Sunday, February 19, 2012

Making Birthdays More Valuable and Following in Pinterest's Footsteps

Remember in grade school when you would pin a dollar to your shirt to signify that it was your birthday?  Your classmates would give you more dollar bills, and you would have the whole day to add to your collection.  (Maybe you don't; it's not everybody's tradition, and it wasn't mine, but it was the tradition of some people in my school.)  The other day, I had an idea:  the digital equivalent of dollar pinning.  Amazon and iTunes allow users to gift some very inexpensive items (with prices as low as 69 cents).  I don't know whether people are taking advantage of this for their friends' birthdays, but if they are, the return probably doesn't come close to that of the dollar pinning method.  Facebook reminds you of friends' birthdays, and suggests you say "happy birthday"; couldn't the site also suggest you buy your friend a song?  A partnership between Facebook and Amazon, for instance, could make this come to life.  A popular birthday celebrant could easily hit an annual jackpot of 20 songs if this caught on (or not: define "caught on").  What matters is not whether it would catch on, however; what matters is that it would be kind of cool.  And, it would make money for Facebook using a method the company probably hasn't used before (until perhaps recently), a method akin to Pinterest's model.

Pinterest makes money when a user shares a "cute set of tea cups" on the site; if the "pin" links to an e-commerce site with an affiliate program, Pinterest adds its own tracking code to the link (using a service called Skimlinks).  The company's practice was uncovered recently by LLSocial.  Facebook might be using a similar system to make money from some of its "frictionless sharing" partners.  I contacted Spotify, but I was told the company does not comment on its finances or commercial relationships.

February 28 is my birthday.  Happy birthday to you, if your birthday is also in February.

Update December 29, 2012:

  This wasn't a prediction, so I can't say I called it, but…