Wake Up eBay – Sharing Links, Social Marketing Good – Closed Networks Fail

eBayeBay 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.

Trading Assistant

TA Board

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…

I went to a service online called

(Follow the button above to see the results)

Education SpecialistOnce 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…

Closing off all linking from your site is a really really bad move.

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0 Responses to Wake Up eBay – Sharing Links, Social Marketing Good – Closed Networks Fail

  1. Cliff Aliperti May 22, 2008 at 4:41 pm #


    I can see both sides here. I’m really irritated that I lose my ME page and will probably have to edit a couple of thousand auctions too, but I’ve honestly expected this for a long time and was surprised they waited so long to do it after the launch of their MySpace imitation pages (MyWorld).

    But at the same time, none of the other major sites that I shop online have outside links either. Not that I can think of: Amazon, Circuit City, BestBuy, Kohls, Newegg, etc., etc. I’m very possibly wrong about some of those, but the trend seems to be to allow user forums and then create the content themselves.

    Perhaps my misunderstanding is because I see eBay as a retail market more in line with those I mention above, than as any kind of social network or…and here’s their terminology causing the problem …community.

    I think this is a similar case to the removal of negative feedback for buyers “fiasco” — eBay was one of the few allowing something like this in the first place, and now they’ve corrected what they must have viewed as a mistake or an inconsistency.

    Again, personally don’t like it all, totally understand it though.

  2. Scott Pooler May 22, 2008 at 4:56 pm #


    eBay is not like any of the other merchants you mentioned. eBay is a venue, a social experience, a marketplace and even an addiction for some. It is the essence of social marketing, or was…

    For eBay to act like Kohls or Circuit City is to say Google should act like Comcast… They are apples and oranges.

    eBay relies on the power of the network to generate their fee “take”. That take has been dwindling and the growth of eBay has been slowing dramatically. Responding with draconian back to the dark ages non-social policies is a serious mistake in my book. It amazes me they just released the facebook app considering how backwards they are with the rest of the social marking thing these days.

    eBay “My World” will never replace or even compete with MySpace or facebook. They simply do not have the capability, especially when you consider the amount of links and back links they miss out on with this new policy.

    It’s really a shame – eBay is not Sears or Circuit City or Amazon, eBay is eBay and to mold it into a standard retailer will be like watching AOL shrivel up and atrophy into what we see now…

    Save eBay – Open the links!

  3. Cliff Aliperti May 22, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    I completely agree that eBay is not CC or Sears, just using them as examples (though I have a feeling that very soon eBay = Amazon and Amazon = eBay). By the same token they’re not MySpace or YouTube or any of the purely social sites.

    Perhaps that’s responsible for a good deal of the emotion — nobody else is really like them.

    I completely agree with you about the silly MyWorld and hope my original comments didn’t imply they ever would (I don’t think I’ve even logged into my page).

    Personally I wish they would innovate instead of building their own version of popular applications. (How long before eBay tweets?)

    My original comment was meant more to defend eBay’s perspective than their actions.

    I think they want to “grow up” and act like the other sites, including some of those I mentioned.

    Sadly, what you say in your last line about AOL could be the end result.

    My hope is that they turn out to be right about the majority of their changes, So far, I like most of what I see. I don’t want to lose this marketplace.

  4. Randy Smythe May 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    Cliff, you know where I come from on this. I think Scot is correct.

    eBay wants to put on its “big boy” retailer pants and it just isn’t going to work.

    I will say this flatly these changes will not achieve the desired results. They won’t kill eBay but they will marginalize it.

    Just my 12%

  5. Cliff Aliperti May 22, 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    Scott, Randy,

    One thing I have to wonder regarding the link policy — yes, it sucks, but does it make much of a difference?

    I never bothered checking my own stats on it (too busy!), but how many people were actually taking the trouble of clicking on a seller’s me page and then clicking yet again to their personal site? 2 clicks, from what I’ve been told, casual shoppers don’t like that.

    I’ve seen some Me pages constructed pretty well, where I wasn’t even sure if I wound up on eBay or the seller’s own site (probably a confusion that eBay wants to see disappear), and I’ll check myself most of the times, but I’m a curious sort.

    I wonder what percentage of sellers even had outgoing links on their ME pages, and on top of that what percentage knew that you could do this prior to this new change.

    I’d love to see some stats on outgoing clicks from eBay.

    Again though, the biggest surprise to me is that this took so long — beyond the recent My World that I mentioned, I thought they would phase this out years ago back when they banned .com’s in the ID’s. So basically, I’ve been expecting this for like, 6-7 years, it bugs me, it effects me, but it doesn’t surprise me, so I’m not totally up in arms over it.

  6. Henrietta May 25, 2008 at 4:27 am #


    I am a small retailer. I do not believe eBay=Amazon will ever happen. eBay-trying-to-be=Amazon yes.

    Amazon is run by retailers. eBay is managed by MBAs. My choice of words is deliberate.

    Amazon rules it’s sellers, there is no room for misunderstanding. The policies are fair and leave room for a seller to make a profit. The site is well designed and relatively trouble free. Customer service is superb. There are no Non Paying Buyers.

    eBay puts out deceptive corporate waffle, makes arbitrary policy changes frequently and is prone to vast errors in judgment. The platform is a glitchy mess. Customer service is NOT. Many sellers are running about 10% NPB and it is getting worse. A NPB can leave negative for sellers, and does. Getting your FVF back is time consuming and not always successful. Ditto for the negative.

    eBay is actively hostile to sellers, constantly denigrating and always looking for the worst. Only on eBay could you have the Director of Global Feedback Policy making the utterly inane statement “we think that recent performance and activity is a much better indicator of what a buyer can expect to experience than a performance rating from 7-8 years ago” and believe it. Someone who has kept an exemplary record, multiple repeat buyers, no negatives given or received, month after month for years and years is not trustworthy or deserving of seller protections. A powerseller using a like for like automated feedback program scattering retaliatory feedback like confetti is trustworthy and has a track-record.

    eBay is all about eBay and there are many more suckers down the road to replace sellers who give up, until they run out.

  7. sergio July 29, 2008 at 5:45 pm #

    ebay/paypal are in the midst of the largest onslot of legal suits against them in their history, undergoing an enormous numbers of bad press releases, scrutiny concerning the way they calculate sell through rates, suspicion with their ties to counterfeit items and Liquidity Services, major backlashes from users around the world as a result of numerous mis-steps and detrimental policy changes, a severely damaged reputation due to their defeated plan to force all Australian to accept only Paypal, tanking stocks and an ongoing global boycott, all under the direction of a new coporate venturalist with transparent visions of dumping it’s auction base in exchange for an already saturated market of a new venue of fixed price items.

    Greed has caused the detruction many of history’s greatest entities. ebay/Paypal are following that same path, with their pockets full, blinders on and an insatiable appetite for more. There will be no pot of gold at the end of their journey.

  8. sergio July 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    ebay execs shuffling of their personal shares of ebay inc. and company buy backs are also certainly enough to make any analyst or shareholder realize there is something amiss at ebay.

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