The Original Social Network... A Wedding Registry?
A few weeks ago Walmart bought a social media company called Kosmix, which will join Walmart's social media team @WalmartLabs. The Kosmix platform specializes in analyzing social media streams and delivering personalized results to individual users. It will be interesting to see what Walmart does with it, but we already have a few good examples of social media working for retailers. In fact, there is a model that retailers have been using for years: wedding registries. If you think about it, a couple lists gifts that they would like, and their network of friends and family can see it and interact with it by selecting items and seeing what has already been bought.
Walmart's wedding registry feature seems pretty basic, and doesn't appear to involve anything particularly social. Target has a very in-depth wedding registry program including a Club Wedd Mobile App, and a call to action to ask your Facebook friends you should get, but as far as I can tell, there is no social aspect actually built into the registry. Best Buy has a Wish List that you can send via email, but that doesn't seem to be integrated with any social networks either.
The closest thing I have seen to the whole package is the website gdgt.com, founded by former Engadget editors Peter Rojas and Ryan Block. I hope gdgt users aren't cringing because I just compared the site to a wedding registry. But hear me out: at its basic level, users can list all of the electronics that they have, and those that they want. There are plenty of other features to gdgt that draw people in, but if social media is going to benefit a retailer, the bottom line is that it has to get a person to buy items and then convince that person's network of friends to buy as well.