With 600 million members and companies starting to sell their products there, Facebook could potentially become the largest shopping space in the world. The remaining question being: what will be the role of this emerging F-commerce – Facebook Commerce – as brands develop their wider E-commerce strategy?
High street and department store, what’s the difference?
Some will say, a department store is nothing but a high street in one building, where the owner takes a certain percentage of the sold product for letting that definite space to a brand. Others will say it is all about curation and this is why people are willing to pay more expensive price tags: a pre-selection has already been made for them, making the shopping experience easier and less scary too. On a shopping avenue like Les Champs Elysées or Fifth Avenue, if you want to see the offering of each brand, you would have to enter in each store. And some stores with their reputation and expensive clothes seem unfriendly to the “just looking” policy. The department store solves this as it is all in one place, organised differently with “Jeans” areas offering several brands, allowing you to try them all at the same time. It also takes risks by featuring up-and-coming designers that you cannot find on high streets. And this curation process is key in the department store’s offering.
Facebook: the Internet’s main high street
The internet is a vast space and search engines (mainly Google) were our only path to find our way in the world wide web. If the internet is like one of these European cities with multiple and complicated small streets, Facebook has become the main gathering place. It is a point of reference for all: a place to connect and share. A London urban legend says that if you remain on Piccadilly Circus more than 37 minutes, you will cross someone you know. Remain on Facebook for 2 minutes and you will find a “friend” to talk to. And as a place where people discuss and share things, it has also become a starting point for many web journeys that would have previously begun on search engines.
Social networks are the discovery channel
Search engines are an easy way to “get to.” You know what you are looking for, you just do not know yet what website it can be found on. Search engines help you to find out, but they are a passage, not an end. Facebook has become both an end – people use it for its primary purpose: sharing photos, moods and jokes with friends – and a way to “get to”, a way to discover things, to explore thanks to the power of social recommendation.
Facebook: the modern department store
This is where Facebook makes a difference: brands, friends and other influential figures such as fashion bloggers are carrying the curation process. Thanks to suggestions you receive from friends or pages you have liked, you’re going to see many things you might like “under one roof” – but instead of that roof being a department store, it’s a website.
It is an evolving space that changes with your needs and your tastes, allowing you to reduce choices so that they fit you. It is a department store, adapted to you. The brands that will become successful using “F-commerce” will be those who understand the nature of this – that consumers want to be guided through the shopping experience, to receive recommendations from different sources while keeping the process of buying under one roof.
In today’s environment, openness and ethics are becoming primary policies. As “People” is being considered as the 5th P in the definition of the Marketing Mix, major corporations are struggling with how to handle this new dimension. They have often been misperceived by consumers because of the low level of interaction between the two. And the rule is often the following: people fear what they do not understand (in this instance, corporations).
In order to make a real difference, major corporations should not try to influence people’s perception only through campaigns. They should nurture consumer ecosystems by injecting content: informative and entertaining content explaining what the company core business is and how it is benefiting society. This will elevate their brand, and surpass competitors.
Social Media can be defined as a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value. Thus major corporations should start interacting with their customer base to create conversations, bring knowledge and fight misperceptions.
It is not about manipulation but about building trust. For instance, BP’s inability to apologize has hurt its ability to have an honest conversation, however difficult, with the public. BP’s social media campaign might have hurt the brand’s image more than it has helped. It was not really an attempt to fix the stark reality but more a control issue.
The crisis hit the economy deeply during the past few years. Corporations have suffered but people have suffered too and their distrust has been rising. Thus, this is the most important time to act. Glen Leonard explained in his conference entitled “The Future of Social Media” how in a near future, as the environment is becoming more and more transparent because of social media, Social Capital would represent a major source of importance for companies.
Building campaigns across all platforms, both online and offline, all conceived as a whole to deliver successfully integrated communication is what major corporations should be doing; social media being the tool to create meaningful conversations.
2010 might have been the year to think things through, but 2011 is the year to match people’s desires. Goldman Sachs buying stakes in Facebook is a sign that companies are ready to make the move. Social Capital will see its importance grow to a new dimension.
