Tag Archive | "sociable-labs"

Send In Your Questions For Ask A VC With Battery Ventures’ Brian O’Malley

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Brian_O’Malley___Battery_Ventures

This week on TechCrunch TV’s Ask a VC show, we have Battery Ventures partner Brian O’Malley in the studio. As you may remember, you can submit questions for our guests either in the comments or here and we’ll ask them during the show.

O’Malley leads Battery’s Seed & Early Stage practices, while focusing on investments in e-commerce, online marketplaces and Internet applications. His investments include Bazaarvoice, BoostCTR, BrightEdge, Coupa, Duetto, H.BLOOM, Insitu (acquired by Boeing), J. Hilburn, Joor, HotelTonight, Peerflix (acquired by Live Universe), Serena & Lily, Skullcandy, Sociable Labs, Sosh, TradeKing, Viddy and World Golf Tour.

Prior to Battery, O’Malley spent several years at Bowstreet (acquired by IBM), as Director of West Coast Technical Sales and earlier as the company’s Technical Evangelist preaching the future of web service-based APIs. He started his career as a web developer for Motorola Computer Group while only a sophomore in college.

O’Malley has invested in a number of startups that are aiming to transform offline industries, so we’re interested to hear where he sees as the next big opportunity in offline industries in need of transformation. And considering that O’Malley is a seed investor, we’re curious on his thoughts on AngelList’s Syndicates.

Please send us your questions for O’Malley here or put them in the comments below!

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Pinterestification! Sociable Labs Signs Up Wine.com, 19 Others For Its Pinterest-Like EverShare Offering

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pinterest_275wide

The Pinterest effect on e-commerce sites continues: online wine retailer Wine.com, a company with $67 million in annual revenue, is adding a social shopping component to its website which not only looks like Pinterest, but is also powered by Facebook. Wine.com says it’s using technology provided by Sociable Labs, a San Francisco-based startup which introduced its licensable “EverShare” product suite earlier this year.

But while Wine.com’s change is a notable one for them, the bigger story here is the traction that Sociable Labs is seeing, thanks to the “Pinterestification” (not a real word!) of e-commerce.

As a refresher, EverShare lets companies host their own Pinterest-style product pages on their websites, while also connecting with Facebook APIs to allow things like purchases, comments, and reviews to be shared with customers’ Facebook friends. It’s the kind of thing that could have been a Pinterest platform app, if Pinterest had a public API. But instead, the service gives sites the “Pinterest feel,” as well as the Facebook graph – an interesting and insanely practical combo.

On Wine.com’s site, for example, the implementation of Sociable’s technology allows visitors to visually browse through products, and, if they’re also connected to Facebook, they can instantly share their activity through Facebook’s Open Graph and see what their friends have recently purchased. There are also some handy customizations provided by Sociable Labs. For example, purchases with a gift message are never shared to Facebook so the surprise won’t be ruined. And there’s a box on the order confirmation page that lets customers post directly from checkout to Facebook.

But rollouts like this are risky. Wine.com didn’t do a big announcement, because the implementation is in beta. As I go to publish this, the EverShare-enabled Live Feed is down (the company says it’s doing “PCI compliance scans.” Oops.) Still, what do Wine.com’s customers think when a big part of the website is dead? Ideally, the best bet may be to make visual, social shopping a core part of the business, like Fab.com has, as opposed to a third-party integration. But not all merchants have the time or resources to make that happen. And maybe they’re not convinced that they should.

Sociable Labs’ CEO Nisan Gabbay says his company now has over 20 customers deployed or in process of deploying the EverShare feature set. And it’s not always e-commerce sites, as it turns out. “We’ve seen equally great response from prominent media companies, in addition to online retailers,” he notes. “As a result, we’ve doubled the size of our sales and services team over the last few months,” Gabbay says. However, because of agreements with customers, most don’t allow Sociable to publish specifics. The only others besides Wine.com which Gabbay could share are Charlotte Russe, Sole Society, Glyde, Rue La La, and Totsy.

The average monthly license fee for the EverShare software and accompanying analytics service is $6,000 per month, Gabbay tells us, and is determined by customer size. If visual browsing is the future of e-commerce and beyond, companies like his could be a big deal.

Should Retailers Go “Pinterest-Like” Or Pinterest Proper?

