social media

Understanding the Domain Validation Change

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UPDATE 2/22/13: We have added some answers to most frequently asked questions we'll be answering over the last couple of days. We hope this is helpful.

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Today, we have officially removed the requirement for validating your domains with eBay Partner Network. You may remember that last month we made an initial announcement about this change, and that prompted questions from our partners, such as:  Is there a list of specific third-party sites we’re allowed to use? What about Social Media?

Good questions.

Starting today, we’re launching a pilot of sorts that will allow partners to promote eBay on any site in a manner that fits within the spirit of our Code of Conduct. Specifically, we want to call out the following sections:

Third Party Terms.  You are responsible for complying with all terms of use applicable to third party sites should you place Links or Promotional Content on such sites.

Reservation of Rights.   eBay Partner Network reserves the right to filter, and/or withhold compensation for, traffic that we believe does not comply with any of the terms above.

That means that sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are all acceptable platforms for promoting eBay. So, when we say “spirit” in the above paragraph, what do we mean? Well, promoting eBay on your own Facebook Wall would fall within the spirit of our Code, while spamming the Walls of your Facebook friends with eBay links, would not. Additionally, adult content and gambling websites would also fall outside of our agreement. In short, we’re asking you to think ethically and always keep eBay’s brand in mind when deciding on promotional placement.

From our side, this means that we have to be incredibly vigilant about network quality. Our team will be closely monitoring traffic and placement to make sure our partners continue to send quality traffic to eBay.

Finally, URL shorteners have become an integral part of social networking and we want you to be able to use them. Please note that in 2015 we updated the list of approved URL shortening services to those offered by: Stumble UponTwitter and Google. Using any other URL shorteners will result in your traffic being invalidated.

We hope you’re excited about this change. As we’ve mentioned a few times already, we’re committed to winning your V.O.T.E.S. this year, and we believe this moves the needle in a significant way toward that end. We thank you in advance for your cooperation in making this pilot successful and sustainable for the long term.

We know there is a lot of information to take in from this post. Please share any feedback or ask any questions you may have in the comments below and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.

Less Than 1% of Online Purchases Influenced by Social Media

You can’t read business or tech blogs these days without being deluged with seemingly contradictory information about what works and what doesn’t when selling products and marketing your business online. Last week, we wrote about how nearly 20% of women in the US are using Pinterest and made a solid case for adding the growing social network to your marketing mix. Then, this week a new study emerges that seems to disprove the value of social media.

As reported by Mashable, Forrester has released a study that says that less than 1% of online purchases resulted from the use of social media. They examined 77,000 transactions between April 1st and April 14th and found that only a minute percentage could be traced back to social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Keep in mind that determining how a user’s web activity influences purchasing decisions is not an exact science. Usually, the last touchpoint before a sale is the one credited, but that wouldn’t be true as an ePN Publisher. For example, let’s say a user sees an item on your Pinterest page, clicks through to your site and proceeds to eBay to buy the item. eBay would credit (and compensate) the publisher and not know Pinterest had anything to do with influencing that purchase. Sure, it's a one-off theoretical example, but you get the idea.

Forrester says that following direct traffic, organic and paid search are the next two biggest drivers of purchases for first-time users – accounting for 39% of new customer transactions. Forrester calls these users “spear fishers” – those buyers that know exactly what they want and find it through search.

Keep in mind that this is just one study. I don’t think the takeaway here should be that social media isn’t important. In fact, the Forrester research specifically says that small businesses – which were not included in the study – can greatly benefit from utilizing social media. Obviously, a well-rounded marketing mix is the key to a successful strategy. By utilizing search, email, social and other means you’ll cover your bases and make sure your message gets in front of the right people.

I’m sure there are plenty of opinions on this topic – if you’ve got one, we’d love to hear it. Please feel free to comment below.

What Can Publishers Learn from eBay’s Social Selling Pilot?

Since the beginning of 2012, eBay has been working with a group of 8 sellers to help them build their business and increase sales by using social media.

From the eBay Ink Blog:

We brought [sellers] to San Jose, spent a day outlining sellers’ strategy, and committed them to at least 30 minutes per day working on their social media strategy. Turns out some of our initial ideas were great, some were good, and some were not as good. We learned that building relationships enabled online word of mouth advertising, and that providing tastes that compliment an eBay seller’s brand allowed for product and seller discovery much more than spamming listings. We also learned (err, confirmed) that sellers have to be authentic, as faking interests is quite transparent. And we also learned we have a lot of work to do providing educational material that actually reaches our sellers.

