Further comment on the Amazon – Goodreads marriage is emerging. This interesting take from Harvard Business Review by Paul Nunes and Josh Bellin discusses the holy grail for book marketing: Unique consumer comment.
Amazon.com announced last week that it would purchase Goodreads, a social network for bookworms. As the “world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations,” Goodreads can help make Amazon the definitive place to go for book-related information. But does Amazon really need that help? The company is already the biggest provider of book advice, with its top-secret personalized recommendation algorithms, trusted user reviews, and inside-the-cover previews. So what makes Goodreads such an attractive acquisition?
The answer, we believe, lies in the changing nature of advice-getting in the digital age. In recent years, many new sources of customer influence have become available thanks to technology advances, with significant new power to shape how customers think about products, services, and company reputations.
There have always been friends and family we trust, journalists and film critics we find credible, and publications like travel guides or Consumer Reports that we know are reliable. Today, we add to that a great deal more. We have the interactivity of social networks like Facebook and Pinterest, the consensus-building opinion aggregators like Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes, the objectivity of automated recommendation engines like those of Netflix and Pandora, and the comprehensiveness of price-comparison services like Priceline and Google Shopping. Through digital media, even the “old” forms of advice are now more accessible and more potentially viral than ever before. All told, consumers can get a far greater wealth of purchasing advice from their smartphone in an instant than they can from watching ads, listening to salespeople, or even chatting with friends at a dinner party. Our recent research into the subject revealed at least ten unique sources of advice, nearly all of which have been enabled or enhanced by digital media.
For me I am losing something here – what about the community features with Goodreads? Will Amazon ever niche its community forums to recognize people who review ovens and golf clubs are not experts on books? Will some kind of moderation ever be enforced on reviewers with no history of reviewing a category? I am not convinced this marriage will be an easy one. Let’s see what happens.