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[Week 5] Building in Public - Motivation
I spent the last week talking to more folks in the world of e-commerce. My focus was on understanding content - all types of content - influencer generated, brand generated, user generated.
The larger 30,000 foot problem is still conversion, but I am letting my personal interest and motivation guide this search. A search which may lead to a different type of an offering than testimonials.
🤔 A few questions to the e-commerce world
Now for the purposes of this exercise, I am going to pick just one market: India.
While there a lot of similarities across e-commerce all over the world, there are also a few key differences between a market like the United States and India. One in particular is that there is an established "browser-based" purchase market in the US. What that means is folks are used to buying on their personal computers on websites, and hence the Shopify numbers both in terms of stores and revenue are the highest in the US.
How is it different in India? Most folks are on a mobile device and a lot of their early internet behaviors were formed on mobile-first.
Is this a reason to pick India? No. But it has other interesting fall outs which I will explain in my research.
I spoke to 2 large and 2 small brands about their online content marketing:
Ads on Instagram, Facebook and Google.
Paid Influencer marketing.
In-house content creation on their own social media.
Since we started looking at the video content problem, I looked at content created or paid for by brands in the following buckets:
Now, non-celebrity influencers became influencers because they have something interesting to say or have a knack for engaging a specific audience around a specific topic. The ones that keep growing have almost a formula that works over a longer period of time.
This is not easily replicated and seems like more of an art than a science. Sure you can post more frequently and follow templates, but its getting noisier out there.
Right now brands are paying as much for top influencers as they pay for ads. So the return on ad spend (ROAS) is shifting rapidly and they are looking for new ways to stand out. In the mean time, those who can, just buy this audience.
Organic posts from customers and others are the best form of posts for a brand especially if they are contagious. Because this is not a sales spin. It is the actual truth. People love a product or service so much that they tell their friends about it. Brands can't always manufacture these on-demand.
Some brands are smart about what they put on their own handles. How-tos, teaching people how to do stuff can add value since folks won't follow a brand like they follow a person.
The biggest learning: I observed that even when brands have a million followers, often times they would have only 400 likes on a post, where as a great content creator with only 50,000 followers will have 5000 likes! 10% engagement on avg. People actually see and read when someone has something interesting to say and is relatable.
🧩 What's the point?
Some of this might seem obvious, but it is good to know first-hand how brands think about bottlenecks and budgets.
E-commerce brands make goods. They are not naturally great at content. They are not a media company.
Here is my question: is there another way?
I know live shopping/ QVC did not take off in India like it did in China. I am researching why.
However QVC is not content - it's just another channel to sell goods to people.
Is there another way to have great authentic content which is a better bridge for brands to sell?
Let's find out...