But retailers are going to soon have to make some tough decisions. Should they build visual, social shopping in-house, integrate directly with Pinterest and use third-party analytics offerings, or should they integrate a third-party Pinterest-like technology (like EverShare and its accompanying analytics reporting)? What’s the right answer?

EverShare, remember, launched in February, so it’s a very new product – those twenty some brands are definitely early adopters here.

Meanwhile, Pinterest itself is proving hugely influential in consumer online shopping behavior. According to new data from Compete, in a small survey, 31% of shoppers said that seeing a “pin” on Facebook influenced them to consider a brand and 25% said that seeing pins on Pinterest said it was used for discovery. Meanwhile, 8% on Pinterest and 5% on Facebook said the pin actually led to purchase.

But Compete points out that brands have been slow to engage on Pinterest, and wondered what the holdup may be. The lack of a proper API platform is likely a good guess. This stuff is difficult track. And, as with TV or magazine ads, it’s hard to know when exposure to imagery and content inspires a purchase further down the road…or even a “good feeling” about a brand. Measuring the true ROI of “pinning” behaviors, whether Pinterest proper or Pinterest-like (e.g. EverShare), is going to take some time. It’s the wild, wild west out there.

Workarounds For The Pinterest Problem

However, workarounds for the Pinterest problem are already starting to emerge. Pintics is doing analytics, for example. Lexity is introducing a new app tomorrow that lets merchants see how the products they carry are trending on Pinterest, and which are most popular. It’s also helping to discover the top influencers on the platform, as related to the products they sell. (Other apps have already emerged in the “pinfluence” space, like  Pinclout and Pinpuff.) But Lexity’s offering lets retailers really start taking action on Pinterest – businesses and brands can download top pins, influencers, find and follow the right people and the right boards, pin their top products automatically, track revenue generated by pins and more.

However, the “right” strategy, like most things in this space, is not going to be a one-size fits all solution, though. For some, EverShare could be an easy way to boost social engagement, while others will want to engage more directly on Pinterest itself. And for others still, they may go for a mix of solutions. Whatever the result, “Pinterestification” of shopping, and maybe even discovery itself is coming.



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Frictionless Sharing, Social Curation Key to Social Commerce Success [screenshots]

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As the trend toward the use of social commerce increases, two facts are coming into evidence:

  1. Rather than “brand-to-fan,” social commerce works best when customers initiate sharing with their friends on social networks.
  2. Sites like Pinterest, Fab.com and Rue La La have demonstrated the power of social curation to merchandise products in dynamic ways.

Recognizing the importance of these two factors, social commerce provider Sociable Labs has introduced a platform called EverShare that combines what it refers to as “frictionless sharing” and social curation to drive increases in referral traffic and on-site conversion.

Frictionless sharing can be defined as the shift from sharing on a per-transaction basis to a one-time opt-in by the user that enables them to share the entirety of their activity with friends.

According to Sociable Labs CEO and founder Nisan Gabbay, frictionless sharing is advantageous in two ways. Not only does it give customers the ability to share product information with their friends from the retailer’s site, but authorizes sharing of their entire activity, not just a ‘like’.  This results in a dramatic increase in sharing of social content, which leads to an increase in inbound traffic back to the website.

“Amazon typically sees about five percent of its traffic coming from Facebook. Utilizing this frictionless sharing model, brands like Fab.com are experiencing as much as 25 percent of its traffic from Facebook,” said Gabbay.

Rather than start with Facebook, Gabbay’s philosophy is to position social commerce activity on the ecommerce site. “People are not not in a shopping mode on Facebook, but are there to socialize. They don’t trust transacting on Facebook as much as they do on an ecommerce site, and the user experience isn’t as good as on an ecommerce website,” said Gabbay. “Therefore, bringing social elements onto the ecommerce site is the best approach.”

According to the company, EverShare provides everything an online retailer needs to take full advantage of frictionless sharing on both Facebook and the ecommerce site . Features include:

  1. The ability to initiate and manage the perpetual flow of user content from the ecommerce site to Facebook;
  2. Privacy controls for the consumer;
  3. A social merchandising page much like Pinterest and Fab.com/feed that displays trending products based on what shoppers are saying about them;
  4. An activity stream that incentivizes more social sharing activities among shoppers.

One of Sociable’s first EverShare customers, Charlotte Russe, is integrating the platform’s functionality across its ecommerce site to engage its customer base. “Our customers use Facebook to manage every aspect of their lives, from announcing a new boyfriend to making plans for a girls’ night out,” said Paul Hollowell, marketing manager at Charlotte Russe. “EverShare, for the first time, allows us to seamlessly integrate Facebook conversations about Charlotte Russe into our website, enhancing the shopping experience with social elements.”

