Publishers Lead Ecommerce Merchants In Social Media
Time are tough in the publishing world. The print space is withering, the online space is over-saturated, fiercely competitive and even retailers are trying to muscle in on it.
But it seems that adversity breeds ingenuity. As eMarketer reports, a recent study by Gigya (a provider of social sign-on applications) has revealed that publishers not only surpass eCommerce merchants in social media integration (such as Facebook Connect), but are poised to maintain that lead for the foreseeable future.
The Gigya survey found that while 31 percent of publishers have already implemented social sign-in, only 18 percent of merchants have done so. More importantly, by the end of 2011, publishers will lead merchants 59 percent to 36 percent.
Social sign-in is probably the most valuable aspect of social media for because it increases conversions by allowing users to register/log-in using their pre-existing social media credentials, and in turn gives publishers/retailers access to rich user-data. That data can then be used to guide content strategy, personalize user-experience, and cross-sell/upsell through product recommendations.
So the question remains: If social sign-in offers so much, why is the sales-focused retail sector lagging behind the traffic-focused publishing sector in its integration?
Getting Social with Sign-Ins
There are probably four core reasons that retailers trail publishers in their use of social media. They range from timing to ecosystem, and each of them betrays just how uncharted the social media frontier is.
First, and most obvious has to do with urgency. Simply put, the publishing industry has been hurting for new ways of doing business. Social sign-in offers it the data it needs to improve editorial, better target advertising, and diversifying their overall revenue model. Online retail on the other hand, has been stable and growing, leaving less of an incentive to adopt new technology or methods.
Second, content is more intuitively akin with social networking than shopping. For starters, we interact on social network through content generation (e.g. UGC). But more importantly, we share content (pics, videos, article, etc.) a lot more than we do products — so there’s a more immediate incentive for publishers to embrace social media than there is for retailers.
Third, the overall social space isn’t as conducive to sales. Unlike search users, social users log-on to socialize — not buy. So even if retailers have have access to their users’ social graphs, they’re left asking themselves how to leverage it.
Finally, social shopping tools are still very much in their early stages, so even if a retailer knows how to leverage social graphs, there remains a huge divide between theory and practice. They might know they need a lever that is x-long, but they don’t know where to find one.
For instance, the social tools that are currently available (e.g. Retweet, Likes, etc.) are more suited for driving traffic than for driving sales. While eyeballs often constitute a conversion for publishers, they are only the first of several steps for retailers. Just because someone “shared” and viewed a product, there’s no guarantee that they’ll buy it. In fact, they may be viewing it for all the wrong reasons.
Social Shopping from the Cradle
Overall, social shopping is still something that is very much in its nascent stages. For starters, it’s in no rush to grow up. But more importantly, it still has to hit a couple growth spurts before it does.
Social content, on the other hand, is rather mature. Online content was nearly fully mature the moment someone placed an ad alongside an HTML page. And as for social content, one could argue that content was the first thing to go social — it was only the business model of old school publishers that had to adapt.
What’s worth noting about this survey is that it only goes two years into the future. And I’m willing to bet that by 2013, either everything online is social, or the web has taken a new turn in a completely new direction where what we conceive of as “social” today is seen as very passÃ©.
About CT Moore
A former Staff Editor here at Revenews.com, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over 8 years experience leveraging search and social media to help brands meet their business goals online. By day, he runs Socialed, a digital consultancy that provides strategy to both SMBs and enterprise level companies in the tech, entertainment and travel industries. He also heads up Search and Social at Publikit, a boutiqe web dev agency. CT has worked with both start-ups and multinational brands alike, including Acquisio, Microsoft Canada, and Luxury Retreats. CT is also an accomplished blogger, podcaster, and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can effectively leverage different online channels. You can read his personal blog here.