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6 Social Networks Will Become Marketplaces

For the last few years I’ve been promoting the idea that social networks are like outposts, in many respects, best suited to point the way to your hub or main content site.

Product for sale on Shoply.com

While I still believe this to be a fundamentally sound way to view social media use, I see a future that contains a shift in this thinking as well.

As the level of social behavior continues to evolve and social networks grow more important in the lives of their users, they will become much more than outposts – they will move increasingly towards self-containment and wholly functioning marketplaces.

There is a growing mass that simply sees the Internet as Facebook and Facebook is really okay with that. Other marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, Buy.com and eBay are moving to socialize your product search and sort and become decision engines. These online destination are making moves to merge this behavior with pop up offline presence as well.

As mobile users depend upon apps like Siri (personal assistant on iPhone 4S) and Yelp and gain access to large amounts of research via QR readers, search engines will play a diminishing role in how buying decisions are made.

Buy.com just launched a feature that allows you to connect and shop collaboratively with friends making social shopping a real-time phenomenon. Paypal just released an app called Send Money that makes sending money to friends on Facebook a snap. As trust in doing business on these platforms merges with increasing levels of content and engagement, expect people to do more and more in these marketplaces.

What this behavior signals for small business marketers is the need to begin to view some outposts as destinations. In other words, it’s time to start looking at building a store on Facebook, Shoply, Amazon, Buy.com, Etsy and eBay.

I know many business sell in these places already, either as a primary distribution channel or as a supplement to their own online or offline store, but it may be wise for all businesses, regardless of what they sell, to set up shop in one or more of these destinations.

You may not see an immediate profit from your eCommerce enabled Facebook store, but it’s time to make that an option and start teaching those that interact with you there how and why they might also want to buy from you there.

The key, as it has been so clearly for the last few years, is to also up your engagement, education and participation in these markets rather than simply look at them as transaction enablers. These are growing major cities and you need to claim and grow your holdings there before it becomes overcrowded.

Facebook ecommerce solutions

Marketplaces

Seth Godin Pokes His Own Box

Marketing podcast with Seth Godin (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Poke the Box Seth GodinMy guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is best selling author, blogger, Squidoo creator Seth Godin. In this episode we discuss Seth’s new book – Poke the Box.

While the book comes in at only 80 pages, perhaps the biggest punch it packs is the one aimed at the traditional book publishing industry. Seth produced this book, not with his former publisher Portfolio, but with a start up project, jointly created with Amazon, called The Domino Project.

Few people in the business ranks have been as successful at launching a book as Seth and true to form, Godin is turning the book industry on its side with a $4.99 Kindle version, a 5 pack and 52 pack and a limited edition letterpress cover edition.

Many in the publishing industry are keeping a close eye on this project. While there’s little doubt in my mind that Godin is that concerned about the financial aspects of this endeavor, preferring instead to focus on poking his own box, it will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Godin was paid at the top of the category by his publisher and will need to sell far more copies of Poke the Box in this pricing model than the traditional royalty driven route. The big question for some in the publishing industry is what kind of distribution the big book chains will give to an Amazon produced book. The book also promises to sell far more digital copies than previous Godin books, a category that traditional credibility lists, such as the New York Times, have been slow to acknowledge.

As the book Poke the Box suggests, however, you don’t make your mark by following the status quo, you make your mark by creating the status quo. According to Godin he would rather make a ruckus than be a hypocrite and took this route to be an example of those that change, poke and lead.

We are living in an era where the news in the newspaper is old before it hits our driveway real time, public interaction with small groups of customer is now, not only possible, it’s essential – and perhaps this includes the packaging of ideas that have commerce.

Godin’s message in this book is that we need to think more like computer programmers, we need to test and improve, test and improve in real time where the cost of failure is nothing. We are not General Motors, we are an idea economy that rewards initiative over perfection.

Searching for the next big idea is a form of hiding – being wiling to ship something and not worry about failure is Poking the Box.