“There’s a real convergence happening in the retail space,” said Gabbay. “Facebook has widened the user sharing pipeline and social curation has captivated the interest of shoppers for discovering and sharing new products. The two together will have a profound impact on how retailers merchandise their products in the future.”

EverShare Activity Stream Feature

EverShare Activity Stream feature embedded on retailer's ecommerce site

EverShare user share controls

EverShare user privacy controls

EverShare Gallery feature

EverShare Gallery feature

Sociable Labs introduces ‘frictionless sharing’ Open Graph apps for e-commerce sites

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Social commerce app provider Sociable Labs released a new suite of applications this week that allows online retailers to integrate Facebook Open Graph with their sites.

The EverShare app suite creates “frictionless sharing” for e-commerce sites so user activity automatically publishes to Facebook’s Ticker and Timeline. By licensing Sociable Labs’ software, businesses don’t have to build their own custom apps.

Retailers can add the EverShare activity stream to personalize customers’ experiences by displaying how friends have interacted with the site. Users can also set up activity alerts to get Facebook notifications when friends take action on the site. There is also a gallery feature that aggregates trending items in a Pinterest-style display.

We like that the apps give users clear understanding and control over how their activity is shared. The apps include a straightforward button to switch between sharing and private mode. There’s even a prompt to disconnect the app completely. These controls are important to generate trust among users. As more websites, especially e-commerce sites, integrate Open Graph, they should follow the example of EverShare and the news apps we’ve previously covered to maintain user privacy and promote more sharing in the long run.

Adding social applications to third-party sites could be the direction many retailers begin to take instead of creating page tab versions of their online stores. In cases where businesses already have successful e-commerce sites, it makes sense to integrate Facebook there rather than trying to port the store to another platform.

Article courtesy of Inside Facebook

Sociable Labs’ EverShare Adds FB Auto-Sharing And Pinterest Boards To Any Site

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Sociable Labs Pinbook

Referral traffic is pouring out of Pinterest and Facebook’s Open Graph frictionless sharing. With Sociable Lab’s licensable EverShare you can snatch their functionality without any serious development work and soak up some page views. EverShare lets you host your own Pinterest-style product or content boards to give your users their social curation fix. It also instantly roots your site into Facebook’s confusing APIs so purchases, comments, reviews, and pins are automatically blasted at friends of your visitors.

Pinterest’s simple, stable sharing canvas has struck a chord with ecommerce shoppers and middle America’s women in particular. You could add Pin It buttons to your site and hope they get clicked, but great websites steal, they don’t borrow. Sociable Labs licenses a website personalization SaaS to sites that want to instantly get social. EverShare Gallery mimics Pinterest’s home page activity board, but only displays trending products and those shared by a user’s friends.

I’ve spoken to several developers and they want to add Frictionless Sharing, but they’ve found the Facebook developer docs confusing. Considering how most sites and apps that integrates it see traffic go through the roof, there’s surely plenty of sites looking for a turnkey hose into the Facebook Ticker, Timeline, and news feed. EverShare Connector makes it as easy as writing a check.

Once integrated, users don’t even have to go back to Facebook to see what friends are sharing. The sidebar activity feed also includes the option to turn off sharing, for those who don’t want friends to know how many shoes they buy.

Virality best practices are developing faster than most companies can employ them. Meanwhile, good developers and designers are in short supply. For content sites, buying referral traffic might not produce big ROI. But for ecommerce sites, a monthly SaaS subscription could pay for itself quickly since Sociable Labs says socially sourced traffic converts 250-300% higher.



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Only 2.8% Of Website Visitors Opt In To Facebook Personalization

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Facebook Login Click Through Rate

Many websites include Facebook integrations in hopes of offering personalization that can increase conversions, page views, and social sharing. However, just 2.8% of ecommerce site visitors end up with a personalized experience, as only 5% click the Facebook login buttons, and then only 56% follow through with granting a site permission to access their data, according to a new study by Sociable Labs. This shows that users aren’t actually as scared of the Facebook authorization flow’s privacy implications as some might assume. The real hurdle is getting users to click the login button in the first place.

