Social Selling or Selling our Souls?
Social media has never been more exciting. It has not only revolutionised the media landscape – changing the way journalists, companies and the average Joe communicate – but it has had an astronomical impact on society and how we live our lives. For businesses, social media is now so valuable that it is not just respected as an accountable marketing function, but it is now being used as a purposeful sales channel… literally.
Many of us will think of social selling as using social media channels to communicate with audiences, building a relationship while subtly selling the brand and appropriate products. However, last week saw a significant milestone in social selling through the partnership of Amazon and Twitter - #AmazonBasket.
We’ve all been there before – scrolling through Twitter and seen something we wanted to buy, but didn’t have the time to look into it further, then remembering to pick it up just after it was sold out. The #AmazonBasket service could soon fix that, allowing customers to tweet items direct to their online basket. When they see a tweet with an Amazon link to the product they want to buy, they can reply with the hashtag, automatically and publicly reserving their new product awaiting their payment.
So technically, the dangerous impulsive buying aspect is lessened (unless you use Amazon’s One Click payment service), but the concept has raised a few eyebrows.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of #AmazonBasket is that this allows Amazon to hold social media to more account – making tweets more actionable and generating a direct and measurable response on investment. All they have to do now is calculate the conversion rate from intent (replying with #AmazonBasket) to actually purchasing; and understand how they can improve this. This access to Twitter data provides further insight into their customers’ identity – if they can see my purchase and browsing history on Amazon, they can link this to my Twitter geolocation, which in turn helps them provide more accurate and relevant personalised advertising.
Although there isn’t much speculation into Twitter’s benefit of the partnership, this could be a sign of the social media giant making innovative steps to – in their words – ‘create a bridge and not an island’ to a brand's site, therefore gaining more attention, trust and investment. It was reported following the announcement that Twitter’s IPO had in fact increased.
I personally quite like the idea of #AmazonBasket – it’s certainly very interesting in terms of social media. But I do question its long term stability, as customers may start to question where their data is going and who has access to it. Although it is frustrating to miss the opportunity to buy the perfect outfit you’ve seen on Twitter, it is fundamentally a conversation platform which is in danger of being compromised – especially if the service is rolled through more brands which become so infatuated with the thought of social selling that they disregard the mutual conversation aspect.
Despite all of this, social selling (in the literal sense) isn’t a new phenomenon – brands have utilised social media in various product launch campaigns, converting tweets into currency! I’m in two minds about Amazon’s long term commitment to social selling, although I do love these clever short term campaigns below:
Kellogg’s Tweet Shop
Way back in 2012, Kellogg’s led the way in social currency (and sampling) when they opened their Tweet Shop to launch the new range of Special K Cracker Crisps in Soho, London.
Open for four days with a ‘try before you buy’ snacking area and a ‘community noticeboard’ that captured social media reaction, more than 1,500 packs of crisps were sampled. The activity provoked over 50,000 branded Tweets and more than 400 pieces of editorial media coverage.
Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop
Similar to the Kellogg’s tweet shop concept, Marc Jacobs abolished all monetary currency and accepted only social currency in the form of tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook posts tagging #MJDaisyChain, to create a ‘social daisy chain’ in February to launch its Daisy fragrance.
The Anthon Berg Generous Store
At the Anthon Berg Generous Store money was of no use – the chocolate popup store in Copenhagen was the first shop where customers could only buy their chocolate with the promise of a good deed (and of course a social media mention!). Instead of cash tills, customers paid at iPad stations by logging into their Facebook accounts and posting the promise of the good deed on the walls of both the giver and receiver. Most people who purchased the chocolate kept their promise and posted pictures as evidence on Anthon Berg’s Facebook Page!