A distinction that Godin adds is that if you don’t finish, the starting doesn’t matter. Ideas are worth nothing, finishing is what’s valuable.

Godin is a master at creating compelling ideas out of very few words and this is a book that is both very important and very simple to consume.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

13 Duct Tape Marketing – Kindle edition

Duct Tape Marketing KindleI’ve been a huge fan of the Kindle since day one – it feeds my nature – reading 10 books at the same time – so imagine how happy I was when I finally got my publisher to move on getting Amazon what they need to make Duct Tape Marketing available in a Kindle edition.

You can grab it here

Now, if I could get them to agree to the audio and Spanish versions I would really be a happy camper!

4 Amazon Trots Out More eCommerce Tools

Amazon PaymentsAmazon.com recently jumped into the merchant service, transaction and ecommerce tools for small business, business under the banner of Amazon Payments.

The new services come in a variety of flavors and are aimed directly at the current undisputed leader – PayPal.com. Now PayPal is miles ahead but Amazon’s got some things no other merchant services offering does – Amazon has a trusted brand and it’s got product to put in the mix.

Any business that uses their services automatically can add, upsell and cross-sell the entire Amazon product mix from the same set of tools and I think that’s a big plus.

The offering starts with Simply Pay – the basic, put a link on your site and collect money through their system (any Amazon account holder won’t have to put account info in!)

Next up is Checkout – this is Amazon’s shopping cart offering with integrated payment and, again, the ability to add Amazon product with an Amazon Associates cut.

Don’t forget about Amazon Fulfillment too – Amazon will hang onto your product and fill and ship orders for you through the shopping cart and payment system essentially automating the entire sales fulfillment process.

Lastly we have Amazon’s developer offering called Flexible Payments – this is the tool developers can start using to make their processing scripts work with Amazon’s payment system. This is where I think they will see some great growth. Lots of 3-party software will be able to hook onto the system in pretty short order because Amazon does a better job with developers than PayPal has in the past.

6 Books as naked conversations

KindlePerhaps you’ve already heard about Amazon’s new ereader device called the Kindle

Given the amount of press, both good and bad, it has received, including about 3,000 words in Newsweek, I suspect maybe you’ve heard something about it.

On the surface it’s a way to store and read books, much like Sony’s Reader launched over a year ago. It uses a patented E-Ink technology that makes reading on the screen seem much like reading a book. Much of the talk about this product centers on the long running debate about whether people will ever give up books or magazines in favor of electronic devices.

I think that debate will rage for years, but the point that I haven’t hear enough discussion on is whether this type of device will actually impact the way books are created, much like blogs changed the way web sites were created.

The major difference between the Kindle and every other device that allows you to read books is that the Kindle is connected wirelessly to the web on a network that’s independent of hot spots.

Now, let’s say you overhear some folks discussing a book during your commute home. A few clicks later the book is on your Kindle, for around $10 bucks, and you’re reading as you’re riding the train. That should do well with our “instant gratification isn’t fast enough” culture.

Here’s where I think it gets interesting. For a small fee, a Kindle user can now go online and read daily newspapers, blogs and magazines. Much of this content is available already, some for free, but a Kindle user can take it all with them and read, much like the printed versions, asynchronously. (Yes, you can get the Duct Tape Marketing Blog Kindle edition)

But, here’s where I think it really get interesting. I believe we may see a shift in the way books are actually created, particularly non-fiction books. If I, as a marketing coach, wanted to add updates and lessons to a book about marketing, I could easily do this through an electronic device that’s always on. Authors could very easily enter into public conversations about their work and how to apply it much like we do now with our blogs and the readers of those blogs.

Think about the value that could be added to a book. In fact, if publishers don’t think about this as the next frontier of how books will stand out and be measured, look out. Eventually, right or wrong, everything ever written will be available like this, the secret will be finding ways to enhance the experience with interaction and with conversations that are open, transparent and relevant. (Sound familiar?)