quick release
Lampard nodded it home
While Laura Ghisi stood in the church alone

The wedding in Milan was the measure of the man
England won 1-0
But Fabio scored an own goal

Poor Pierfilippo, poor Pierfilippo, poor Pierfilippo Capello

LinkedIn, your career advice is creepy, let me opt out

Facebook has been running “sponsored stories” ads for quite some time, and with good results – most of my clients achieve a significantly higher CTR running this type of ad over standard Facebook ads, outweighing the downside of the slightly higher CPC.

LinkedIn, too, leverages the activity of your network to drive actions on the site, from analysing your contacts and their connections in order to identify “People you may know”, to highlighting what your connections are up to via status updates and an activity feed. I’ve always found these features unobtrustive, and sometimes pretty useful. But today LinkedIn went too far, and in my mind, crossed the line between “clever” and “creepy”.

LinkedIn, when did I ask you for career advice?

I logged in to LinkedIn and immediately did a double take, when I saw my profile picture, not only in the top left-hand corner of my screen where it usually sits, but in the right-hand column. Moreover, my picture sat next to a job title that isn’t mine. Above the logo of a company I don’t work for. So far, so freaky. Then I read the caption, and I got it. “Picture yourself with this new job” – I guess this is the new breed of recruitment adverts, the new levels of subversion that LinkedIn adverts have to go to in order to elicit sufficient levels of awareness and raise CTRs. That doesn’t stop it being creepy.

It got me thinking, at what point does using data and leveraging generous user permissions stop being clever and start being invasive? I think as marketers, the onus is on us to take a step back from time to time and think not only about what’s possible given all the new tools we have at our fingertips to harness user data, but about what’s ethical and acceptable.

Oh, and if my boss is reading this – no, I didn’t apply for the job.

The most upsetting thing I’ve ever seen on Facebook

2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2-2+2 x 0

This maths question from the “Questions” widget on Facebook has been answered by over 2.7 million users. 1 million said “26” and 1.5 million said “0”. Seems like a whole generation has yet to master BODMAS. Time to reconsider the value of your Facebook fans?

Kenneth Cole – The only thing that’s black and white is the social media fail

Kenneth Cole social media fail

They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and it seems that Kenneth Cole has managed to prove that this old adage may be true. The brand is perhaps best known in social media spheres for that tweet which piggybacked on the media attention around the political unrest in Egypt to sell his new collection.

Not content with upsetting social media users once, this time the company has launched a campaign microsite called Where Do You Stand, which is a clumsy, if not downright offensive attempt at boiling down complex and emotive issues such as beliefs on abortion, gay rights, war, and gun possession to simple “yes” or “no” questions.

The campaign is a cheap and ugly attempt to capitalise on the strong feelings people have on these subjects in order to shift Kenneth Cole’s expensive threads, and has begun to draw the ire of some users who are calling the brand out on this.

It’s another cheap trick from KC, but we can hardly say we expected better…

Klout and PeerIndex don’t value mothers

Mumsnet is hallowed ground for marketers. A bastion of online influence, and the stomping ground of millions of mums; the keepers of the purse strings and setters of trends. This week, Mumsnet announced the launch of a blogger network, meaning that influential mummies everywhere can begin sharing advertising revenue generated from their content. Mums also represent a substantial proportion of the userbase of the MoneySavingExpert forums. Whenever we work with a client to run a competition or special offer, we find that savvy forum users seek it out, and news of the competition appears on the MSE forums within hours, often driving significant traffic and competition entries.

Klout and PeerIndex both claim to be the standard for measuring social media reputation. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or who has listened to one of my coffee shop diatribes will know that I have many bones to pick with these indexes, and the secrecy their algorithms are shrouded in. Measuring influence is a tricky business, and any system is likely to have its detractors, so I can accept that any system is likely to be a continual work in progress. But one massive problem with Klout and PeerIndex is that they are so platform-specific. In order to find out your score, you have to connect through Facebook, log in with Twitter, sign up through LinkedIn, hand over your Quora details, or add your blog RSS feed. This assumes that social media influence is dependent on using one of these predefined platforms. Empire Avenue goes one step further by recognising Flickr and YouTube, but Mumsnet, and all other message boards and forums are not counted when calculating scores on any of these indexes. This means that according to Klout, PeerIndex et al, the influence of mums who are active on message boards and forums but not on other social media platforms, is effectively zero.

Would you trust an influence index that didn’t value your mother?

The Long Tail Game for Twitter

Content on Twitter is fast-moving and most tweets have an incredibly short shelf life. It means that you can easily miss the diamonds in the rough, and that the majority of content (i.e almost anything posted by users who do not have thousands of followers to retweet their messages), is quickly swept away.

Through Twitter’s own search function, it is only possible to access tweets from the last week or two, or for an even shorter period of time depending on the volume of Tweets returned for your search term.

Here’s a game I made up on the commute home, to stretch the short tail of Twitter and give old tweets a chance:

Visit the profile of someone you follow on Twitter. They must have less than 1k followers.

Click through to their “favourite tweets”*, and scroll through until you find one you find interesting (the older the tweet, the better, but it must be at least 1 week old).

Add the words “Long Tail” to the message, and retweet.

You have successfully given new life to an old tweet 🙂

*If the user has no favourited tweets, you can unfollow them 😛

What can marketers learn from a badly stuffed animal?

When you work in social media, you can sometimes get carried away with strategy, research and planning. You think about the rules and the etiquette of each platform, how to drive incremental ROI, push traffic towards ecommerce sites, how to engage users through branded content and spend time training staff on the correct implementation of a social strategy. Campaign deliverables are agreed and verified, messaging is sense checked, a go-live date is established… but at the end of the day, social media is random.

The “rules” which apply elsewhere somehow go out of the window if you manage to stumble upon one great, shareable, hilarious theme which shapes your content. The go-to reference here is Lolcats. Or @Shitmydadsays. When I stumble upon golddust like this glorious Facebook page dedicated to Badly Stuffed Animals it reaffirms the fact that social media is really about people coming together to share experiences with each other, and brands which help to facilitate that are the ones who will really win in social media.

On the same note, I am a massive fan of the bizarre and wonderful efforts of Skittles, particularly on Facebook.

Twitter Litter

I’m a social magpie. That means if there is something shiny happening in social media, I want to try it out. Whether that means visiting The Times website to find out if I’m a Word Nerd, checking out lists of influencers on PeerIndex, or using my Facebook account to sign up for Empire Avenue and sell myself on the virtual stock exchange: basically, if it’s new, I want to try it.

But trying out so many apps, games and betas for obscure startups means granting permissions to these third parties. These permissions can range from reading elements of data in my account (such as tweets), to the ability to post tweets from my account without ever asking me permission after I have initially granted it. So if there’s one thing you do on Twitter today, log into your account, click on “settings”

Then from the “settings” menu, click “applications” to view the full list of third party apps you have granted permissions to.

If you don’t recognise it, no longer use it, or are just horrified that an app tweeted through your account without explicitly seeking your permission (here’s looking at you, TheWorld’sMostExclusiveWebsite!!), simply click “revoke access” and you’re back in control – phew!

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