Get ready for another significant development in the world of ecommerce. In what may be an inevitable move across platforms and functions, a marriage between social media apps and online retailing is taking shape.
You’re already familiar with the dominant entity Amazon, a pioneer in harnessing the Internet’s reach and turning it into a multi-billion dollar business that involves re-selling, and only re-selling. Since its 1994 start as primarily a bookseller, it has reached the epicenter of mass global selling. It is the Walmart of ecommerce.
And now it sports a tentacle aimed at luring the busiest corner of the internet: social media.
In a stealth move this spring, the company launched a beta-tested version of “Amazon Influencer,” an unapologetic appeal to heavy-hitters and celebrities whose social media following is beyond imagination. Amazon did not invent the phenomenon; it’s been steadily growing among different players. But as with most everything Amazon touches, it could become the most prominent player.
Here’s how it works. A high-profile individual—say a pop culture or reality TV star, or a professional athlete with a strong engagement in social media—plugs a product or site with offerings one might find compatible with that person, thus generating a trusted endorsement. Often the plugger has her or his own brand and line, offering an even more direct personal touch. Having demonstrated popularity on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other apps, their broad visibility is considered a win-win.
Amazon has no control over the products each influencer chooses to promote. Obviously, some effort to monitor the fit between itself and the influencer includes potential separation in the event of a development or action that renders the influencer in a bad light.
Other than that, it’s a direct link facilitated by the influencer having a “vanity” URL and access to Amazon’s main page. They enjoy a worldwide brand storefront.
Awaiting and Anticipating
It goes without saying that the relationship between Amazon and its influencers is mutually beneficial. No matter how popular a celebrity, athlete, or business mogul may be, the potential for engaging in commercial transactions multiplies by a factor of thousands once a major national player like Amazon is involved. In fact, Amazon’s influencer program creates a unique branding opportunity for individuals who may not have mastered the art of transforming admiration and interest into bona fide sales.
Time will tell how this newfangled partnership plays out for both sides of the transaction. Some celebrities may choose to retain a more proprietary approach. Others will want to take a wait-and-see posture.
But it’s a sure bet that there are thousands of Kardashian-esque up-and-comers who will jump at the chance to promote themselves on a massive platform through promoting products they believe in. At that point, we will witness a truly intriguing merger of virtual sectors we would never in the past have imagined as partners.