Last week, I read that article about searchers developing a new type of software that would soon be able to write news on its own. Short articles about what’s going on in the world could very soon be written by computers. It’s crazy to think that maybe in a near future, while looking for the author of the article you’re reading, you’ll see something like Software EX566…
And it is no isolated case. Right now, it seems like everywhere, we are dealing more and more with automatic voicemails. In order to spare money, companies are using more and more machines. And i’m not even talking about the industry. The intervention of the man happens more and more lately in the creation process. I’m not saying it is always a shame – regarding the industry for instance, no one wants go back to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times movie. But regarding reservations and stuff like customer services, I know I wish I could deal with a real person most of the time. That’s why I think Apple Stores are the greatest invention.
Well with social media it is different. People want to communicate and if brands want to make the most of all of these conversations, they must hire someone to listen to their customers and to share with them.
So we should all hope social media continue their incredible growth because after all it might be a great new source of hiring as anything relating to social media is based on being human and to be honest, that’s good news…
Humans are back in the game!!!
As we are moving forward on our dissertation about the Luxury Industry & Social Media, more questions are raised everyday. And this was one of them: Who should hold the Twitter company’s account?
Indeed, if the company still belongs to its creator such as Zappos than for sure, as he is the face of the company, he is the only one who can held the company’s Twitter account. As the company is his own creation, he also represents the values and everything that makes the company’s identity. We could easily imagine that the designers of a new fashion line could hold their company’s Twitter account.
In today’s social media web environment, luxury companies are struggling to find the proper solution to perpetuate this exclusive experience they procure within their shops and via their ads in the appropriate magazines. But what do customers really want? People want to know what it is to be a part of this company, what is the kind of lifestyle you are supposed to maintain. What better way to diffuse this particular experience than via the creator’s Twitter account? Customers will thus be learning about the stress coming from the fashion show and everything linked to a creation process, which develops at the same time a strong brand awareness.
But what about established luxury companies such as Chanel for instance? Who is supposed to hold this account?
If it is just the company talking then usually it is not much more than an RSS feed which makes it pretty boring for a Twitter account and which would also means under-exploiting the twitter tool as a marketing tool.
In order to perpetuate this particular experience that only luxury brands can procure, this sense of uniqueness, you need to diffuse the kind of lifestyle you company tries to give to its customers.
It should then be someone who actually lives and represents the company but not a public figure. Karl Lagerfeld would not hold Chanel’s Twitter account as his identity is too strong, not mentioning he has his own brand and twitter account for his brand. It should be someone with less public identity. Then, the day the person goes, the company Twitter account cannot die. Companies must be very careful with how much they invest into their public faces. Via the web and social media, unsatisfied customers can react and modify a brand’s reputation pretty fast. Plus we all know how much a crowd is influential, so we could imagine a designer employed by a luxury company using its Twitter account to get where he/she wants.
Though I have seen a pretty good example of how a company should deal with its Twitter account in order to avoid making it boring but also to avoid giving too much importance to the person holding the account.
It’s the Twitter account for the 4A’s: http://twitter.com/4as
Bio: The official twitter account for the 4A’s, the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Account is managed by our Web Editor, Ted LaBarbera.
The way the account is actually handled is still very shy in my opinion as what readers really want to know is how is the life in the advertising world. But on the principle, I like their bio very much and I think companies should do it this way.
Let’s have a look at a few luxury companies twitter account:
The Lady Dior Twitter Account was only created to support the Lady Dior campaign – which makes it more or less an RSS feed. This way to deal with the twitter account is ok here because it is not the company twitter account.
The LouisVuitton US Twitter Account is no more than a RRS feed also. It is exclusively talking about Louis Vuitton and there is no engagement with their customers. They are using twitter to tell a story…not to listen.
The Baume & Mercier Twitter Account who follows almost 6,000 people is using its account as a Press Review which is not a bad idea. But there is still a very limited interaction and we don’t know much more about the company’s spirit and value.
Luxury companies should understand that their readers want to be a part of this world, want to learn about its habits, its rules & its values. To do so, companies will need to put a face behind the account because Twitter is a social media, meaning that there should be interaction and engagement.
Social media shouldn’t be just another way to advertize but a new marketing tool where customers and companies could interact and learn from each others.
They say people are afraid of what they don’t know?
