Apple, Facebook and Beyoncé provide the first real social commerce case study

On 12Dec Beyoncé released her new album exclusively on iTunes without any hype or pre-release marketing. The announcement came on Instagram when Beyoncé released a fifteen-second video showing clips of her new album, followed by a Facebook post with a link to the iTunes page to download songs and videos.

Surprise!

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Without a doubt, within seconds of the announcement the whole social media world erupted with a buzz around the new album and iTunes crashed due to overwhelming demand for her music.
https://twitter.com/ShreyaMehta_/status/411475919136915456

Everyone from the media to fellow celebrities jumped on the bandwagon to endorse the star and so get more eyeballs on their respective profiles and websites.

Fans too went crazy about the surprise gift for them just before Christmas from their favourite artist. They were in awe of the subtleness of this launch with no advertising and hoopla. In fact even Beyoncé critics were forced to accept this genius marketing move and were full of praise.


What does this mean for digital marketers and social commerce?

Apple (iTunes) and Facebook (Instagram), with Beyoncé, have given us the first pure social commerce case study, as this whole experience, from announcing her new album on Instagram & Facebook and releasing it on iTunes with an eruption of follow up word of mouth buzz on Twitter, did not use any traditional means of selling products and services. And yet it managed to:

1) Supersede traditional marketing channels such as newspapers, magazines, music blogs, radios and online advertising.

2) Bypass traditional commerce channels that force you to register your personal and payment details before the transaction.

3) Be a real time experience with ubiquitous accessibility and capture pre-holiday impulse buying.

I know, these are early days for social commerce, as Beyoncé is already a world famous artist, and getting huge attention on social media and exclusive deals with iTunes have made this release an overnight sensation.

And, there is strong possibility that Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg, along with Jay-Z, put together a deal behind the scenes in order to put Instagram and iTunes on the social commerce map, but this experience has been a lesson to digital marketers on the future of commerce, where on demand accessibility with a personal touch will define product and service monetisation, and traditional means of expensive and cumbersome advertising and transactions will have no place.

Instagram Stabbing Itself By Leaving Twitter Cards Off

Hunter Walk

YouTube never disabled embeds on Twitter or Facebook, letting visitors to those products watch a YouTube video without ever coming to our site. YouTube worked with Apple to make our app a default experience on iOS, even leaving it effectively non-monetized until last year. Why? Because we knew our users were on those sites and we wanted YouTube to be synonymous with “video.” Because we knew we could create a differentiated on-site experience which drove clicks back to our site from those embeds. And because we knew that our community was OURS only so long as we served THEIR needs.

Instagram photos ceased being viewable on Twitter last December due to a strategic decision by Facebook management, which Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said was “their prerogative.” At the time Instagram was building out a web presence and seeking overall to drive more consumers to view photos within Instagram…

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Tweepforce Roundup(1st Oct): Tim Cook Tweets, Surge in @Mention & Promoted Trends

Tweepforce continue to roundup Twitter stories and help businesses leverage this platform for businesses and product development.

Rouhani to Tim Cook on Twitter

Tim Cook (Apple CEO), contrary to his predecessor (Steve Jobs), has jumped on the Twitter bandwagon with several other noticeable tech CEOs including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Dell CEO Michael Dell. Cook’s decision to join the social network demonstrates that Apple has recognised Twitter as a PR tool to reach out to both shareholders and customers. – http://ow.ly/pofgb #Blog

Things I Learned Working on the Twitter Platform

Ryan Sarver

I was lucky enough to spend the last four years of my life working with an incredible team of people on the Twitter Platform. I joined Twitter in June of 2009, shortly after Alex Payne had launched and built the early community around the Twitter API. While my role initially entailed product and engineering management, I spent all four years focused on building an ecosystem of companies that created value for our users and our partners and that’s where I’ll focus these posts. It was my first time doing anything like it and I learned an incredible amount through trial and error. There were failures, triumphs, and great lessons learned along the way.

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Is it really mobile vs. social or mobile + social = commerce?

As soon as the black Friday commerce data was published with a thumbs up to mobile commerce and a hard beating to social commerce, people started doubting all the hype surrounded social commerce! In a way this thrashing can be justified, as businesses are now expecting significant return on investment after spending substantial amounts of money on social media marketing, from paying consultants to running guerrilla campaigns to engaging people via this medium.



Black Friday Commerce Stats

On the other hand, an introduction of smartphones and tablets has hugely boosted the mobile commerce numbers and if you believe the pundits, by 2015 every 3rd online transaction will happen via mobile device and every second offline buyer will check goods prices on a phone before buying it in the shop!



And as a result of this, every online and offline retailer is vigorously competing to introduce apps with all the latest technologies, such as voice recognition, Image and barcode scanning, to win mobile-savvy customers and to support mobile payments; meanwhile, all remittance suppliers are surging ahead with one-click mobile payment technology!

