While the long-term implications of Facebook’s new platform features – Social plugins and their underpinnings, the Open Graph protocol and Graph API – are up for debate, I have a few thoughts to share from the Bazaarvoice perspective. Over the last week, since f8, we have received questions from current and prospective customers about what these developments mean for their business, social strategy, and relationship with Bazaarvoice.
First, we believe that the boldness of Facebook’s vision is a net positive for our industry. The ease of integration and use of
Social plugins will reduce the barriers – technical, usability, psychological, etc. – for social interactions across the Web. Clicking the Like Button for a product on a retailer’s website, like Levis.com, can trigger a series of increasingly valuable social interactions that escalate that consumer’s loyalty to the brand and acquire new shoppers along the way. Our whitepaper on Participation Chains describes this process of value creation through linked social interactions.
The coming ubiquity of the Like Button and other distributed social interactions – enabled by Facebook, Bazaarvoice, and others – is a good thing for brands and consumers because these interactions build relationships that are mutually desired and transparent, a relatively new concept in marketing and advertising! Facebook has enabled these relationships to be created at a scale that will absolutely revolutionize the way companies manage their brands, marketing strategy, and customer relationships. The wake of opportunity created by Facebook’s actions is massive and will fuel even greater marketing and technology innovation in the months ahead.
Second, we believe that Facebook’s strategy is complementary to our own. The forms of user-generated content captured by the Bazaarvoice platform –
Ratings & Reviews, Ask & Answer, Stories, and more – help consumers at and leading up to the point of purchase. In concert with the Bazaarvoice platform, a retailer can use Social plugins to acquire new shoppers and help consumers discover products and services of interest, engaging shoppers early in the purchase process. For example, seeing on Facebook that a friend liked a new model digital camera influences you to click through to the camera retailer’s website, where you read customer reviews of the product as well as recently answered shopper questions on the camera’s features and technical specs. Based on these social influences, you buy the product and two weeks later write a product review (powered by Bazaarvoice!) on the retailer’s website. In the process, you elect to publish your review to Facebook for other friends to see. This cycle can continue perpetually, with exponentially increasing value.
Through our work with
TurboTax on their “Friendcasting” campaign (which involved integration with Facebook Connect), we have a ground-breaking example of how the social graph can be used to surface the most relevant and trustworthy advice for a key purchase decision. In this scenario, you determine that TurboTax Premier is the best edition of the popular tax preparation software for your financial situation, especially after reading positive reviews from Steve, your neighbor and Facebook friend who happens to be a CPA. This is a reality today, along with Bazaarvoice platform features like ShoutIt! and TweetConnect. In addition, we are powering complete social commerce experiences within Facebook. Check out our deployment of Ratings & Reviews within Facebook for Benefit Cosmetics. With Facebook’s Graph API and Open Graph protocol, we are now able to envision and develop even more innovative uses of the social graph to enhance every stage of the purchase process. In fact, we have a dedicated team, Bazaarvoice Labs, devoted to rapid prototyping and collaborative development of new ideas like these.
Bazaarvoice platform provides a foundation for our customers to experiment with and optimize their use of Facebook’s new features and whatever may come next. Facebook tipped the first domino (or rather, kicked it), but there are many others yet to fall. Our fully-hosted technology allows us to rapidly deploy new features and third-party plugins such as the Like Button across our entire network of customer websites. Through that network, we have served over 110 billion impressions of user-generated content, playing a leading role in the socialization of the web. The strategic value of this for our clients isn’t simply the business impact or innovation that we deliver – it is our ability to “future proof” their websites and online business strategies. The form and function of Facebook’s platform features are sure to evolve. Google Social Search is in its infancy but will evolve as well. Something completely unexpected will come out of left field. The flexibility and openness of the Bazaarvoice platform will enable our customers to take full advantage of these developments, while leveraging the influence and voices of their most loyal and engaged customers.
Over the last 10 days, we have experienced a truly revolutionary change in the way the web works. However, as we approach the tipping point of the web becoming pervasively social, there will be hiccups. Privacy and security are paramount concerns, and Facebook’s actions have attracted
government interest in short order. Brands that abuse these new capabilities will pay for it in lost consumer trust and reputation. As you contemplate the impact of Facebook’s new features on your social strategy, remember to take full advantage of your partnership with Bazaarvoice. We want to share our insights and lessons learned from serving the world’s leading brands and influencing millions of purchase decisions each day. We welcome your input on our strategy and want to collaborate openly with you on yours. On the social web, there’s no such thing as going it alone! Notice the new Like Button below? Try it out and let us know what you think!