For comparison, Sociable Labs tells me Facebook Like buttons only have a 0.1%-0.2% click through rate — much lower than the CTR of login or personalization buttons, or the 2.8% that actually end up with personalization. As long as websites don’t disrupt their design with these buttons or hinge their entire experience on opt-in user data, there’s little harm and a lot of good that can come from Facebook integrations. They can help direct users to relevant products or content that match their interests or that have been viewed by friends.

To conduct the study,  social web integration developer Sociable Labs analyzed 24 million ecommerce site visits and 1.2 million views of the Facebook authentication flow across 42 different social applications of its clients. The majority of sites see between 50% and 66% of visitors opting in to personalization if they click through to see the prompt shown below. Additional findings include that asking for fewer data types increased the opt in rate, and that users sourced via search engine optimization and marketing opted in less often.

Last month, Sociable Labs shared data with us indicating that over 50% of ecommerce site visitors are already logged into Facebook. This means that social plugins such as the Like button that don’t require user permissions to function are a safe bet for websites.

But few people want to click a random “Facebook Login” button with no idea of what they’re getting. If sites want the benefits of learning a user’s biographical information, location, interests, and other data, they must expend real estate to say why users should opt in. A little note that “By logging in we’ll be able to suggest relevant products and deals from our huge catalog” goes a long way.



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Social Commerce News Roundup: $100m+ pours in, waste of money says Read Write Web

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The last couple of weeks have seen a slew of social commerce news hit the wires, much with a real the-future-of-social-commerce-is-personalised-recommendations theme.  It can be tough keeping up with the fast-moving social commerce sector, so here’s a quick digest of what you need to know;

Article courtesy of Social Commerce Today

50% Of Ecommerce Site Visitors Are Logged In To Facebook

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Facebook Ecommerce Shoppers Stay Logged In

Ecommerce sites should consider how they can personalize their sites using Facebook data, as a new study shows 50% of visitors to ecommerce sites are currently logged in to Facebook. Using Facebook social plugins and Connect integrations, sites can leverage Facebook data to show visitors what friends bought or shared, what products relate to their Likes, and which friends they might want to invite. The study was conducted by Sociable Labs, which helps websites implement social functionality, and looked at 456 million visits to over a dozen ecommerce sites catering to different demographics.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that ecommerce sites are increasingly adding social features. She shared with us a new statistic: 88% of Internet Retailer Top 200 retail sites are integrated with Facebook.

Sociable Labs’ founder and CEO Nisan Gabbay explained that the target age market for an ecommerce site has surprisingly little influence on the percentage of visitors that were logged in to Facebook. Those aimed at college students were closer to 60%, but even those with middle aged saw at least 40% of visitors logged in.

The data was collected using the FB.getLoginStatus() API call from sites of Sociable Labs’ analytics and ecommerce integration customers. Gabbay tells me that while some of the studied sites attract early adopters, he has discussed the data with Facebook and the company validated it. Also, despite the fact that his company could benefit from more sites adopting social, the sample size is large enough to decrease the likelihood of bias.

“People look at Facebook’s active user count but don’t quite get how pervasive the service is in people’s lives. It’s there all the time in any activity they do online”, Gabbay says. The stats indicate that there may be less risk of sites offending non-Facebook users by adding social functionality than one might expect, because there just aren’t that many hold-outs any more. There’s also technical ways to detect if a user is logged in, and hide those big blue social plugins if they’re not.

As we enter the holiday season, there will be a critical mass of shoppers taking actions on ecommerce sites. Those willing to develop or license Facebook integrations can use social data to point visitors to the products most relevant to them. This can produce a lot more sales than leaving visitors them to browse aimlessly.



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Sociable Labs Launches Custom Ecommerce Facebook Social Plugin Software With $7 Million Second Round

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Sociable Labs has just emerged from stealth and launched its hosted software service that provides large ecommerce websites with custom Facebook social plugins that increase conversions and referral traffic. Rather than implement standard Like buttons or develop their own Open Graph integration, Sociable Labs’ turn-key solution lets sites show their users the products that friends have bought or signed up for, who to ask for, recommendations, and relevant suggestions of friends to invite.

To fund product development and marketing of the “ROI-Guided Social Design” hosted software solution Sociable Labs has raised a $7 million Series B round led by Battery Ventures. The company’s product addresses the traffic and conversion needs of ecommerce sites by exploiting the full potential of Facebook’s social and interest graphs. The company reports that initial tests of the $50,000 a year product have generated a 20-times increase in sharing to Facebook.