Well let’s face it, that’s indeed the stark reality. In today’s societies, minorities are still suffering because they are being misunderstood or misjudged by the majority. I guess you would think that this would all come together at some point and that eventually we would end up living in a peaceful and comprehensive world. If you ask me, we are still very far from it and that’s kind of too bad because the idea of a peaceful planet seemed pretty cool.
They say people are afraid of what they don’t know?
Good news, in today’s world, there is no need to remain afraid as anyone can access the information very easily. The major change that is happening with social media is that you are not anymore reading these informations on a website – which could be written by someone with wrong intentions – but you can now engage with people that have this information and get to understand what is the difference and why you should or shouldn’t be worried about it.
Knowledge grows when shared. That’s one of the major beliefs of social media. Sharing and engaging can help to make people change and I don’t think it is as fool as it sounds. Think about all the possibilities allowed by social media. You are no longer passive when receiving the information. You are now an active member of the information as you can comment on it and express your opinion about it. Plus I strongly believe that the huge amount of people communicating via social media is operating some sort of regulation in order to maintain the content as pertinent and useful.
Today, social media are still reserved to some sort of geek elite, it is still very materialistic. But think about it, involving people into a world where most of the content is free and when sharing is rarely translated into money, it is already making us evolve towards a less excessive and less money-centric society.
Why couldn’t we dream of a world where as more and more people communicate without boundaries, more and more prejudices are eliminated driving everyone towards a better philosophy of life. I am very well aware of how utopic all of this may sound, but as said in my previous post, this is the era of the consumer, the era of people vs organizations. It is no revolution, it is just an evolution: the opportunity that everyone expresses his own fears in order to solve them or to make them less scary.
So Can Social Media Save Us All?
Until recently, companies were making nearly all the choices for their consumers. Products were conceived with a set of designers, engineers and finance people, i.e. people whose main agenda was not so much about the customers’ needs. Market studies were done to determine possible opportunities to create and launch a new product and then tests were run on a panel of customers. Products were adapted but it was never optimum. Few customers were actually taking part in the process of creation and most of the time; the most successful products were the ones with the best marketing and advertising campaign (and maybe the more money behind it).
But as social medias are implementing a change of mind, where engaging is the new way to gain customer’s attention and to benefit from their ideas for almost nothing, we are entering in a new era: the Era of the customer.
The engaging process that is happening right now will see a transfer of power take place. Customers have been willing to participate in the creation process of the products they use on a daily basis in order to make them better. People don’t want to be passive anymore as social medias are finally giving them a voice. Firms have heard the consumers call and they are answering. Now a new way of being extremely creative, maintaining the centre of attention while sparing the money has emerged – economic crisis averted. Budgets are lowered for everyone and it might seem like we are heading towards a less money-oriented world but more creative, with more interaction. Could technology be making us more human?
I remember seeing this US TV show where one of these cool design companies from the Silicon Valley was supposed to reinvent the grocery cart. The first thing they did was to go and meet the day to day users of this product meaning the consumers – like you and me – and the guy who is in charge to park all those. Well these type of actions are great but most companies just didn’t have the time nor the money to do these kind if things. Now this can be done for any company regardless of the budget, manpower, and creative skills. You can and you must interact with your customers or you will fall behind.
I spoke with one of my friends recently who said something pretty naïve but also damn right. When you go to the drugstore, if your prescription says 3 pills a day for 5 days, why would you need a box of 20 pills? Why the waste in terms of money and in terms of medicine?
As customers are getting more and more involved into the creation process, they will design products perfectly adapted to their needs. Undoubtedly, companies will benefit much from it, as people will be more willing to buy a product that is theirs, not mentioning that using other people’s creativity will spare money for these companies that are already on a tight budget.
Though costumers with more power will certainly mean more demanding customers. As soon as they will be sufficiently implied in the co-creation process and as soon as they will measure the transfer of power – notion of power with – they will ask for more at some point. Why not think of a retribution process? After all, time is money…
Casual and easy list of my favourites blackberry applications. Also I have recently uploaded OS 6 on my Bold 9700 and to be honest, it works so much better than OS 5. My phone has not crashed in ages now. So happy!
– Facebook for Blackberry
– Twitter for Blackberry
– Google Maps
– What’s App
– Gmail for Blackberry
– Blackberry Travel App
– London Tube Map
– NYTimes App