Which means, if John Smith wants to buy a tie he’s just seen in a magazine or website, he will scan that on his phone to check best available price and buy in one click to be delivered next or same day to him! i.e., the convenience at the best for price sensitive customers!!

So the question is – in this mobile and app commerce world, where does the social commerce fit, or is there any room for the social-verse when all swords are out for Social ROI? And the answer is – definitely social commerce is going to prevail due to simple reason that, we gradually start spending more of our online time on social media networks,those have become our second point of contact when we are watching TV, dinning at restaurants, shopping at mauls or even spending time with friends.

However, there will be a transition, or perhaps it’s already happening, from finding information (or products) on social media to eventually buying the product from that medium! Currently even social media networks from Facebook to Twitter to Google+ to Pinterest are positioning themselves as information gateways, so that when it comes to finding the best shopping trends, images, ratings and reviews, many look at their social universe but still buy on at non-social network platform ranging from Amazon to eBay.And for businesses social media is the place to collect data as thousands of people around many platforms are talking and sharing views continuously about their products!



I think the next stage would be, or perhaps already is, that we will be able to buy desired products from purely social networks rather than using them just as pre- and post-sale discovery tools.


However, I am not a firm believer in an app economy i.e. I don’t believe that apps running on social media will be the main tool of its transition from discovery to transaction tool.


But, if Facebook, Twitter and especially Pinterest can become pure marketplace for both suppliers and consumers, yet maintain consumer privacy and business identity, than they have a winning formula.
And, to a certain extent, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Pinterest brand pages, widgets and APIs are gradually building social interest and knowledge, and professional graphs, which are the right steps in social commerce directions, where both businesses and consumers can interact and know each other. However transactions with payment are still a stumbling block as these networks don’t have their users’ credit card info, which means that to make payment on social networks, both suppliers and consumers needs to seek third party help.

I think here Apple, Amazon or eBay, with millions of consumers’ credit card details, are in very advantageous position, and if they somehow manage to amalgamate social media to their platforms, then we have winner too! But Apple, with Ping, has already burnt their hand in this area – eBay is currently going all image driven (like Pinterest)– results are yet to be seen! And Amazon reviews remain one of the most prominent places to find product information, but not the place to hang out with friends!

Overall even, if we know the winning formula for Social Commerce is eBay + Facebook, there are still a few very hard yards to cover to reach this stage. We all know that just as we don’t hang out with friends in shops and don’t buy goods in restaurants or bars, it would be a humongous task to mix social and ecommerce sites, but I am sure we are not far now from a time when we will have the technology to mix these two, leaving buyers’ privacy and business identity intact. And while this transition will take place, mobile will become (or has already become) the prime device to find and buy products and services. Which means the formula for successful monetisation would be mobile device + social network = commerce!

Facebook SWOT Analysis via Twitter Timeline!

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One Billion Facebook users not enough to make $100bn company

Congratulations to Facebook on reaching one billion users milestone, this is undoubtedly an huge achievement and must be accoladed whole heartedly!

But I might be wrong, it seems to me that Zuckerberg has carried away with sheer number of users and good words from a stalwart like Steve Jobs about his stubbornness to remain product focussed and not interest based revenue-centric, and although he ended up building the best social network platform, so far he has failed to leverage it for shareholders (shares are already down by 40+%).


And when he really tried to please them by launching various FB apps and bombarding users with ads, sponsored status and promoted stories, users become disgruntled about a timeline so full of commercial page links that they have become more listener than participant, and are confused as to why they need so many apps to manage their accounts!



So what exactly went wrong with Facebook? I think, they followed Apple theory too religiously; they built beautiful product (like all iProducts) and then tried to control their ecosystem (Like App Store) in order to monetise it – but can Facebook really follow a purely Apple model?
I don’t think so. Why? Firstly, they don’t have ‘must have’ products for users – social engagement can be substituted or complimented by email, SMS, phone, or via rival networks. Users of iPhones and iPads have no choice but to use Apple by-products, only be available on their devices, including the highly deprecated iMap on IOS6! Whereas they have many choices and no compulsion when it comes to using Facebook and its applications.

In other words, Facebook can’t really push things on their users; it should try to build on what is already working, like Zynga games, Spotify music sharing, or the recently launched Facebook Gift!



I think Facebook Gifts are a great idea and can replace the way we do transactions, specially buying products for family, friends and loved ones – because stats suggests 80+% of us like to buy things from word of mouth recommendations or friends’ suggestions – and there is no better place than Facebook to get recommendations from friends.

In summary Facebook needs to build products with tightly coupled commerce ability not push advertising like pages you may like, sponsored posts or sponsored stories. Along with Facebook gifts (i.e. currency, or credit) let’s build a more open ecosystem for developers so that Zynga- and Spotify-like companies can build really lucrative communities to pour some money in and make Facebook a $100bn company!