Amazon has done it, Levi’s has done it, now beauty giant Estée Lauder has done it – integrating their e-commerce site with Facebook to personalise and socialise the shopping experience.  Not on their main site mind you – but for their hip makeup artist brand Smashbox that they purchased last year.

Login to with Facebook, and get instant personalisation/socialisation – see what is most ‘Liked’, and see what your friends most ‘Like’ – in terms of products, colours and videos on the Smashbox Social Shop.

It’s a slick SocialAmp powered build on Amazon and Levi’s friends stores.  SocialAmp have worked with Sinan Aral, assistant professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business on viral product design and viral store design. Bottom line, it’s simple – shares drive sales.

More interestingly, the research which looked at the flow of influence in social networks found that personalised shares (e.g. a Facebook ‘send’ or personal referrals) where a user actively invites or sends a personal message to a friend are more persuasive and have a greater impact on adoption, but more passive scatter-gun broadcast ‘Likes’ have a greater aggregate effect because they reach more people.  The twist in the tail is that personalised shares may have a longer term impact on adoption than likes.   But whatever you do – add sharing features to your store.

Overall, the research found that by adding viral sharing features to a product (and by extension, to a purchase), businesses can increase peer influence (social contagion) 246% for broadcast-passive ‘Like’-like shares, and 98% for personal-active ‘Send’-like shares.  See here for a groovy Harvard Business Review graphic summarising the research – and here for the full report, and below for a PopTech video summary

Another insight from the research looking at Social Amp data, was that openness to influence is dependant on relationship status – basically, if you’re selling in social media, you don’t want to be selling to ‘marrieds’, you want to be selling to people whose relationship status is set to “it’s complicated”.

From Sinan Aral social commerce presentation 2010

For the more geeky, the research made a useful distinction between viral characteristics (content/attributes likely to drive sharing) – and viral features (modalities of how the content/product is used)

Top viral characteristics include

  • Usefulness
  • Topicality
  • prominence
  • positive valence
  • Unexpectedness

(Berger and Milkman 2009, Stephen andBerger 2009, Berger and Heath 2005, Phelps et al 2004, Heath, Bell and Sternberg 2001).

Top viral features include

  • Invites
  • Notifications (Like’s)
  • Links (Hypertext)

In the same way as “A scholar is just a library’s way of making another library” a customer is just a business’ way of making more business. Think viral! (and if you really want to go down the rabbit hole with this one, look at F.T. Cloak’s seminal article upon which much memetic thinking was based Is a Cultural Ethology Possible? and learn about i-culture and m-culture)



And here’s a mobile recording of a better TEDx talk from a couple of week’s ago