Can shopping work with social networks?

Looks like the American Marketing Association has its eye on social networks like MySpace as the shopping malls of the Web era. The AMA came out with a survey on Friday that said 47 per cent of people would go to such sites to research Christmas gifts — and better still, 29 per cent said they would buy things there if they could. You could almost hear the “cha-ching” while reading the story.

This idea has been commented on already by (among others) Muhammad Saleem at The Mu Life and Pete Cashmore at Mashable. As Froosh points out at HipMojo, News Corp. has been looking for ways to “monetize” MySpace ever since they paid more than half a billion dollars for it. But how best to do it? Not everyone is crazy about the idea of Wendy’s and Burger King setting up profiles for their advertising characters, and it’s hard to blame them.


So how to integrate selling things with something like MySpace — or even just regular blogs, for that matter. As Pete has mentioned, there are plenty of companies trying to solve that problem, including or “social shopping” sites like Crowdstorm, Wists, ThisNext and others. But the one I think has the most potential, although it doesn’t get written about a lot, is Goodstorm and its “MeCommerce” service, which is still in early beta.

In effect, it’s a sidebar shopping widget that allows blog readers to click and buy things without ever leaving the sidebar. It needs some work, but it’s an appealing idea — click to select a book or T-shirt or DVD, then click and enter your details, then click to buy it. And 50 per cent of the revenue goes to the site that hosts the widget. Goodstorm recently launched an API developers’ contest to see what kinds of widgets people could come up with.

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