LinkedIn should know better

5 Jun

This morning, LinkedIn trumpeted ‘The Rise of Social Commerce – how tweets, pins and likes can turn into sales’.

Surely this is a Holy Grail of sorts, or at the very least, some kind of wonderful alchemy. I like LinkedIn and so I read on, prepared to be knocked down by examples of commercial success fuelled entirely by Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Inevitably, none came and the feature’s writer, Josh Luger simply trots out some meaningless stats. In fact the piece itself is an advert, wanting me to sign up to a service offered by an outfit called BI Intelligence who will furnish me with all the proof I need that social media can boost my sales. However, for those who are just curious, we are given a brief overview of the wonders of social selling.

We are told that Facebook and Pinterest contribute to 56% of all socially generated sales. I’m not sure how a socially generated sale is measured – is it when I see a friend on FB wearing a jumper, I ask them where they got it then go and buy one myself? And what does this 56% mean? Recently, a mobile marketing outfit boasted that mobile advertising’s success rate had leapt by 38% in a year. I think it had gone from something like 0.0o2 to 0.003 of all sales. A huge hike.

Sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Wanelo, we are told, are becoming repositories for shopping ideas, fashion tips and wish lists. The piece likens them to an online catalogue and quotes a recent survey by Zmags (a mobile catalog company) that 63% of online shoppers say they plan to use online catalogs. 35% said they plan to use Pinterest to make purchases. Who are these people? Why don’t I know any of them? Why aren’t I queuing up to use Pinterest as a purchasing tool? More importantly, why do I only know about three people in my social network who actually use Pinterest? Why are only a third of my close friends and family actively using Facebook, with the number far lower for Twitter?
The piece claims that the biggest obstacle to social selling is ease of use. They are not seeing the elephant in the room – the fact that no one comes to the web to be sold to. Web use is dynamic – most often we go for information. We are not passive like a TV viewer or a radio listener. We are on a mission and anything that interrupts us annoys us. I try and think of the last time a friend recommended that I try a brand.  Beyond FB friends hitting a ‘like’ button to win a free car, phone, holiday etc, it doesn’t take long to come up with the answer ‘never’. I wonder how the writer of this article has such a different network of friends, or if, like everyone else who pushes the miracle of social media, he just has a warehouse full of snake oil he needs to get rid of.

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