Last week I mentioned Amazon Spark in the PR Week podcast I was on. I've since had a chance to become entrenched enough in the community to feel qualified to complain about it a bit. I mean, to offer constructive suggestions.
What is Amazon Spark?
Amazon Spark is the newest “social media” platform. It looks like Instagram and Pinterest had a baby. Users share pretty photos with descriptions. Other users look at the photos and “smile” or comment on them.
Some Differentiating Features
This is the most obvious difference between Amazon Spark and other social platforms. Amazon is selling to you, and they are not bashful about it in the least. This social media platform is for shoppers, by shoppers. And so they make it easy to buy. Instagram is notoriously unfriendly for hyperlinks, and while Pinterest allows linking out, Amazon makes the process of clicking through downright seamless. Users can tag specific products (sold on Amazon, of course) within Spark photos they upload. When someone clicks on the tag, a small product photo, description, and rating appears and one more tap brings you to the page to purchase the item. No one is wondering how Amazon is making revenue via this app.
With that, Amazon Spark is already heavy with #sponsored posts. I recognize a lot of the Sparklers(?) as heavy-hitters on Instagram. These are people with a proven track record in producing quality content, professionally. Amazon is doing something Instagram is not, though: while Instagram is shadow-banning, Amazon is throwing their support behind paid influencers. Sparklers are not eating away at ad revenue; they are actively encouraging sales via Amazon.
One of the influencers I reached out to very kindly told me he was not able to speak to press about his relationship with Amazon due to a contract he had signed, so naturally I was like, “Omigod you called me press that’s awesome.” I definitely intend to do some more digging around this though, so stay tuned.
The Feed Algorithm
Everyone is always talking about social media algorithms, namely why certain photos show up in your feed and others do not. Amazon Spark serves up a feed that seems to have less to do with whom you follow, and more to do with discovery. Users choose “interests” to follow, and Amazon delivers photos within those interest categories. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a an emphasis on number of followers at all - stats revolve around how many smiles and comments a user garners.
A Staff Pick is a pic the staff loves. They award a little gold trophy emoji, and presumably this boosts the picture’s reach. Going through recent Staff Picks photos shows that Amazon is looking for quality photography. Mirror-selfies of the shirt you just got out of the Amazon box will not cut it. They choose “bangers”--technically well-executed photos with subject matter that has broad appeal.
My Top 5 Early Suggestions
Have you tried Amazon Spark yet? What are your thoughts?
Blogging my path as a professional photojournalist / social media addict / influencer