Photo Credit: Social Media HQ
All the biggest social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest – have experimented with social commerce (i.e. selling products via social media), but largely with mixed results. Now Amazon.com has launched a brand new social network called Spark, and it could change the field of social commerce forever.
Spark = Instagram + Pinterest
The first thing you’ll notice about Spark is that it looks exactly like Instagram. And some of the language used by critics to describe Spark – “a product discovery social network” – sounds a lot like how Pinterest gets described these days. It’s almost as if the mobile app designers at Amazon had Instagram and Pinterest in mind when they designed Spark.
Yes, Spark is basically a “shoppable feed” of beautiful images. That’s because each image has one or more items that can be purchased on – you guessed it – Amazon.com. Not sure what to buy someone on their birthday? Just check out Spark for inspiration (it might just “spark” a purchase…)
A seamless shopping experience
The main reason why Amazon may succeed where others have failed is that the experience is so seamless. There are no complex steps involved in moving between social media and e-commerce. It’s very easy to go from looking at some beautiful items in your Spark feed to hitting the “buy” button and having those items delivered right to your home.
Right now, the focus seems to be on fashion, apparel, jewelry and beauty. You can see where the use case scenario is: you’re checking out a photo of a really attractive model wearing a great summer outfit, and you think to yourself: “I might look good in that.” And right there within the Amazon app, you’d be able to click on the item and order it. Every item that’s clickable within a Spark image is linked to an Amazon item, so there’s no need to ever leave the Amazon app.
A social network for people who follow brands
Amazon is using the tagline “Discover things you’ll love from people who share your interests” to promote the service. Right now, anyone with an Amazon account and the Amazon app installed on their phone can experience Spark.
But only if you’re an Amazon Prime member can you actually post content. Thus, the question really becomes: Will people actually spend time hanging out on Spark and posting their photos there, knowing full well that Amazon is making money off them? Ok, maybe that’s a bit cynical, but Amazon hasn’t detailed any kind of affiliate marketing program for Spark (maybe it’s coming later?), so why would you possibly go to all the effort of posting a photo and making it shoppable if you’re not making money off it?
In one of the review articles for Spark, it appears that Kate Spade New York is one of the early users of this social network, so maybe fashion brands looking to ramp up their sales on Amazon might be the early adopters. And surely, as word of mouth spreads about Spark, other indie designers and beauty brands will follow suit. Really, this is a slam dunk. There might not be any easier way to monetize your social media presence than Amazon Spark.
Can Amazon really take on Facebook?
Right now, Amazon.com is headed in some very interesting directions. The company has been spending millions of dollars on developing its streaming video business, including many Amazon original shows and films, as well as live streams of NFL football games starting in fall 2017. And the company just gobbled up Whole Foods Market, ensuring that the future of supermarkets will involve Amazon somehow. So maybe it’s only natural that Amazon.com now feels big enough and confident enough to take on the world’s social media giants as well.