Category Archives: Social Commerce

Cash mobs go beyond the ‘Like’ to make a difference to local businesses

It is all very well liking pages on Facebook, sharing images and links about something you care about, but how many times does your action have a positive effect?

Charity nominations and just giving pages sometimes get overlooked. The post or email gets read and left in your inbox for another free moment. Once we have liked the page, we move on to the next article.

Struggling shops get our sympathy. Huge multinationals moving into our local area get our ire and anger at the destruction of the local economy.  We retweet things on Twitter and share articles on Facebook. But what do you actually do about it?

Cash mobs actually go beyond the passive idea of the Facebook Like. Cash mobs use actual hard cash, spent in a local shop.

So how does it work?

It is all done through the local community grouping together and using their combined networks to spread the word about the local shop that needs support. It is a little bit like crowdfunding only this generates real cash for bricks and mortar businesses in the local community.

The community gets together and decides to spend £10 ($20) or less in a local shop on a designated day. The local shop gets business that would have otherwise gone to a multinational chain of shops and the local community is energised.

Photo: Cash mob tomorrow! Hope to see you all out at Cederberg Tea House and Four Winds.News of the designated shop gets posted on social media. The information is broadcast amongst the community in the local parish magazine, village flyer and local social media. On the specific day, members of the community visit the store and buy something.

Cash mob, Bremerton in Washington state, US has a Facebook page and advertises when and where the next cash mob will be. Cash mob at Queen Anne Heart advertises its cash mob target in chalk on the pavement.

Chagrin Hardware in Ohio had so many customers when it was mobbed in 2012, the credit card machine had to be reset. The community flocked to Petosa’s Family Grocer in Edmonds, Washington after flood damage.

It is a simple concept. Shop local, buy from local shops to keep the local economy alive. And the initiative has support from large multinational companies too.

Throughout July, American Express is encouraging everyone to support local shops. It is running an initiative for July in encouraging you to ‘shop small’. Register your Amex card, and spend £10 or more at a local shop. Amex will give you £5 credit per location for up to ten different shops cafes and restaurants. That’s £50 in credits just for shopping locally.

So why don’t you register, organise a Cash Mob in your area and help local businesses survive. After all, the independent shops, cafes and bars are the reason that you love living where you are.

So put some of your money into local businesses, and keep your local community alive.

Image Credit: Queen Anne Heart / Facebook

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.


7 questions to ask your social media expert before you hire


There are a lot of social media ‘experts’ out there. almost everywhere you turn, there are people that tout themselves as experts in social media, and who are ready to help you get online, enhance your presence, configure your profile.  you name it, an ‘expert’ is ready to help you with your online challenges. 

They baffle you with acronyms, have the latest devices, hardware and terminology.  They live on LinkedIn, talk on Twitter and frequent Facebook far more than you think you will ever be.

So what questions do you ask them before you hire them so you can spot the social media snake oil salesman.

Here are some strategic questions to ask.

  • What influencer programs have you had success with?  Influencers are the core of a successful business relationship with the community.  There are several ways of discovering, organising and managing influencers.  Good social media companies should be able to highlight several success stories for managing influencers.
  • What are our objectives?  A consultant should have spent time listening to you and should understand your business goals and objectives. Unless the social media company understands your business, it will not be able to work well with you.
  • How will you measure ROI?  Success is tied to sales for companies.  I know social media is all about engagement and relationships but spending hard earned money needs to provide a positive return.  Scorecards measure sales.  The other stuff is just a ‘nice to have’
  • Who will be doing the work? Will it be a junior member of staff, social media savvy but not business savvy? Will it be someone with good business knowledge who can deal appropriately with any crisis that might happen?  Choosing the wrong member of the team to deliver the outbound communications can rebound badly.
  • What components should be need in our social media strategy?  The key thing here is to focus on frameworks instead of tools. Beware of someone who talks about Twitter or Facebook all the time.  Often your strategy will be multi layered, multi-channel, with several approaches
  • How will you measure our performance? Good social media companies will use a selection of reporting tools and add a manual component into each of their analysis reports. Often the hunch gives extra measurement insight to a bland set of reports
  • How do you  manage content?  Successful companies will tie content into a specific content calendar to align with your product development cycle, marketing or business plans. It always needs to be organised and structured and in line with the organisational needs and strategy. Ensure that the marketing communications plan is also included in the content strategy.

Credit: wildxplorer

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Flip your clothes using social marketplace Threadflip

I like the concept of Threadflip.  It is a social marketplace where you can sell your old clothes and accessories, and browse for fashion that suits your style.

Threadflip is:

‘is an exclusive and unique social marketplace designed to let you refresh your closet in a few easy steps. Sell the items you no longer wear, or share your own designs. Use your credit to shop the closets of your favorite designers, collectors, bloggers and friends or just cash out! Here’s a glimpse of what other fashionistas are flipping on Threadflip’


As a start up, Threadflip relies on investors, and has just secured a $1.3 million round of investment. It competes with other social shopping sites such as Poshmark, and eBay.

It is currently available to buyers and sellers in the US only, but has plans to increase its reach worldwide.

Users can sign in with Facebook, upload images of items that they would like to sell.  If the item is sold, the seller then ships the goods to buyers.Threadflip takes 15 per cent from the sale of each item.  if you have not time to do the selling yourself, Threadflip offers a white glove service.  They take care of the sale for you, and send you the cash from the sale.

