Over the past few days I attended the Social Commerce Strategies conference in Las Vegas, NV. Honestly, it was one of the best organized conferences I’ve attended. Well done to the team putting together the entire event.
I had the opportunity to connect with a wide range of organizations looking to turn social into a revenue generator. We heard from Dell, Coke, Travelocity, Whirlpool, GNC, Shop Igniter, Wal-Mart Labs and a host of others. The following is a summation of key take-aways that spanned the multiple presentations, panels and conversations that took place:
- Social is an accelerator, not a direct generator: This was a big theme and something the Wal-Mart Labs championed. Social helps you make the cash register ring faster and with greater impact, but the mistake many organizations make is treating it like it’s own revenue channel. This was akin to early eCommerce websites, where the online experience was completely separate from the in-store experience. But, as those sites evolved, the connection between online and store became greater. Social should be considered the same way.
- Predictive Analysis: Very impressive presentation from the Wal-Mart labs team. They believe that they can predict an online customer’s behavior with 90%+ accuracy based on the social graph data (likes, dislikes, interests, what they’ve shared, etc.) and shopping history. ShoppyCat, though low in “usage” is considered a success by the labs team because of the increased data acquired and it’s impact on future shopping experiences on WalMart.com.
- The Hunt For Social Signals: Social offers us signals that should guide our decisions. What someone does in social leaves a digital fingerprint. But, those finger prints are often ignored because they seem small in the grand scheme of things and we’re usually focused on large social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But, when we look beyond those large networks, we start to see signals, a la cookies, that can help us guide what content to show and when.
- Expressions over Impressions: A near continuation of #3, but people are now leveraging social to express themselves. Pinterest is a great example of this. The photos they pin are an expression and representation of the user. The best social experiences enable customers to express themselves. Coke referenced several initiatives for their Vitamin Water brand where they’re experimenting with this concept…some have worked and others not so much. I think Beauty and Photo for Walgreens have huge opportunity under this thinking.
- Pay To Play: As social networks look to monetize and in some cases start delivering shareholder value (e.g. Google+) the ability to simply build on the backs of these networks organically is becoming harder and harder. A brand will either need to invest in complimentary advertising to make people aware of their initiative or invest in better and more compelling experiences. Both cost incremental dollars.
- Social + Search = Gold Mine: Everyone agrees this is future. Social and search will continue integrating to provide a better and more personal set of search engine results. Brands will need to make decisions based on perceived intent. For example, if I search Walgreens Facebook Promotion, I should be driving someone to Facebook, not Walgreens.com. It seems basic and simple, but few brands are doing this. With only limited dollars to go around, it’s tough to justify driving someone to your Facebook page where the instant purchase opportunity is low. The efforts by Google+, in this area, will be interesting to watch. The prevailing thought and said by the head of social at Whirlpool was, “start thinking about your Google+ strategy and working closer with Google than you ever have before. If you don’t you’ll end up far behind.”
I presented on both a panel and a session called The Case For The Return on Amazing. The slides can be found here:
The video from slide 44 can be seen here:
All in all a good trip with lots of knowledge exchanged.
One think I did want to call out, since it came up in a lot of the offline conversations is that “tinkering” could be the next big thing for large organizations. Companies like Dell and Wal-Mart have teams dedicated to the idea of tinkering. What’s tinkering? It’s the concept of giving a team a problem, they in turn “tinker” and generate ideas. The ideas are rapidly prototype and thrust into social channels for immediate feedback. Bad ideas are dropped. Good ideas stick. And great ideas become something bigger. It’s innovation the way it should be…like a startup!