Christian Taylor, CEO and founder of Facebook storefront provider Payvment, recently shared his thoughts for the growth of social commerce in 2012. Mr Taylor pointed out three ways that ‘taste graphs’ will fuel social commerce. A taste graph, similar to Facebook’s ‘open graph’ is the specific and personal tastes of a user who is connected to you in a social capacity, whether as a ‘friend’, ‘fan’ or just someone who has subscribed to your Facebook updates or vice versa.
I would like to take this opportunity to expand on these ideas and add my own view to how this may or may not assist with the growth of social commerce.
Social shopping is a formula based on social science. The study of human behavior and interaction with the direct influence of trend setting, social influencers. If you’re really looking to see correlation between influencers and purchasing, take someone who averages 20 individual comments per status update. This person is an influencer within their network of friends. Now, find five people within this users’ network who share a passion or interest with this user. Imagine that the shared interest is the clothing line of Ralph Lauren. Offer the influencer a huge discount on Ralph Lauren merchandise in return for direct access to broadcast to his five friends about his recent Ralph Lauren purchase. Would any of these five friends make a purchase within Facebook based on these simulated conditions? Maybe, maybe not, but the thought of purchasing has, without a doubt, been firmly planted within their sub-conscious psyche.
Targeting Deals and Offers based on Interests
Mr Taylor wrote that ‘by mixing my social data with its own data about my general interests, a company’s taste graph can produce deals hyper-targeted to my interests’. This statement is true but not yet totally possible within the current Facebook environment. After all, what is considered a user’s interests within Facebook? Something that the user has ‘liked’ or has added to their list of ‘interests’ within their profile? Regarding the profile interests, these could be completely incorrect. A person completes these details once when first opening a Facebook account and rarely updates this information. As for ‘like’ to represent interests, this is nearer to capturing real information but would also need to be adjusted based on the reason for the ‘like’. The full study should include the ‘why’ when the user originally ‘liked’ what is seen to be an interest. This gives a deeper insight into the user’s intention. For example, the user may have shown an interest based on discount, influence, content or any other reason. The importance lies in the ‘why’ as opposed to ‘what’. This is the formula that needs to be followed in order to really capture the attention of new fans.
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Shared Passions and Recommendations
Without a doubt a shared passion such as music is a big influencer. If I share the same taste in music with a friend who I can see just bought a new CD of our favorite artist, I would be tempted to take a look and even to buy the same disc. But can this be applied to every vertical? Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a fashion identification application which could distinguish your clothes from your photos and match similar fashions to your friends? The app would recognize the clothes worn by you in your photographs by style, color, date and season and match them to similar clothes worn by tagged friends. The app would then know to inform users within the same ‘fashion circle’ whenever a purchase is made by someone within the group.
‘Fashion Circle Plus’ – what a great name for a new Facebook application. It could also offer the ability to ‘tag’ your clothes within photographs that you upload to Facebook. Brands can upload latest fashions and styles into the application and users just choose from the pre-defined tags created by the brands or just add the style tags themselves.
Social Commerce Tastemakers
By nature, people follow in the footsteps of well-known personalities and celebrities. Back in October we wrote that celebrity endorsement is the future of social shopping within Facebook, but now that people can subscribe to personal newsfeeds within Facebook, it brings the whole idea one step closer to reality. From experience I have seen cases where celebrities feel that they ‘cheapen’ their name when endorsing products for sale on Facebook. This is yet another mindset challenge for 2012.
The people who should be leading the way with this project are celebrity agents. After all, product endorsements with revenue from sales are solid revenue models for celebrities.
In short, I personally believe that 2012 will be the year that Mark Zuckerberg’s statement “If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up,” will come to fruition, but it won’t happen without a little more help from Mark and his team at Facebook.