You can state your fashion preferences and shoe size to ensure that all of the images you see are of items that you would like to buy.  You don’t need to search for the items, the items find you.The feed, which looks a lot like the Pinterest feed, shows who has liked the items, and comments for each item, and you have the opportunity to follow people who love, comment or purchase goods. ught,

One of the great advantages of social marketplaces is that buyers can share information about items that they intend to purchase, or have already bought.  The concept is like a collaborative swap meet, you sell and buy from people with same style as you.  Its a good idea – especially for female netizens who like to shop and share online.

Hopefully international commerce will be opened soon – I have my eyes on several items already Smile


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Augmented reality mirror could enhance your social shopping

Microsoft Research has released a video with what it calls the ‘Holoflector’.  This mirror allows you to interact with virtual objects using the Kinect interface.

Imagine the opportunities for social shopping.  Through a social tool such as Xbox Kinect, you could connect with your favourite store online, try on clothes, wander around furniture in your newly developed lounge, or interact with online objects in a whole new way.

The e-commerce experience will become much more immersive than previous augmented reality experiments.  Now, you can interact with the brand at home, just as Blippar lets you get extra information from TV adverts, then this app, when fully developed and commercially available will let you do all this from the comfort of your own home.

Other innovations from Microsoft research are in use in our daily lives now.  The ability to rotate our phone to portrait and landscape mode, touch screens to interact with devices, Screens that recognise objects placed on them (Microsoft Surface.

Now kinect has changed the way that you control game play.  And it will soon change the way we do our social shopping online

Mirror, mirror on the wall, I want to try clothes on from the mall

Now anything is possible…


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Quirky: Using influence to create new products

I like the idea of using your influence to contribute to and create new ideas and products.  New York based start-up Quirky allows you to submit an idea, have it reviewed and evaluated by the community, and based on their feedback, either refine and redesign the product, or take it forward into production.

The web site also encourages social sales in addition to direct sales.  Users are more likely to purchase a product where they’ve influenced product design or manufacture either directly or indirectly.


There are some great ideas on the site already too – like this cord grabber to stop your cables falling off the desk.  There are related products to buy too.

Will this new way of product design evolve using social collaboration?  Internally, it would certainly get round the interminable product review meetings that companies have.  Meetings where half the team are pushing for their component to be included in the mix and the other half processing their email and not contributing to the meeting.

Perhaps your design could fall victim to the Wikipedia model, where any changes are instantly reverted by the page owner and new ideas are drowned in a sea of conformity.

Or are we poised to change the whole way that products are created – and allow innovation to lead the way?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

eBay: We have a Hunch what you will want to buy…


As we try to get a more personalised online shopping experience and social commerce tries to attract more social customers, we try to work out what our customers are going to want next.  And big brands are keen to understand what their customers want So the news that eBay has acquired Hunch tells me that eBay are right on the money with their acquisition.

Hunch is a site that makes decisions based on your interests, likes and dislikes.   Its a bit like the yellow pages but you can see recommendations from your friends and connections.  It builds something it calls a ‘taste graph’ based on your responses.  You can agree or disagree with the results of the graph.  You can recommend products, search for products and see how closely they match your preferences.

Hunch can also mine your actions on social networking sites outside of eBay and use these results to give eBay users a more specialised set of insights and recommendations, hopefully leading to further sales.

Recommendation engines are key to social commerce sites that want to understand their customers buying patterns, and also track their intention or desire to buy.  Tracking customer behaviour will enable eBay to suggest products that fall into the customers ‘desire to buy’ zone making them more likely to complete the purchase… 

Amazon have a simplified recommendation engine for their offerings based on other customers purchases.  If you’ve bought a particular book, then other customers who have also bought that book, have also purchased this one.  Peer recommendations clinch sales so recommendation engines are important to ensure longevity, sales and customer loyalty.

Better recommendation engines will drive commerce sites to build better customer engagement and more targeted web offerings – ultimately leading to more sales for the brand.  

This acquisition is a really good purchasing decision for eBay and we’ll benefit from it as the recommendation engine is refined and implemented… 

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

John Lewis Christmas advert tugs at heartstrings and connects with customers

Some adverts really resonate with their audience, some adverts slip by un notices.  once in a while an advert appears to get people talking about it and this advert has certainly done that.  This years John Lewis advert differs from the bright jingly, synthetic jovial Christmas adverts and tugs at our emotions.  have a look:

7 year old Lewis McGowan in his first acting part steals the show with his facial expressions and anticipation of the arrival of Christmas morning.  He makes you smile wistfully, and wish that your own kids behave like that on Christmas morning.  The production, it’s more than just an advert cost the company £6 million to create – but according to John Lewis, they get back in sales £4 for every £1 spent.  That’s a great return on investment for a combined channel media campaign (it was released on YouTube before it was aired on TV and quickly became a trending topic on Twitter). 

But the real measure of it’s success must be the spoof videos and imitations that have sprung up since the video was released, one with music from the Shining, another from the film Seven.  Spawning imitations this quickly after the authentic video brings more and more views of the real advert as people search for the source and share it.

Of course some people hate it.  After all, it’s just a way to get you to purchase things online, or from in the store.  But for every detractor, there are fans who love it and want to share it with their network.  This is where social sharing has a large part to play too.  The YouTube statistics are impressive enough with massive amounts of referrals from both Twitter and Facebook kick starting the campaign ..


Friends have shared this over 202,637 times by the end of last week according to Campaign which demonstrates how effective good virals can be.

And if this years advert turns out to be as successful as previous returns on advertising revenue, then John Lewis will be smiling all the way to the bank…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.