Making Facebook pay
Some thoughts on social media monetisation for publishers
We have been saying for some time now that social commerce, the use of online social media in the buying and selling of products and services, is going to be the next big thing for publishers and that Facebook and other social network sites will become the megamalls of the future. But just how realistic is it to make money through social networks and how can publishers get involved in this phenomenon?
Facebook and monetisation
With Facebook’s international membership closing in on 700m, the race began some time ago to monetise it by tapping into the influence we yield over our friends. More than a million third party sites have integrated with Facebook, including corporate sites and individual product pages – their open platform lets members connect with friends and share opinions. Sharing interests and preferences has become a popular form of self-expression and identification. People share so they can gain validation through their peers – it’s rewarding when others in your social network reach out and appreciate the same things you do.
Each click of “like” s hares an affinity and that sharing isn’t just social anymore, it can generate real cash. Eventbrite.com, an online ticket seller, claims that one Facebook share drives 11 visits to the site and generates $2.52 in sales compared to $0.90 on LinkedIn and just $0.43 on Twitter.
We live in a world where all internet and connected mobile users will tap into their social networks daily and will introduce others to services and products they value. We believe that every e-commerce site will need to adapt accordingly to tap into this evolution. E-commerce has until now been remarkably linear and based on a one-to-one purchase model, but now social networking and online conversations are starting to drive e-commerce as people are sharing their likes, sharing their locations, using mobile vouchers, being rewarded with online vouchers that drive footfall in store.
According to social media e-commerce company 8th Bridge: “Today, fewer customers believe in what they are told and buy what they are sold. Increasingly, customers are learning about new products from friends more frequently than from brands.”
So, online retail is being shaped by companies who enable customers to share their likes with their peers.
Social commerce for publishers
Publishers are increasingly getting savvy about social media and big name authors are being ‘followed’ online by millions of fans. Now the next step is for every publisher with a social media presence, and that should be all publishers, to have a social commerce strategy in place to generate income from this potentially lucrative revenue stream.
They should be looking to build a layer of social commerce under their social media, turning online conversations about products and brands into sales opportunities. For publishers, readers will be talking about their favourite books online and will be looking for others, through their social networks, to validate their preferences.
As a concrete example, Amazon now links to Facebook, allowing users to log on and see what their aunt, best friend, etc. wants to buy or has bought in the recent past. This system has proved that it will drive physical and digital purchases. If customers are talking about a publisher’s product on their Facebook pages and they buy something on Amazon the two will be linked and a friend might just see the recommendation and click the ‘buy’ button as a result. Over the years Amazon has struggled with the thorny issue of online discoverability and recommendation, but hasn’t had a way of knowing who people’s friends are and how to tap into these vast social networks. Now it knows so much about our friend’s preferences, its virtual store front has transformed into a social storefront.
Whereas traditional marketing methods such as direct marketing and advertising are increasingly viewed as slightly dated, out-of-touch and too much of a ‘hard sell’, social networks offer a far more appealing platform from which brands can market their products and services. They promise a lighter, softer, in-tune, friendly and arguably far more influential way of targeting an audience and achieving greater ROI.
Fulfilment has always had connotations of warehouses and men in brown coats moving boxes around but, in the digital age, fulfilment actually means moving any piece of content, either physical or digital, through a vastly different food chain. Retail sites, blogs and social media might all appear within that chain. Social media is not only the window to your market place, but also an open door – ignore it and you risk missing the boat to capture viral sales from social shopping.
Author schedules, product updates and promotions can all be pushed out virally by social media through alerts and linked feeds. Whilst it would be fair to say that the publishing industry is fairly attuned to the opportunities social media presents on surface level, social commerce will soon be a decisive factor.
In order to ensure your business can actively monetise social media, the question to ask your IT guys is what social commerce mechanism and social media feeds exist as part of your fulfilment solution? The most likely answer is none. Perhaps it’s time to ask for a new fulfilment solution….
If you want to find out more about how to integrate a social commerce strategy into your business, keep your eye on this blog for further relevant posts or feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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