A funny thing is happening to all of those builders of cool social networks. It’s the same thing that happened in the pre-dot com bust days. After their cool sites were built and they were all sittin’ around drinkin’ a microbrew, they all got the “South Park” look in their eyes and in unison said, “How do we make money”?
Again, in unison they said 2 things. “Well first we’ll make money off of advertisers and then, when we get so much traffic we can barely function, someone will buy us’. I got news for you, a 1000 visitors a day, let alone a week, ain’t gonna gitter done.
So lets flash back to the South Park image again as they all look around after seeing that their traffic aint hittin the millions. “Now what”?
Well here’s an idea. Since consumer visits to social sites are growing at an exponential rate, and since they’re becoming more comfortable with the model and more comfortable with the tools, controls and widgets of these sites, wouldn’t it make sense as a marketer to take advantage of this niche community? The answer is yes. But what about the owner/operator of the site what do they do?
So’s here how it goes down. Lets say I have this social network for the lovers of all things llama. Why can’t I blend the transactional and social aspects of this group by involving consumers in promoting and selling their offerings as they pertain to…”All things Llama”?
As these social sites become more and more “social”, and people find themselves spending more time on these sites, they become impervious to traditional media; That media being Tv, Radio, Newspapers and magazines. And what happens is that now all of a sudden your social network of peers and “friends” can now influence a buying decision. Because you trust them and they, you. Statistics show people join a social networking site to receive four benefits, 1) to meet people (78%); 2) to find entertainment (47%); 3) to learn something new (38%); and 4) influence others (23%) I tend to disagree with the 4th, but that just maybe a residual effect of a marketers desire to influence the social perception of their product.
Whats interesting to note though is that members of social networks have a higher disposable income than the general population – 20% more – and spend more of it online. So if they do and going back to our llama group analogy, we now present Joe, who is selling the most healthy llama snack ever made. You trust him because Joe is a llama lover like you. Wouldn’t you buy your llama snacks from Joe? Of course you would!
You now have seen the benefit of selling to your peeps. S-Commerce.
But the question will and does arise, how does a marketer get to Joe? How is Joe influenced to buy the best llama snacks? For starters maybe Joe went to a branded micro-site devoted to llamas and their snacks, saw that they were offereing a free trial, and jumps on it. Or maybe Joe read a review online somewhere about the latest in llama feed and someone mentioned Killer llama Snacks. Joe could have been in a llama forum where he saw a skyscraper? Perhaps he could have been on a competeing site and saw an add for the latest llama snack? See how many ways you can get to him?
Of course Joe might be a heavy blog reader and reads a couple of killer llama blogs everyday where he reads some posts by the author or readers about an amazing new llama snack. Better yet, Joe loves Youtube, so combining his love for llamas and video, Joe does a search and finds a cool 30 second spot on the llamas at the san diego zoo that are big and strong thanks to the killer llama snack.
So by combining all elements of branding, and marketing, and advertising along with the power of a social network. And the trust that only a niche group could have for someone within the group, S-Commerce can thrive. The best part about it is that if your product makes it into the group. No selling is required.
Furthermore, you’re probabally asking, how does the owner/operator make money? Well since he owns the niche site, wouldn’t it behoove the maker of the killer llama snack to come to the owners and see if they can cut some type of marketing deal to push their product? You betcha. So now the only advertisers on the social site are relavant to the niche aspect of the site. Everyone wins…
Lastly, taking this to the next level then would be a company like lemonade.com Where they literally provide you with the stand and all you have to do is supply the products. Just make sure they(the products) are relevant to your group and you are good to go! It would also help if you were actually part of the group. Trying to win over the group as a passing member of this group is a hard sell and could result in an instant loss of street cred. So tread lightly, stay long, grow some roots and sell some product. Can you name another seamless example of e-commerce in play in a social networking setting?