The Rise of Social Commerce (s-Commerce)
We've seen companies like Amazon and Facebook transition from a laser-focused CD and movie source and social media network respectively, into multi-faceted money making machines. Amazon has positioned itself as THE online marketplace in the United States and has diversified into other web services like hosting and marketing as well as developing its own distribution infrastructure to the point that it can rival virtually any logistics company and it has its sights set on grocers too.
Meanwhile, Facebook has gone from cool collegiate exclusivity to the most ubiquitous social channel in the world. Recently, Facebook revealed that it would amplify its existing e-commerce ads to account for showcase shopping ads. Just like Google, Facebook is taking advantage of their online resources to help advertisers push more merchandise just in time for holiday shopping. The new ad format allows advertisers to display one main picture with several product images that would, ostensibly, have their own unique landing pages. This gives the potential consumer a broader understanding of what the retailer may be selling and what's specially priced.
Pandora's box is open and there's no going back. Linking a bank account to everyone's personal Facebook page isn't far off and this may raise security concerns all over the world, but for now, social media will undoubtedly see a rise in sell-through, especially with reasonably priced impulse buys. It will continue to command an ever-increasing amount of your advertising budget as their ads evolve in terms of what can be done with them creatively and who can be targeted strategically. Currently, only a few heavy hitters are testing out the new format, but look for a wider roll-out soon with other companies following suit in 2017. Admittedly, I laughed derisively when some people claimed that Facebook was coming for Google. Well, it appears that not only do they want to compete with Google, but with Amazon and Alibaba as well. What's more is that they seem to have the golden touch right now and I wouldn't put anything past them.
The Less You Do….The More You DO
As I perused AdAge this morning, I stumbled upon a lengthy article about Eat24 parting ways with the “social” giant. I must say that Eat24 made some very valid points. Facebook has been acquiring a wide array of social media companies as well as some more questionable acquisitions in the form of Oculis Rift, a VR gaming company. The push for monetization on Facebook's end has been maddening. The downward spiral seemingly stemmed from its IPO some time ago. Since then, a myriad of questionable decisions and frivelous spending have plagued the once mighty social giant.
Eat24 wrote “We made mistakes too. We actually paid for some of those annoying promoted posts. You were all like, 'Dude, you gotta try out promoted posts, It'll help you make more friends and then more people can enjoy your LOLZ.' So we tried it because we loved you. Also, YOLO… And it's true, we got a ton of new likes on our page. Look at all these new friends, we thought. There's a guy in Houston, and this guy in… Bangladesh? And this girl in… Dubai? WTF Facebook!?… Right now we're only in the U.S., so even though we love our new international friends, we'd prefer not to piss them off by showing them a photo of a delicious calzone that they can't even order.”
While this was hilarious, it was also frighteningly true. You couldn't hit the nail on the head any better, unless you were to read further….
“But the bigger picture issue is that we can't trust you. You lied to us and said you were a social network but you're totally not a social network. At least not anymore… Why should we have to wade through a dozen promoted posts about how to lose belly fat (are you trying to tell us something?) and requests for Candy Crush (NO! Just no.) and suggesting we like our arch nemesis' page (seriously, WTF) before we can finally find the perfect Doge meme? It really seems like you've lost your way and have become nothing more than an ad platform.”
As someone who must delve into the social realm on a daily basis, sometimes against my better judgment, I can completely understand. So why do we stay active on Facebook. Simply put, it's the perceived lack of alternatives. I WILL, however, step out on a limb and vouch for the legitimacy of Google Plus. Not only can you network with anyone regardless of whether you originally knew them or not, but you can receive feeds from people that you actually want to hear from and organize your contacts into endless sub-groups. This past week, I even played trivia in real-time via Google Plus Hangout's Sporcle app.
What's more is that Facebook is constantly changing their user interface as well as the frequency with which organic reach for small businesses occurs. Change happens far too often and sometimes things are best left alone.
End of rant.
One Spark, Endless Opportunities….
Jacksonville could become synonymous with this festival and it could beckon innovators, philanthropists, community organizers, and more for years to come. If this event is as successful as I anticipate it will be, our One Spark could rival several other festivals simply because of the uniqe crowd-funding opportunity that exists. Everyone will be vying for a piece of the $250,000 pie, but if that weren't enough, investors like our own Shad Khan have pledged massive amounts of money to innovators and fledgling companies. One Spark has electrified social media and the entire city has been buzzing about it for months. It's truly a testament to the power of networking. I foresee the next festival really upping the ante and bringing even more money to the table and even more international talent to the shores of the First Coast. I'll see you there, April 17-21 in downtown Jacksonville! Be One Spark.
Never Thought I’d Be Jealous Of Kansas City
This service, which goes for $130/month for TV and internet, was originally only available in Kansas City, MO/KS (of all places) and has received such wild fanfare that Austin will be next. It's assumed that the roll-out will be implemented in Texas even faster than it was in Kansas City due to the city's higher population density in Austin. However, this makes me believe that Jacksonville, the country's largest city in terms of square-mileage, won't exactly be on the short list to receive the service. This seems to be fitting skepticism considering we can't even get decent broadband coverage at our location in the heart of downtown Jacksonville. SO, this is the point in my blog, where I will crank my megaphone to 1,000 and urge my fellow residents of Jacksonville to write the mayor's office, write your senator, and pester Google incessantly to have the “Bold New City of the South” live up to its namesake by incorporating Google Fiber throughout our fine city. The potential applications for this service are endless and could change the way we do business, watch television, disseminate information, educate our children, and so on….Let's start a grass-roots movement to be the first city on the eastern seaboard to employ this paradigm-shifting technology! OH, and before I forget…..that Google stock that is north of $800/share that people think will be tapering off or even becoming cheaper….THINK AGAIN.
Connecting with an audience is the most important goal an advertiser needs to accomplish. Beyond pushing your agenda, your message and your product… you need to connect with your consumer on their level in order to make your brand or product relevant to their daily lives.
This desire to make a connection inevitably and quite naturally found itself taking over the internet. It makes sense… Go where the people are. You cannot get through a single work day without logging on, so why not focus advertising energy to those sites which are visited most. But, how can you make your efforts social and interactive? Many have found their answer to be: By incentivizing! How many businesses have you liked simply because you liked them? Or did they have to ask you to, boasting some sort of promise? Do you still visit those websites or has the social media realm captivated your attention?
This brings me to my title for this piece, AntiSocial Media. I believe, as I said before, that social media is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless. And while its title implies a form of communicating which promotes social behavior, it, in fact, diminishes our abilities to be social, connect and interact on a personal level. What’s the need for calling your college buddies to catch up when you can view their lives on the internet, look at pictures of their wedding and see their kids grow up in the posted family photo albums…? No need to call your friends about buying that new house, just post it and they can take the tour themselves!
This reminds me of the car commercial where the daughter says her parents aren't really living because they don’t have any friends on Facebook, all the while, they are out enjoying their lives while she is sitting at home socializing on her computer, alone.
Through all this quick and easy connection comes a very real disconnect far greater than I think we would like to admit. What’s more important, living your life for you, or so it fills your wall nicely? Do you take pictures for yourself anymore, or has personal photography reduced itself to the sole purpose of showing off? I hope we can get back to a healthy balance of communication where we can supplement our lives with technology but not replace it entirely. Unfortunately, it has become so common, that to not have a presence means you don’t exist.
We continue this trend because “everybody else is doing it”, and I certainly have nothing against the platforms themselves, just what human nature has done with them. So, we do what we have to, to prove that we exist and that our clients do as well – but I look forward to a time where advancements improve our abilities, instead of hindering them.