AIMIA Social Commerce Event

This Friday I’m going to be presenting on the topic of Social Commerce at the AIMIA Social Commerce event. I’ll be talking on these topics:

Recent history would indicate that social and commerce do not mix. Until now monetizing the social graph has been somewhat of a guess. However;
  • What if you could monetize the social graph? 
  • What if the dynamics of the social graph could be extended to commerce? 
  • What if transactions could spread through the graph with the same viral speed of a tweet or re-tweet? 
  • What if commerce could be facilitated via twitter and Facebook?
  • What if you you could ’tweet to buy’ and your followers could re-tweet to buy? 
  • What if it took 3 seconds to pay and check out?
  • What if consumers could buy off of any medium including TV, Radio and Print, using Twitter?
  • What does this mean for brands, businesses & consumers?

I will be presenting on the future of commerce in a connected, social, and offline world, so please come along.

I’ll also provide examples of how BuyReply can facilitate these interactions which will be the first time that the general public will see our new platform.

I have 1 spare ticket (worth $105) that I’ve yet to give away and have reserved it for a reader of my blog, so if you’d like to take me up on this offer e-mail brad[at]lindventures.com with your name, company and position and I’ll have you added to the guest list. First come first serve!

The event is this Friday, 25th May at KPMG (10 Shelley Street Sydney) from 10:00am-12:00pm and you can register here:

http://www.aimia.com.au/home/events/aimia-events/the-virtual-storefront–evolving-social-commerce-platforms

Learning from Oink: Execution isn’t everything

Cross posted to Start-up Smart

Kevin Rose had everything going for him. A strong personal brand and network, $1.7 million in funding and a team of super smart people that could probably build any consumer web/mobile concept you threw at them – and build it well.

What they didn’t have was a great idea. They had a social concept without a monetisation strategy. That is a tough gig.

In the midst of all the consumer internet noise, founders are forgetting that business is still about turning a buck. From the outset you have to know how you are going to earn a dollar and that comes down to having a business model that can make money, no matter how good you are at executing on a technical challenge.

Social does not start out as a business model

The major social successes such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest never started out as business ideas. They were social experiments by and large. Through a combination of vision, timing and luck they attracted users and grew quickly. Then they raised money.

Facebook received its famous $500,000 round from Peter Thiel after Harvard and a number of east coast universities were already using the system. They had hundreds of thousands of users by then.

Oink set out to start a social network by raising funds upfront and hoping they would hit the sweet spot that would result in adoption. It should happen the other way around.

Fail Fast

Kevin pulled the pin three months after the app was launched. Failing fast is all about putting your ego aside and being real with yourself. You have to ask yourself the tough questions. Am I pushing shit uphill? Is this thing worthwhile pursuing over the long term? Am I too late? Can I compete with the established players? Will it make money given the resources I have?

Even better, ask those questions before you start. The answers are usually obvious. Don’t ignore them. Rather wait until you find something that ticks the right boxes; then go for it.

The lesson here is that execution is NOT everything. You still need a goodbusiness idea.

‘Investors Fallacy’ @ Twitter

I’m not sure if Twitter is cashflow neutral or not, however I assume they are not considering their only real revenue comes from promoted tweets…

I view Twitter long term as a necessary public service of the world, not specifically as a business. In a similar way to that we need certain utilities in our lives, whether it be phones for communication, electricity, gas, garbage collection etc… They are essential elements of everyones lives.

Television got around this by governments launching state owned, opinion neutral television stations. In Australia we have ABC. I’m not sure what the equivalent is in the US.

Being state owned has its own issues but life without twitter would be worse than life with twitter for many people, and therefore it should continue to operate regardless of its financial position.

Twitter has a serious utility value at a global level as proven through the STOP SOPA effort + Arab Spring, therefore there needs to be a realistic way to sustain its existence.

The problem is that its operating costs are so high (900 people). Reddit was able to be run by Conde Nast with 1 developer. Twitter is a simple service however it now has a huge valuation and therefore investors are expecting a huge return. Had the valuation stayed low and/or realistic then they would be an excellent takeover target for a company that can do what Conde Nast did with Reddit (obviously with a lot more people).

It’s almost as if Twitter is plagued with an “investors fallacy” which has caused it to meet expectations which are just simply not possible within the contraints of its simple, yet useful offering.

Social Recognition Vs Brand Recognition

I think there is a shift taking place in the way that people are being influenced to do things.

Before the social media revolution we would be guided by standard broadcast media. TV, Radio, Print, word of mouth, in an attempt for brands to build brand recognition.

However I am beginning to find that increasingly being lead by influential people in my social graph – e.g. Twitter, Blogs, Facebook. I get to follow people I respect via the social graph and blogosphere and I get to hear first hand what they are reading, writing, buying, how they are living and what they are doing on a daily basis in their lives. In 140 character bursts.

If you join the dots via someone’s public Internet profile (blog+twitter+website+flickr+more) you can make good sense of how a particular person thinks, how they spend their time, what they value, what interests them and what makes them tick.

When I see something cool on twitter or a blog written by someone I respect, I immediately value their motivation, opinion and taste and it removes the need for me to have to validate the subject myself.

If X likes Y and I like X chances are I’ll like Y too. I’ll often buy/try/do Y based on this alone.

Recommendations via your social graph are infinitely more powerful than any traditional media because they include an element of human thought and a removal of bias when someone makes an authentic recommendation, especially if you have consciously decided to follow them out of respect for their opinion in the first place. This concept coupled with the virility of the web is like word of mouth on steroids^9.

Services like twitter let you know what the cool kids are doing as soon as they do it. Stuff catches on and spreads really quickly.

Whether it’s a movie, a software download, a photograph of an experience or an article an influencer has read, or a movement to topple a government…

I find myself being influenced and inspired on a daily basis to read, buy, do and try stuff by people I’ve never met in person but feel I know well enough to respect via their online identity and brand. This is what brands attempt to achieve via celebrity endorsements however in the uber-connected world we now live in, I’m being influenced by the guy next door, not Lance Armstrong.

Is this happening to you?