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Trends, commentary, and insightful rants from the bleeding edge of advertising, content & branding.

SHOPPING THE SOCIAL: BEYOND THE “LIKE” BUTTON

Is it just us, or does the “like” button (despite its recent release into the wild) seem so 2008.  Yeah, that was cute….two years ago.  Yes, “liking” something, even off site, will continue to be popular in a lazy man’s reflexive action kind of way.  The reality is that socially influenced shopping has been around for a long time. Today’s war, however, is shaping up to be about location (as in check-ins) and tomorrow’s war precedes from there to the fussily named – internet of things (whereby we check into our can of Pringles).

What’s interesting about the congregation of all of these closely (annoyingly) related services is how they might integrate to breathe life into the social shopping meme.  “Ha!,” you say, “That’s not interesting at all.” In our line of work and with our types of clients (i.e. retail, fashion, goods you can buy etc.) it could turn out be kind of interesting. With foursquare and Gowalla gaining momentum and facebook on the verge of launching their own location service it’s weird and kind of cool to see how folks have gone from “Twitter, that’s stupid” to “checking in” at every Taqueria and corn field airport.  There’s something about the ease and specificity of broadcasting your location that makes it more frictionless that having to create a 140 character haiku every time.  Its just here I am. And btw I’m at the restaurant you couldn’t get into. In fact, if you’re a mass-market retailer or in the event business you are very quickly going to be missing out on something potentially sticky if you’re not testing a location angle.  This is the first leg of where we think social shopping is actually going – especially if you’re a high volume retailer. It’s not about tweeting your $ spent.  It’s about adding interest value to retail or shopping stops you make all the time.  Right now the only people actually activating this bandwagon seem to be bars and the occasional restaurant.  That’s going to change.

The second sandbox is the Internet of things action.  Bear with us; we’re going to reduce a big, huge mountain of many different opportunities down to the one angle that fits our thesis.  The IOT comes in a few flavors – one is a product that acts (i.e. tweet their location) and interacts with other products; and another is a consumer responding directly to products (versus a fb post about the new Green Tea Smoothie you love, you actually check into that Smoothie as if you’re foursquaring a Starbucks).  I’m sure there are lots of other angles but we’re the kind of people that need to keep things simple.  As a social shopping thought experiment if you combine the social mechanic of checking into a location and then checking into a product you buy at that location – and there’s a reward for that – and then you turbo charge it with a frictionless/seamless payment option.  There’s a game play aspect that’s cool and a new kind of interest added to mundane activity that’s exciting and oh by the way you’re spending real money (meaning more than micro-payments for livestock in Farmville – not that there’s anything wrong with that).

And so that third piece becomes the seamless payment piece. Beyond simply broadcasting a purchase it’s the ability to effortlessly make the purchase as part of the social shopping mechanic.  And then, what the heck, that purchase is broadcast and then your friends can “like” it (it’s not going away) and the world spins madly on J.

Of course, facebook, would like all of that activity to stay in house and they might have a leg up based on low barrier to usage. I currently access: facebook, foursquare, Gowalla, GetGlue and…oh yea, Twitter. It’s not a huge pain but something has got to give to gain widespread and commonplace adoption for the kind of social shopping dynamic described above.  My wife, for instance, is not going through multiple services to do any of that (unless the reward are huge).  Despite their ubiquity its’ not a guarantee that facebook would win that bet,  foursquare with enough consumer acceptance could easily close that distance – they own geography.  Frankly, Apple could win that war (or some combination of these actors), it’s the phone that owns all that activity on the go anyway and with a seamless payment system in place, next stop world domination.

Stay tuned for a follow up post around “the return of the brand community.” Remember that meme? We’re talking shopping here though, and not just Gilt style bargain driven flash mobs. That’s the kind of soil seeding that would really make some of these local social trends catch fire.

Filed under: facebook, Retail, social media, Trend Spotting, , ,

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Super Genius LLC is a digital media and creative incubator that excels at bringing fresh, new thinking to existing strategy as well as blank-page strategic development. Our mission is to open up unique and exciting ways of connecting brands and consumers.

"The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." William Gibson

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