Social commerce: What we can learn from Kobo, aNobii and Foursquare


The goal of aNobii, CEO Matteo Berlucchi told PaidContent last fall, is “… to create a social commerce platform that will allow people to find, share and buy books beyond the bestseller lists with an emphasis on creating an environment where people can talk about the books they love.”

Brilliant. Social commerce is the new e-commerce. For enthusiasts of any type of content (books, music, magazines, news), it’s not enough to be able to transact. They want to belong. They want to feel part of a community of like-minded people.  And that’s what aNobii (means "bookworm" in Latin) is striving for.  I quickly got myself an aNobii profile and now have the ability to rate, review and join book discussions. Check it out here.

While aNobii is still building out their platform, in my mind, Kobo provides the gold standard for what social e-reading is all about. Kobo’s Reading Life has given them the edge over Amazon Kindle and Nook  by Barnes & Noble and is now my go-to app for e-reading on my iPad.

As I read, I earn rewards in the form of badges, similar to what you see from FourSquare.

All my reading activity is tracked and presented to me in a gorgeous infographic.

And of course, I can connect with my friends via Facebook Connect and share all my activity straight to my Facebook profile.

Kobo Pulse

But here’s the kicker. Coming soon, Kobo is introducing Pulse. As you read through a book, an indicator at the bottom of the page will pulsate larger and brighter the more comments and reader activity there is from other members of the Kobo community.

Tap on the indicator and you can join the conversation.

Check out Kobo’s demo video (opens in a new window):

Let’s be clear. Content comes first. To compete in books, music or other content, you need to have a strong content library. But after that, the ability to create and grow a loyal community will give you a strong competitive advantage. Kobo got it.

UPDATE: Check out this interview from TabTimes with Kobo General Manager Matthew Welch: Kobo Vox and Pulse: “How is Kindle going to catch up with us?”

The five laws of engagement

Borrowing from Foursquare Product Manager Slobhan Quinn, here are five laws to help you create engagement now:

  • Law 1: We seek comfort in relationships: Surround us with community, which we’ve seen success with like Facebook, Twitter and 4chan.
  • Law 2: We all have something to say. So give us tools to express ourselves. Tools include comments, notes, and all the fun things Facebook has given us with Timeline, etc.
  • Law 3: We need to feel important. Use rewards to make us feel special.
  • Law 4: We are hypnotized by beauty. Give us something beautiful to look at.
  • Law 5: We are captivated by the unknown so target our curiosity. Foursquare does this with points!
Let me know what you think. Are you ready for social commerce?

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