HMV should be investing all it has in a strategy that actually saves its businesses, rather than arsing around on social networks

People say you should write what you know, and as I’m a columnist, it has been suggested I write about what annoys me. Many things in my life have pissed me off this week, but in terms of digital stuff I’m pretty easy going. That was until I heard that HMV had opened a Facebook shop.

Like most people my age, I used to think HMV was the pinnacle of cool. When I was 16 I desperately wanted to have a job behind the counter, because if you got to work in HMV it was affirmation that you’d made it, in a Kevin Smith Clerks kind of way. Ridiculous in retrospect, but if you compare then to now, it’s a sign of how bad things have got for the retailer.

Of course, I don’t know what HMV’s strategy for survival is, or why it has decided to create a Facebook shop (and if you work for HMV, then I apologise in advance for the rest of this column). But like a scornful ex-girlfriend who’s fallen badly out of like with a former love, I think it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.

Facebook shops are a flash-in-the-pan trend that won’t increase revenues for retailers. They’re a social commerce quick-win that’s as effective as any other pared-down, shitty version of an etail site. There, I said it. Bring on the social media gurus arguing how wrong I am.

If you know anything about how communities of people behave online, you’ll know that plopping a mini version of a shop down in the middle of a community and expecting people to use it won’t work. And if you think you’re being clever about it, justifying it because one of your biggest referrers of customers is Facebook, it still doesn’t mean putting a shop on your official page is a good idea, even with the reasoning that it’ll save your customers time and clicks to purchase.

Realistically, you’ll probably find most of those Facebook referrals come from conversations behind your customer’s private walls rather than from your official page, and that your customers couldn’t give a toss about what you put on Facebook. And that includes a clunky, bad version of your etail site.

What retailers should do is concentrate on creating richer sites and easy-to-use mobile sites. And they should be investing in clever ways for customers to create conversations about their products. Social commerce – real social commerce – is about providing the opportunity for social interactions in what could be seen as a lonely shopping experience. It’s about ratings and reviews, recommendations and referrals, and peer support to give a customer a more informed shopping experience that will ultimately increase conversion rates.

HMV Group has just issued its third profits warning. While I’m not particularly bright when it comes to business, even I know it should be investing all it has in a strategy that actually saves its businesses, rather than arsing around on social networks.


Published 28 April, 2011 by NMA Staff

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