Integrating Social Networking Into Your Purchase Path

Today we’ll look at two companies that have integrated social networking into their buying process. Previously we looked at how Booking.com increases the sense of urgency by saying things like “3 people are looking at this hotel.” This technique uses the company’s own statistics to great effect. But today’s companies bring things a little closer to home via their Facebook integration.

Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster recently changed how its seating charts work. While the user experience is now a little confusing, there is at least one feature I find very interesting. In addition to showing you the seating plan of the venue in question, it now highlights seats that have been purchased by your Facebook connections. What are the odds that your friends are seeing the same show you are going to see? It depends, I suppose. In my case I am usually buying Broadway tickets and most of my friends are theater people. There tends to always be someone at a Broadway show that I recognize in the audience, and it is a very interesting idea to me that this can now be formalized. Certainly, there have been many times when I tell a friend, “We are going to see X tonight, you should get a ticket and come.” Now that friend can try and get tickets near me. Looking at it the other way, I could imagine looking up who is going to the event and seeing if they are friends of friends and then arranging to meet up with them.

This idea is more interesting on a site like Ticketmaster.com because events are social events by definition. This idea isn’t interesting to the same degree as seeing which of your friends also bought the same shirt, for instance. But because events are all about going with people, this makes tons of sense. I am curious to know if Ticketmaster tracks any statistics about this feature, and what it is learning from it.

Airbnb.com

Airbnb is a site that allows you to post your house/apartment for short-term rentals. We’ve used it to sublet our apartment, and to actively look to see what’s listed when we travel. The company has recently added a new feature that tells you (when you log in via Facebook) if the owner of the property is a friend of your friends. More specifically, a notice that says “Your friend X knows the owner of this property.” I believe it also tells you if your friends have ever rented the place you are viewing. Again, this makes a lot of sense because a good recommendation from your friend is worth a lot more than a “random” (and possibly fake) recommendation from someone you don’t know.

The concept of recommendations from friends is certainly not a new one, but it is great to see it catching because of the open APIs that social networks are now providing. Certainly, it would make it easier to choose a camera if you could ask a friend of yours who bought the same camera what she thinks about it. This kind of functionality lets you know that your friend bought the camera (assuming you don’t poll all of your friends yourself when you are buying things).

Are you planning on integrating this level of social networking within your sites? Are you integrating social networking in a unique way we haven’t seen before? Leave a note and URL below if you think your integration is a good case study!

Until next time,
Jack

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