                                                       -Andrew Chase

Obviously, this is a small pilot program so there’s no way to tell how this might scale across thousands of sellers, but the initial data and revenue increases are worth a closer look. In fact, it is so compelling that it got me thinking about how our Publishers might be able to use some of these basic tactics to boost revenue for their businesses. How can you be using social media to drive more traffic to your site and more interest in your brand?

NOTE: Please remember that it is against our terms of service to drive traffic directly to eBay from any social media account. Instead, the desired lead path is to migrate users from your social media channels to your website and complete the click to eBay from your domain. This approach not only keeps things within our TOS, it also has a better chance of building a long-term supporter of your brand.

Chatting with eBay Partner Network: Richard Brewer-Hay Gets Social

A few weeks ago Ivka Adam got the chance to sit down with eBay’s Chief Blogger, Richard Brewer-Hay, or as he’s known within the walls of eBay, “RBH.” This interview was exciting to me for several reasons. First, Richard and I have been friends for ages – long before either of us came to eBay. We’ve worked on a variety of projects together and I’ve always appreciated his approach to communication, collaboration and problem solving. Second, RBH understands how social media fits into the eBay landscape better than anyone I’ve encountered. You’ll get to see a lot of that knowledge throughout this episode.

Often times we have a tendency to gloss over the mistakes we’ve made as a company. Sometimes it’s just easier for us to not talk about our problems. I admire the fact that Richard not only faces those mistakes head-on, but is also willing to dissect them to figure out how to learn from, and avoid repeating them going forward.

I’m a big fan of RBH’s beer analogy in this video. As he mentions, he’s a beer-lover and this is a great way to explain the impact of social media at a company like eBay in simpler terms. It’s certainly an example I’ll be borrowing from him in the future.

What are your thoughts about Richard’s views on social media? What do you think of ePN or eBay’s overall use of social media? What could we do better? We look forward to your constructive and thoughtful comments below.

50 Percent of All Adults Use Social Networking

Here at eBay we believe in the tremendous power of social networks – not only as tools to sell products, but also as a great way to connect people and build communities. Maybe you’ve read a couple of the posts I’ve written about the importance and implementation of social networking for your business? If not, you can find them HERE, HERE and HERE.

Late last week Pew Research Center released a study that shows that half of all adults in the United States use social networks. That’s 50% of ALL Americans – not just the ones that say they’re online. Six years ago when Pew did this same study, only 5% of all adults said they used social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace. If we break down the study even further we see that 83% of respondents in the 18-29 age range said they use social networking sites, compared to 51% of the 50-64 age bracket.

What does this mean to publishers?

This study highlights the way that technology is changing the way we spend our time engaging, connecting and shopping. Adults of all ages continue to adopt social media as part of their daily routines and your business could (and should) be benefiting from that shift in behavior. Did you know that Facebook is the second most-trafficked website in the U.S.? In fact, according to Alexa, five of the top 10 most visited sites are social media sites. Impressive right?

Over the last year have you seen a shift in how consumers discover and use your business? Is social media a factor in how you operate day-to-day? If you’re not actively using social media to promote your business, what is the tipping point you’re waiting for? We’d love to get your thoughtful insights and comments below.

New Study Finds Shopping is Almost Entirely Social

I came across an article last week that drove home something I think most of us already know - consumers are more likely to trust social contacts, like friends and family, than retailers when it comes to deciding what to buy.

The article, published on Internet Retailing, laid out some pretty compelling statistics about how we, as consumers, make our shopping decisions:

  • 70% rate their friends recommendations as ‘important’
  • 28% value recommendations from a shop assistant
  • 62% value consumer reviews
  • 35% value recommendations from mainstream media.

The study, conducted by FlyResearch, surveyed 1,200 people to draw their conclusions.

Digging deeper into the next layer the study found that 87% of respondents look at consumer reviews before making a purchase and 69% said it actually lent more credibility if there were negative reviews mixed in with the positive.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, should it? Word of mouth has always been more powerful than the savviest of marketing campaigns. The difference is that social media and comparative reviews have given consumers the ability to expand their network of ‘trusted recommendations’ over a much wider area not constrained by geography or real-life social circles.

The other point this study illustrates is that consumers tend to prefer “real” over “polished.” They would rather see all viewpoints on a product or service, not just the positive ones.

How does this translate to your business? What sort of social currency can you include on your site that will help boost consumer confidence in what you’re promoting? As always, your constructive comments are welcome.