Customized Social Plugins Beat One-Size-Fits-All

Facebook’s current social plugins are designed to be generally applicable. The Like button fits most websites, but asking users to Like an action they’ve taken such as buying a product or registering for an event is a bit awkward. The Recommendations and Activity Feed plugins show what friends or the general Facebook populace have Liked, but don’t can’t tell users what friends have bought or browsed.

Sociable Labs’ product lets sites create social plugins designed specifically to encourage sharing of the types of actions that occur on their site. For example, custom plugins can be configured to ask users to “Tell friends what you just bought/signed up for” after they make a purchase or registration. The product leverage a site’s clickstream data and Facebook’s interest graph. That way it can show a customer viewing ecommerce search results which product their friends purchased, which brands their friends browsed most, or which friends have Facebook interests related to the results and might have recommendations.

For example, if I’m browsing skis on a sporting goods website powered by Sociable Labs, I might see a plugin that shows that three friends browsed the Rossignol brand. Then while deciding which pair to buy it could show me friends who Like “Skiing” or “Northstar Ski Resort” on Facebook who I could ask for recommendations. Once I purchase, I’d be shown a Facebook sharing button asking “Josh, show off the new skis you bought to friends”.

Other powerful social plugins Sociable Labs offers include targeted referrals that recommends friends with relevant Likes to invite to a site or send an email promotion to, with the referrer getting a discount when friends sign up. Group promotions let users recruit friends to reduce the price of an item, and an activity stream shows all the recent browsing, shares, and purchases of friends.

Beta client Active.com used Sociable Labs’ product to increase the rate of Facebook sharing by its users from 0.2% to 8% and increase conversion rates from Facebook traffic by 33%. Other clients also saw sharing increase by more than 20-fold. These shares generate significant referral traffic and sales for site. In fact, a Sociable Labs study showed that traffic coming from authentic social shares by friends converts 300% better than traffic from news feed updates published by Facebook Pages and 67% better than traffic from email marketing.

Sociable Labs See Sharing as the Key to ROI, Not Page Updates

Founded as part of fbFund in June 2009, the San Francisco-based Sociable Labs has since taken a total of $8.8 million in funding and grown to 25 employees. It is targeting the top 500 internet retailers who may see much more traffic to their website than their Facebook Pages, and therefore want to focus on bridging their sites with the social network. Sociable Labs now has 12 clients paying $50,000 a year subscriptions to its product and more for custom design work to skin the plugins.

The social plugin software is hosted by Sociable Labs so it’s easy to embed into websites. It stores all of a site’s clickstream data, even if the site doesn’t already do that itself. The company found that 40% of visitors to ecommerce sites were currently logged in to Facebook, allowing it to tie clickstream and conversion data to identity and show personalized social plugins to a significant portions of a client’s visitors. Also included in the product are a suite of tools for clients to A/B test and optimize the plugins.

The company’s CEO Nisan Gabbay tells me that “to date, brands have focused on monitoring mentions, gaining fans for their Facebook Pages, and pumping messages to fans. However, the right way to get a return on investment from social is getting more consumer to consumer viral marketing.” This is similar to the approach of BadgeVille, which is using gamification and personalized activity streams to increase loyalty and get users spending more time on content sites.

There are opportunities for ecommerce sites to utilize Facebook’s new Open Graph app system revealed at f8 to drive qualified referral traffic. Gabbay believes “Open Graph is very key to enabling social commerce, but its overwhelming for marketers.” Also, while automatic, implicit Open Graph activity sharing to the Ticker can generate traffic, Sociable Labs encourages explicit shares that are more likely to reach the main news feed, and on-site recommendation plugins that are more advanced than Facebook’s official plugins.

Until now, most Facebook marketing platforms center around Page management, with giants like Buddy Media and Vitrue consolidating the industry by acquiring or partnering with ecommerce, Ads API, and games companies. Buddy Media did acquire and integrate social plugin company Spinback, but otherwise there hasn’t been much activity in the third-party site Facebook integration space.

This is going to change. As brands increase their focus on ROI, they will pay for social plugins that drive more traffic and conversions than Facebook’s. Gabbay agrees, saying “It’s a little early, but I’m sure you’ll see a lot of consolidation” as the bigger players move to add social plugins to their service offering. For now, though, Sociable Labs is a step ahead, offering a product that can drastically improve sharing and conversion rates for ecommerce sites.

Article courtesy of Inside Facebook

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