Social Commerce

Rules for the Revolution: Interview with Marcus Whitney, CTO and Co-founder, Moontoast

This is the second installment in a series entitled “Rules for the Revolution.” See the first installment here.

“You can show me your sales curve, plot my life on your flow chart, but there’s just some things that numbers can’t measure – matters of the heart.” – Bob Bennett

The above quote, taken from a song penned by singer/songwriter Bob Bennett back in the 80s, has applicability where social commerce is concerned. Marketing in this era is more about building a one-to-one relationship with individuals, and less about focusing on aggregate numbers.

Marcus Whitney, CTO and co-founder of social commerce platform MoontoastI’m not the only one who holds to that ethic either. So does the revolutionary being viewed under our microscope today, Marcus Whitney, CTO and co-founder of social commerce platform company, Moontoast.

Whitney qualifies as a revolutionary for this reason – he has a keen understanding of the problem that exists between how marketers use the web today as opposed to how consumers use it.

“The old web is basically broken for the way people consume it today. It  doesn’t respect the shift in power. Thanks to mobile technology, people have computers with them wherever they go, which gives them the ability to consume and post content wherever they are,” asserts Whitney. “There is a general lack of understanding among marketers about need to shift to more human mode of engagement.”

So radical are his revolutionary views, Whitney believes that, in light of the shift toward greater consumer control of the brand message and away from traditional marketing and advertising, the entire marketing vocabulary needs to change.

“Words like ‘consumers,’ ‘conversion’ and ‘traffic’ should be replaced with new ones like ‘interaction,’ and ‘conversation,’ and so should the metrics that surround them,” says Whitney.

Making use of this new vocabulary and analyzing insights gleaned from it is the primary focus of his company, Moontoast. “Our platform is one that distributes marketing messages, special offers and conversation starters across a wide range of social networks, then provides insight back to brand about how they are being perceived in those locations,” he states.

Distributed social commerce is the core component of the Moontoast platform, says Whitney. “We believe that, where social commerce is concerned, there is an undue focus on Facebook. It’s ‘social commerce,’ not just Facebook commerce and our platform is designed to reflect that mindset,” he added.

Social Commerce Nashville-Style

Based in the country music capital, Nashville, it comes as no surprise that Moontoast has made inroads into the music industry, working with labels like Big Machine Music and well-known artists such as Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire and the band Rascal Flatts.

“We enjoy a great advantage having had a start in the music industry in Nashville,” remarks Whitney. “MySpace set the trend that music/celebrity would drive popularization of social networks and Facebook and Twitter are not exempt from that.”

Whitney believes that social commerce holds particular appeal where the music industry is concerned. Rather than “Like” a Facebook page just to receive a special offer or download a coupon, music fans really want to hear from the artist. He is especially complimentary of McEntire’s efforts in social commerce. “Reba is impressive. She has incredible engagement with fans and weaves commerce in and out of the conversation very naturally,” he says.

Country music may have given Moontoast its start, but the company now works with popular artists from other genres – Kanye West, Chamillionaire, Nikki Sixx, Chris Young, and Gloriana, to name a few.

Social Commerce Perfect Storm

Whitney sees three trends that, in his view, indicate a perfect storm is brewing for a social commerce revolution to take place:

  • Growing interest in the topic;
  • The fast ascent of Google+;
  • Growth of mobile devices along with mobile payment capabilities.

He believes that a similar revolution took place in e-commerce years ago. “Ecommerce created more value in terms of time-savings, selection, convenience, and management of purchases,” he states. “Lacking deep inventory and outstanding customer service, it’s been difficult for brick and mortar stores to keep up.

Whitney says the next step is in the disintermediation of e-commerce and other forms of online marketing. “That’s where social commerce plays a role,” he states.

Whitney’s Rule for the Revolution

“The market is early, so set expectations accordingly. Initial campaigns are tests and learning exercises, and should not be done for the express purpose of generating revenue. Quite the opposite, revenue generation should be a goal you measure against for the purpose of learning.”

3 Comments Add New Comment

  1. love this quote:
    Words like ‘consumers,’ ‘conversion’ and ‘traffic’ should be replaced
    with new ones like ‘interaction,’ and ‘conversation,’ and so should the
    metrics that surround them

    hope you’ll fix this typo:
    special offers and conversation starters across a *wife* range of social

    whatever this cat is up to, i hope it brings back the 80’s!
    Nikki Sixx

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