eBay started as a social network of buyers and sellers.
Interaction between these two separate yet linked groups of people crossed all boundaries, social, economic, international, class and religion.
eBay is social marketing
...and has been relying on social marketing for its success since long before the terminology was coined.
The Internet has changed a great deal since eBay started.
Back in 1995 the only social networks were AOL, Yahoo and eBay. No one at the time knew eBay would grow into a social marketing network but this is what has happened. Buyers and sellers connected on a personal level over great distances and found common ground in the items they traded for online.
Now eBay is turning its back on the basis of social networking and social marketing.
With the recent announcements concerning new linking violations eBay in essence is trying to put the genie back in the bag and morph itself into a closed, fire walled community. The tide has been flowing in this direction for some time now. With mass editing of discussion board topics and revisions of user posts, eBay has been becoming more and more restrictive and less open than ever before. This can only lead to an inevitable conclusion.
The entire world is moving toward open source, open networks and social media.
Now EBay is trying to become the CIA of Social marketing - Only accepting information from outside sources yet not sharing any of its own. This will be perceived for what it truly is, a very large mistake.
There are very good reasons for the explosion of growth in social sites like FaceBook and My Space. These networks provide value for the users, they are easy to use, and they open up the horizons of possibility to people all over the world who want to give and take information.
eBay does not seem to have an inkling of a clue about the major shift away from closed networks and into the new world of social media and social marketing.
Think about all of the viral marketing eBay could have done with YouTube and MySpace, yet they do not even provide simple apps or widgets for use on these sites.
Case in point...
This morning I was reading the Trading Assistant Discussion board on eBays own site.
The pink (eBay moderator) on this board was being helpful by providing a link to a very nice presentation eBay produced promoting Education Specialists and Trading Assistants.
Members of the forum thanked the moderator for providing the link to this fine presentation but then asked how to embed the video presentation into their own websites...
As a seemingly simple request and one which most companies would jump through hoops to fulfill. I am amazed to find eBay did not respond... Really, what is better than having private citizens ask you for a way to promote your product or service on their own web properties for free?
After 2 days and no response from eBay or from the usually helpful eBay moderator... I am wondering...
Does eBay now have a policy against social marketing?
I decided to see exactly how tough it would be for eBay to make an embedded version off this presentation available for people who wished to use it to promote eBay.
Turns out, it is not that difficult...
(Follow the button above to see the results)
Once there I simply took the provided link from the Trading Assistant board and I placed it into the developer tools at Widgetbox to make an embeddable version of the presentation. My version is quite large because I could not re-size the original presentation so it may not be suitable for all blog themes, but it could work well on a standard website. If I had access to the original file, I am certain a widget could be made which would embed into size theme or sidebar.
eBay certainly has this ability...
I then shared the new widget with the readers of the eBay Trading Assistant Discussion Board...
This equates to the roots of social marketing.
Social marketing relies upon, people spreading the word... as in word of mouth advertising, yet do it on their own blogs and websites and social media destinations...
Why did I have to be sure to make a note in my post where I had shared this widget, this service, this easy way to share eBays great presentation... that I had done it simply to help?
Because I am afraid eBay may get miffed at the fact that I provided a way for people to share the presentation which was not totally under their control. I do not want to be banned from the discussion boards for trying to help. With eBay's new and ever more controlling view of social interaction on their site the possibility is not out of the question.
eBay just does not GET IT
They should have had this presentation available on You Tube, as an embedded video, as a widget for mySpace, as a side bar widget - in every form of media sharing code possible...
Yet they only provide a link to the original file, and when asked for a more portable, better version in sharable code or as a widget, they do not respond - for days...
Wake Up eBay
Social Marketing should be your game, you should own this space like no other company because your roots are genetically ingrained with social marketing. People come to eBay to find the odd and strange and the unique sellers and buyers, they do not come to eBay to find WalMart.
Send one of your new executives to a social media conference, call somebody, do something... get a refresher course in what it is you do...