Social Networks Will Become Marketplaces

For the last few years I’ve been promoting the idea that social networks are like outposts, in many respects, best suited to point the way to your hub or main content site.

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While I still believe this to be a fundamentally sound way to view social media use, I see a future that contains a shift in this thinking as well.

As the level of social behavior continues to evolve and social networks grow more important in the lives of their users, they will become much more than outposts – they will move increasingly towards self-containment and wholly functioning marketplaces.

There is a growing mass that simply sees the Internet as Facebook and Facebook is really okay with that. Other marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay are moving to socialize your product search and sort and become decision engines. These online destination are making moves to merge this behavior with pop up offline presence as well.

As mobile users depend upon apps like Siri (personal assistant on iPhone 4S) and Yelp and gain access to large amounts of research via QR readers, search engines will play a diminishing role in how buying decisions are made. just launched a feature that allows you to connect and shop collaboratively with friends making social shopping a real-time phenomenon. Paypal just released an app called Send Money that makes sending money to friends on Facebook a snap. As trust in doing business on these platforms merges with increasing levels of content and engagement, expect people to do more and more in these marketplaces.

What this behavior signals for small business marketers is the need to begin to view some outposts as destinations. In other words, it’s time to start looking at building a store on Facebook, Shoply, Amazon,, Etsy and eBay.

I know many business sell in these places already, either as a primary distribution channel or as a supplement to their own online or offline store, but it may be wise for all businesses, regardless of what they sell, to set up shop in one or more of these destinations.

You may not see an immediate profit from your eCommerce enabled Facebook store, but it’s time to make that an option and start teaching those that interact with you there how and why they might also want to buy from you there.

The key, as it has been so clearly for the last few years, is to also up your engagement, education and participation in these markets rather than simply look at them as transaction enablers. These are growing major cities and you need to claim and grow your holdings there before it becomes overcrowded.

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  • masculum

    Great post…it’s going to be a big business. We’re helping publishers tap into this very market at 

  • Shery

    I couldn’t agree more, the Social Media platforms are really moving fast in accommodating the market, it’s no surprise when the time comes that everything is connected in the marketplace.

  • Goa Carnival

    I heard about this new feature introduced in Facebook by Paypal, that’s certainly going to have big effects on sales and money transfer through FB accounts.

  • Kim Deppe

    I believe you should add Google+ to your list. They are aggressively moving toward a single-destination model that wraps social/commerce/learning/search/communications into a single resource.

  • Henry Louis

    Yes, Exactly. Now–a-days social networking plays very important role in marketing. Social networking is mainly helpful in improving the communication between different people so that there would be a chance of getting improvement in the business and marketing also.

  • Keith West

    I’m not saying that this won’t happen, but I am saying I don’t want it to. It doesn’t really create any extra value for the merchant to have yet another store to maintain/monitor when all the functionality exists on your website a click away. You actually loose something because the customer and their information belongs less to you and more to network.

    This is a recurring story in internet annals as gateways work to aggregate more content and fuctionalities in an effort to hang onto visitors longer. It hasn’t worked in the past. Remember the old online services such as AOL, Prodigy, and Compuserve? Followed by portals such as Yahoo, Excite and Looksmart?

    At the moment you have to be on social networks. But it’s not a total positive. You are at the mercy of someone else’s whims and everything you do can be wiped out in a second. The sooner you can move your audience into your realm, the better off you will be.