Steve Rubel

Social Commerce: Steve Rubel’s Original 2005 Article

Technology blogger Steve Rubel helped put social commerce on the map at the end of 2005 with a post on his popular micro persuasion blog in which he highlighted social commerce as a trend to watch in 2006.

Now that Steve has migrated away from his micro persuasion blog to Posterous, we’ve archived the original post here in case it disappears.

2006 Trends to Watch Part II: Social Commerce

Steve Rubel
Chief Content Strategist, Edelman

Lots of folks like to talk about how advertising – particularly from Adsense and BlogAds – will be the primary DIY media revenue driver in a Long Tail world. Certainly, this prophecy rings true for some. However, for most bloggers and podcasters, it won’t. The reason is the advertising industry is still largely dominated by Short Tail thinking. Their yardstick is eyeballs. So I don’t see ads generating more than pocket change for the majority of citizen’s media projects, at least right now (more to come on this topic in a future trend).

Social commerce, however, is an area that I think holds a tremendous amount of promise as a way for bloggers to make money. It’s a win-win for the bloggers, product marketers, and existing e-commerce sites.

Social commerce can take several forms, but in sum, it means creating places where people can collaborate online, get advice from trusted individuals, find goods and services and then purchase them. It shrinks the research and purchasing cycle by creating a single destination powered by the power of many.

One shining example of social commerce is Yahoo!’s Shoposphere. As David Beach from Yahoo describes it, the Shoposphere is a place to discover interesting and cool products thematically arranged into Pick Lists by other shoppers. However, this is just the beginning. Social commerce is not limited to the Web giants. It’s open to all of us.

An even stronger example of how social commerce will evolve at the citizen level is the Treonauts blog. Treonauts provides rich tips, tricks, advice, and news about the Treo smartphone. It is written and managed by Andrew Carton. According to Naked Conversations, Treonauts partnered with leading merchants to develop branded stores – one for software and another for phones and accessories. The commerce partner maintains and fulfills all orders. All Andrew needs to do is a blog. As of earlier this year, Treonauts was generating $8,000 per month in revenues. My educated guess is that a lot of this comes from commerce rather than advertising.

So where will this go in 2006? I think far.

Watch for sites like Amazon, Froogle, and Yahoo to develop turnkey stores that can be integrated into blogs. This will take affiliate programs to the next level. It’s also possible that some electronic commerce sites will partner with the major blogging platforms to make co-branded social commerce even easier. Let’s not forget that startups are hard at work here too, as David Beisel notes. Finally, we may see bloggers who have built a following in certain subject matters, like Thomas Hawk who writes about photography, to go the Treonauts route as they become disenfranchised with e-commerce sites.