July 9, 2011 by George Eberstadt
I just got an invitation to Google+. After a brief time with it, I’m making a prediction: the Circles thing isn’t going to work. With Circles, Google+ is making the play to become one network spanning many types of relationship and purpose by letting you restrict your sharing and filter your view of the global feed by sub-group. Work. Friends. People I follow. There are two reasons I doubt this will work.
Reason #1: I blogged a while ago about something we learned (the hard way) at TurnTo about granular privacy control. It doesn’t work. There are people who will use your system, and there are people who won’t use your system, but there are very few people who would-use-your-system-if-only-they-had-more-granular-privacy-control. Early on, we built a very similar privacy model to Google+: it provided groups to enable users to restrict what got shared with whom. Like Google+, we offered a set of starter groups and allowed user-customization. Later, we ripped the whole thing out. We came to understand that (most) people want to manage privacy at the level of the network, not sub-groups within the network. People do their work-related networking on LinkedIn and their personal sharing on Facebook. Twitter is great for following people you don’t know personally (and therefor also useful for businesses to promote themselves). People decide who to connect to on each network based on what they plan to share (or read) there, and then they share fully with all their connections. That’s as granular as it gets. An item that isn’t suitable for someone’s whole audience on a particular network doesn’t get restricted to a sub-group, it just doesn’t get shared at all (or it gets shared with everyone with whatever consequences…).
Reason #2: Different system services are optimal for different types of network; there’s no one-size-fits-all collection. As a professional network, LinkedIn provides a great structure for exhibiting your work history. As a personal network, Facebook has great photo sharing. As a network of mostly-nonpersonal-following, Twitter provides great link sharing. The network services and the community co-evolve and specialize over time. If Google+ members really do try to maintain many different types of relationships within the system, they’ll end up unhappy with the tools the system provides. Either the tools will be too sparse, or the tools to support one type of network will be clutter to the others. (Would an elaborate resume system be appropriate for your Facebook profile?) In order for a social network to provide relevant services, there needs to be some level of focus to the type of relationships the network supports. And once the network has that focus, groups become irrelevant.
If I’m right, someone buy me a beer. If Circles works out, the drinks on are me.
May 27, 2010 by George Eberstadt
After over a year in the market helping a few dozen innovative online retailers add social shopping features to their stores, we thought it was time to synthesize and share the big lessons we’ve learned. So here [drumroll] is our new whitepaper: Onsite Social for Online Commerce. In it, we get specific about things like:
- How to leverage social networks for Social Merchandising within your store
- How to most effectively encourage shoppers to share news of their purchases with their social network friends
- Why adding Social to ecommerce sites requires different strategies than for content sites
- What sort of results are realistic to expect
We’re just putting it out there – no registration required to get it. If you find it thought-provoking, we hope you’ll get in touch with us and pass it on to others. Enjoy!
November 15, 2009 by George Eberstadt
Most of the focus on social shopping has been on how stores can build a presence on Facebook and Twitter. But new research from BIGResearch for Shop.Org suggests this is backwards. Online stores will likely benefit far more from bringing the social networks of their shoppers into the buying experience within the store. Here’s why:
[Social networks] are rarely the starting point for shopping per se. When we asked consumers, “Where do you typically start your online shopping? (Check all that apply)”, consumers told us that they are most likely to start their online shopping at merchant Web sites (almost three-quarters), search engines / directories (one third), and catalogs or offline stores (about a quarter) — with social media sites trailing far behind.
So if you want to truly tap into the power of your customer base and the social network of your shoppers to influence purchases, do it ON YOUR SITE. That’s where real buyers come to do their research. And that means leveraging tools like Facebook Connect to make all that social data available to shoppers when they’re really in-market. (TurnTo can make this easy.)
Here’s data from the report, available here. (You must be a Shop.Org member for access.)
June 19, 2009 by George Eberstadt
I had fun during the Internet Retailer Conference this week chatting with Ina Steiner, Editor of the AuctionBytes blog. We covered a lot of topics in a short time. She has posted the conversation as a podcast. Enjoy.
February 3, 2009 by George Eberstadt
Here’s the TurnTo presentation from the OnMedia conference today. This talk focuses on the whole idea of “Trusted References”. The TurnTo part goes from roughly minute 1 to minute 10. (I’m hoping the conference will provide a version of this without the side-bar. I’ll upgrade if we get one…)
January 23, 2009 by George Eberstadt
I just got back from the Social Networking Conference in Miami. Here’s the presentation I gave, titled “Ecommerce Meets Social Networks: A Different Approach to Driving Online Referrals”. The usual caveats about slides-without-accompanying-commentary apply.
December 15, 2008 by George Eberstadt
Peter Kim asked a handful of thought leaders in the social media space to give their predictions for the top trends of ’09. Here are a couple related to social commerce:
After a devastating holiday season, retailers will eagerly seek a way to improve results other than driving demand with deeper discounts. One option they will investigate will be how to insert people and social connections into the buying process, illuminating and influencing for the first time the Black Hole Of Consideration. As they lick their wounds in the first half of 2009, retailers will watch from the sidelines as media companies implement open social technologies like Facebook Connect and the Open Social Platform. But as the holiday season launches early after Labor Day, shoppers will find options to see what friends are recommending, buying and rating integrated into the shopping experience.
Jeremiah Owyang: eCommerce Goes Social
The recession will force revenue results out of social technologies –marketing must prove its worth to actually changing the bottom line. Although customer reviews are nothing new on popular eCommerce sites like eBay and Amazon, in most cases, consumers use the critiques from people they don’t know. Now with connective technologies like Facebook Connect, Google FriendConnect, and OpenID, consumers will now be able to see reviews, experiences, and critiques from people they actually know and trust. As a result, expect to see eCommerce widgets and applications appear in popular social networks, as well as when visiting existing eCommerce sites the ability to login with your Facebook or Google identity. As an example, next time I’m shopping for a laptop, not only will I see reviews from editors and consumers, I will now know which one of my friends uses an Apple computer, and what they think of it.
October 16, 2008 by George Eberstadt
The communications agency Universal McCann recently published a report called “When Did We Start Trusting Strangers?” looking at how much more influential the advice of strangers has become in purchase decisions since the rise of social media. Brands better not ignore this call to action — like it or not, the phenomenon is real and powerful. And in many ways it’s a good thing, putting more pressure on brands to produce superior products instead of just superior marketing.
But it’s not entirely a good thing. To the degree that these anonymous interactions replace authentic, personal ones, they represent lost opportunities. We end up with better stuff and fewer friends. When we get advice from strangers on a blog instead of calling our friends, is it because we trust strangers more? Because we enjoy the experience more? Or just because it’s so easy? Hey, there are a lot of strangers in the world – some have already written down their opinions on whatever product you want to know about.
But if it were just as quick and easy to find advice from friends as from strangers, which would you ask? If you said “friends”, why? Because you trust friends to give it to you straight? Because you know them well enough to calibrate their advice? (e.g. I know Gwen is picky, so if she says it’s good, it’s good.) Because it gives you a reason to check in with someone you care about? Even in the McCann study, in response to the question, “How I share opinions of products, brands and services”, the personal forms of communication (e-mail and IM) rank 50% higher (!) than the impersonal ones (blogs, reviews, comments). (Page 29.)
In the next phase of the web, we’re going to see our real world relationships woven into our on-line experience everywhere we go. (Charlene Li says social networks will be like air – they’ll just surround you.) And when that happens, we’ll see the pendulum swing back from stranger-advice towards friend-advice. And that will be a good thing, too.