eBay CEO John Donahoe, speaking at the DLD Conference last month in Munich, commented that: “Innovation is not driven by retailers. Innovation is technology-enabled and consumers are driving it. Consumers are in charge here.”
Now his online auction-based brand is looking to innovate by returning to its roots to create more of a community among its users — and, naturally, attract new useres.
eBay is "an inherently social experience built around a marketplace — marketplace is the key concept here. It’s about people exchanging ideas, exchanging passions and interests, and really doing everything from peer-to-peer commerce, all the way up to large-scale merchants. That’s one of the very unique aspects that eBay has,” eBay's VP of Social Product, Don Bradford, told Mashable.
Bradford is part of a newly formed business unit along with Jeannie Reeth, senior director of social, North America, and Richard Brewer-Hay, eBay's blogger-in-chief, realigning its brands including PayPal, StubHub and RedLaser and improving communications, engagement and the consumer shopping experience.
“Today we’re thinking from a much more customer-centric view of the world. We now think about what is relevant to the consumer, what is timely, what is important in their lives, and engage them in that dialogue,” Reeth told Mashable.
To that end, eBay recently held a Social Media Week series of panel discussions that featured Bradford discussing eBay's social commerce efforts and his colleagues, plus a variety of social media-savvy guests in sessions that you can click through to watch on YouTube:
• Social by Design presentation by Facebook social commerce strategist Galyn Burke
• a Mobile Wallet panel
• a Social Commerce panel
• Social Commerce and Rewards with BlogHer cofounder Lisa Stone
• Social Commerce Landscape with Useful Social Media's Brian Smith
• Youth & Social Commerce featuring teen entrepreneur Daniel Brusilovsky
• and a keynote session by digital strategist Brian Solis of Altimeter Group.
eBay also pulled out the social stops around Valentine's Day this year. The brand produced a series of real couple videos (plus a couple of humorous ads; check them out below) via Facebook for Valentine’s Day that garnered more than 230,000 views on YouTube; and hosted a Valentine’s Day Twitter Chat Party that received 14.1 million impressions, with 4,800 users participating, for a total of 4,300 mentions and 1,700 retweets. The party included a sweepstakes to win a $1,000 eBay shopping spree via the Twitter hashtag #eBayWithLove.
eBay’s X.commerce developer arm, being integrated with Facebook’s open graph, uses PayPal access for ‘check-out.’ As Donahoe told The Next Web, “Our platform connects into Facebook’s platform in a very compelling way, and I’d like it to plug in to Google+’s platform too…Innovation and social commerce won’t be a big winner-takes-all killer app. It’s going to be a lot of innovative experiments, some of which will really take off.”
eBay has created a guide on "social media selling" with tips and best practices such as: "in a nutshell, Facebook is for staying in touch, Twitter is for 'breaking news,' blogs are for telling the story, and YouTube is for videos." And it warns sellers to "genuinely contribute to the conversation," "don't spam your fans!" and "don't be controversial."
Putting some heart into its social efforts, the brand helped raise a record amount of funds for charity in 2011, and is busy expanding its local partnerships.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced that the state would sell vehicles, furniture and supplies on eBay. 500 Surplus state vehicles will be sold this spring. New York has maintained an eBay site for years, but will launch a new eBay-based sales platform in April called NYSSTORE to sell unwanted equipment including cars, a surplus bulldozer, a Vietnam-era communications tower and an emergency command van that belonged to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
“You would not believe what you can find in New York State government to sell,” said Howard Glaser, Cuomo’s director of state operations. “You want office supplies, you want computers, you want cell phones, you want furniture, we’ve got it, we’ll get it to you at cut rates.”
Below, check out some of eBay's Valentine's Day 2012 videos that aimed to tickle the funny bone and encourage gift-giving from the heart: