Some thoughts on Social Shopping and Click Consumerism

At the moment we’re having a lot of discussions on the Like Minds LinkedIn group, and one of these discussions recently was about Facebook’s new Social Plugins and how people felt this created a new level of trust and social authority.

As you know, I did a video about this last week, in which I use lots of long words and jokes to basically point out this is move means we trust something more if we see our friends have liked it.

My friend Stuart Witts added the above video to the conversation, in which Levi’s have just used two of Facebook’s plugins to enable people to:

  1. Like individual items in their catalogue
  2. Invite their friends to connect to a storefront

This must’ve taken a developer no more than an hour to integrate into their site, and to be quite honest, doesn’t really do anything new: it just simply shows people what their friends like, and let’s their friends know when they like something.

Of course that in itself is very powerful. James Poulter, who I met at Like Minds Immersive in March, wrote yesterday about this new form of consumerism (what we could call ‘click-consumerism’?), and asks how this changes the purchase=self definition model that rose in the 60s and has been with us since.

My thoughts in the comments in James’ post were that this universal like button will also track what we like, as opposed to what we think we should like or say we like. Certainly, we’re seeing the early stages of Social Shopping.

How Can Local Businesses Use This?

The boast of social authority (the proof that their friends like, therefore they should like too) that this gives local businesses is huge. Seeing that 159 of my friends like Nike is no big woop — we all know of Nike and like Nike.

But seeing that 45 of my friends like that restaurant that I haven’t been to, or buy from that store that I’ve only just heard of, or are business people who use that service on the industrial estate — that has a lot of value.

Social authority is what big brands already have plenty of (they are well known), and is what local businesses are often struggling to get (they aren’t as well known), especially businesses that are off the beaten route.

The Main Point

If you’re skim reading, here’s the main point: the like button shows friends what you like. This gives that website more social authority, because if someone you know likes you, you will probably like it too.

Your Leading Thoughts

I still think that the like button is a pretty simple thing and that Facebook’s plugins aren’t feature strong — but there is certainly a lot of depth here, we just need to mine it. I value your feedback, so how about answering a question to draw the wisdom out of us?

  • As a consumer, do you like things on Facebook often, and do you now like things on the web too?
  • Would you ‘connect’ to a site like in the Levi’s video? If so, why?
  • Scaling this up — where do you see this going? (with the tools we already have)

Archived Comments

  • http://twitter.com/alexthegreen Alex Green

    This definitely makes a lot of sense, and here we see the danger as well as the benefits of friendship!
    In friendship, we drop our guard, we know that we are accepted by our friends, and we are therefore more open with them.
    Acceptance leads to influence.
    Knowing our friends accept us and vice versa leads to us being influenced by their thoughts and actions (and vice versa again).
    So immediately, when we see our friends like or have accessed / bought something, we are influenced to think that maybe that will be a good idea for us to do it too.
    Most of the time, this is harmless and possibly even beneficial. It definitely benefits the companies selling products and using social media as one of their marketing platforms, but it also has the potential to trip us up!

    1. A friend gets their social media account hacked / security compromised. – This could lead to us thinking they are liking or purchasing or navigating all sorts of things but really is is someone else who may be using the friend’s account to either push certain products / opinions or for other nefarious practices. (Maybe unlikely but certainly possible)

    2. A ‘friend’ (someone we know but is more acquaintance than true friend) likes / navigates some stuff that we are maybe only subconsciously influenced by which leads us down a path we were not originally intending or were previously trying to avoid. (Much more likely)

    Again, I think it boils down to understanding the chosen media (in whatever form it is), understanding the power the chosen media has, and therefore being able to harness it instead of it overpowering us and overwhelming us and shaping us without our knowledge!

    (edit:)
    Therefore, having these kind of discussions and getting it all out in the open is really valuable and important. Thanks Scott for sharing and starting the discussion.

  • sytaylor

    The big problem with like is that it is such a soft approval from me the consumer. It’s good that it’s everywhere, but it doesn’t tell you the business, or you to advertiser much about me. I often like things I’d never dream of buying, endorsing or care about. “Like” is the new “lol” response. It’s a stock response that doesn’t mean anything. What’s more within facebook, how do I see what my friends like? As best I can tell, I can’t.

    The idea rocks but the implementation has some way to go. Give me the data on my friends, that you’re also selling to advertisers (facebook), and then I have something useful from this ubiquity. Otherwise, I’m responding to everything on the internet with “lol”.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Alex

    Good points. Right now the gravity of the like button isn’t at this weight yet, but you know it’s only a matter of time before you see it happening as you’ve described.

    Keep following the discussion so that we can mull it over!

    Cheers,
    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    Sy

    Yes – it is a very soft approval, though the power of seeing a familiar name or face is not to be underestimated.

    I agree as well there is a lot more data here that can be useful – who knows where it’ll go.

    Finally, I’d like to lol your comment ;-)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Guys – saw this post today which said “Social Shopping”, so thought I’d add it to the comments: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007671

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