The diamond water paradox ought to be revised. These days a couple hundred shares of stock in Google or perhaps Facebook next year, can be worth more than a good sized diamond and may in certain ways be as essential as the water we need to continue living.
Of course, we haven’t reached the point where you’d actually have to log-in to your Twitter or Facebook account to buy a bottle of water at a convenience store.
Then again, there may actually be companies that are planning to integrate or have actually integrated Point of Sale systems (a.k.a cash registers) with either social networking websites. The idea behind this is that when you purchase something from these companies, your purchase shows up as an update on your social network and that will perhaps, for a time, have an impact on the “conversations” you think you may be having with the world. It’s kind of like Foursquare in a way but more directly tied up with actual purchases.
I have no way to determine whether this will actually be acceptable or even desirable. When Friendster, Myspace, and Multiply first came into the scene, I actually wondered why the heck would anyone want to tell the world the minute details of their lives. Then, of course, these websites were somewhat wildly successful and actually made money, so my own estimation of whether such a cash-register/social networking integration will be successful is ultimately doubtful.
Anyway, just considering this cash-register/social networking integration as an idea for a money making website, I can see certain possibilities. As an idea for a Facebook or Twitter integrated website, this does something that is actually quite common place and that is, looking at what the person in front of you at the grocery check out is buying. Except of course, in this case, you won’t be looking at the grocery cart of an absolute stranger but a friend’s or acquaintance.
From a promotional standpoint, candy bar makers can offer discounts based on the number of friends in your social network that buys the same candy at the same time. The trade off for the candy bar maker is that the purchases make for a better endorsement of their product as well as providing an alternative to high cost traditional advertising.
From an inventory movement vis-a-vis store-based advertising advertising standpoint, candy bar makers can gauge in real time the effect their advertising has and perhaps find a way to respond more quickly — either by changing the advertisement or pulling out particular candy bars that don’t make it to the cash register.
From the point of view of a social network driven campaign, can you imagine what the almost involuntary deluge of “likes” and status updates will be like? And the thing is, companies won’t need a Twitter endorsements from Lady Gaga to drive a conversation or need to hire “social media experts” to work their magic.
One such company that I’ve found that is already offering this cash register/Facebook integrations is Bean Stalk Loyalty. According to its website, “Beanstalk Loyalty is a division of Beanstalk Data, a marketing automation company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.”
What it offers is this:
“Our patent pending technology delivers a loyalty platform with the long sought after integration between the point-of-sale (POS) terminal and social networks such as Facebook. This unique integration with Facebook, Foursquare and the like enables retail stores and restaurants — with their customers’ permission given during loyalty registration – to check them into Facebook Places or Foursquare, post on their wall and potentially influence their Facebook friends while at the same time leveraging the POS information to influence their behavior.”
In simple terms, the purchases you make will goad your friends on Facebook to buy the same products.
Better yet, Stores dot Org describes what happens with Beanstalk:
“While retailers can use location-based social media services to learn who is in their store, Bailey notes it is more difficult to determine what, if anything, those customers bought.
“With Beanstalk Loyalty, the transaction “checks into” Facebook when the customer swipes her loyalty card or provides a phone number at the POS. The retailer has the option to post on the customer’s wall that she visited the restaurant or purchased an item. That customer’s Facebook friends can then click on the post to receive a coupon.”
Of course, that this assumes that you are the sort of person who doesn’t get tired of seeing all those status messages of friends playing one sort of game or another.
Can you just imagine your friends grocery list or impulse purchases showing up on your wall everyday? I mean, I love my friends on Facebook — all 12 of them in fact — but I’d be irritated as hell if they started posting status messages like, “I just bought a Fudgee Stick of Diabetes Inducing Lard” or something like that.
Frankly, I don’t really care about what my friends buy because most of my friends actually make bad decisions at the grocery store. Then again, this is perhaps because most of my friends are guys like me and beyond beer or Singaporean pork jerky, every thing else we buy is more often than not a Phail.
Which gets me to thinking how on earth I’ll manage to explain to my wife the reason why we still have a can of air freshener that makes everything smell like bacon.
Paul Farol is a Filipino writer and blogger currently based in Manila. He is currently a media practitioner and is involved in community development projects in Northern and Southern Luzon, Philippines.