Social Media Startup News

The Fancy: Meet the First Social Network to Turn Desired Items into Acquired Items

July 13, 2012

It’s been a big week over at The Fancy. The red hot social sharing startup just celebrated notching its one millionth user and launched an affiliate program that is helping further its mission to do what chief rival Pinterest cannot — and that’s generating revenue from shares.

Image via Fast Company
As Pinterest continues to build momentum and overtake referral traffic from the biggest players in social, marketers will want to remain informed on additional emerging platforms that hold the same opportunities. The Fancy is currently a tenth of the size of Pinterest, but its strides in tying e-commerce to content curation and sharing signifies a much larger theme: the ability of social to move consumers from inspiration to aspiration to acquisition.

The Fancy 101: Sharable, Social Commerce

The Fancy is a social e-commerce site aimed at becoming the best of all worlds. It is part blog, part store, part inspiration board/wish list and part social network. Users curate their tastes and inspirations from across the web using the “Fancy It” bookmarklet or by manually uploading images to the site. Unlike Pinterest, The Fancy boasts an integrated e-commerce offering, which keeps the entire shopping experience within the site. (The Fancy takes a small percentage of every purchase completed on the site.)

The Fancy vs. The Field – How Do Other Networks Compare?

While its similarities to Pinterest are apparent (both are real-time, aggregated treasure chests of user self-expression), those familiar with platforms like Tumblr and Svpply can easily spot the similarities in the user feeds and profiles.

The most compelling difference between The Fancy and similar networks is its unique e-commerce functionality. A recent study found that one in three Pinterest users made a purchase after seeing something on the site – but these transactions are made outside of the platform. Someone who uses The Fancy can buy items without ever leaving the site.

While The Fancy takes a cut of purchases made within the site, the retailers and the platform itself are not the only ones who stand to profit. A newly launched affiliate program gives individuals an opportunity to receive 2 percent of the sale price of a product. Every time a user “Fancy’s” a product, they receive a unique referral link. If someone purchases the product via that referral link, the user receives a discount of the sale price.

While 2 percent may not be large enough to get affiliate marketers chomping at the bit, it may be enough to growth The Fancy’s user base by rewarding influential users. According to Mashable, the site claims to be raking in $70,000 in sales per week, up from $50,000 per week in May. This may have been boosted by their recent expansion into mobile commerce, as well as a partnership with Oscar de la Renta.

What are the Opportunities for Brands?

As is the case when evaluating any emerging opportunity, brands will be most successful if they evaluate the opportunity through a strategic lens. Does the platform align with your marketing goals? Does it leverage your arsenal? Are your consumers active there? Is there a value exchange between your brand and the consumer? For some brands – retailers in particular – dipping your toes in The Fancy will likely make sense. Although most of the site’s early adopters have been luxury retailers, there is no reason why non-luxury brands could get in the game as well. Below are three key opportunities for brands:

  1. Deals and Partnerships – Retailers should already be looking to claim their products that may already be “Fancy’d” on the site. Once claimed, these items can then be added to the “Stores and Brands on Fancy” list, which makes searching for products and brands extremely simple for users. The Fancy has a “Deals” section within the site that encourages users to check out brand retail sites and “Fancy” their products. Once users add a specific amount of inventory to their profiles, they can unlock various rewards and discounts to be used on the site. Brands can reach out to The Fancy to learn more about partnership opportunities.
  2. Exclusive Product Offerings – As is the case with The Fancy’s partnership with Oscar de la Renta, retailers have an opportunity to create exclusive purchasing opportunities. Luxury goods abound on The Fancy, so brands that live within this space will be blessed with a tailor-made audience for their products. Giving consumers an opportunity for exclusive product offerings from high-end brands will only add to the brand’s luxury equity.
  3. Badges – The ability to earn badges for curation and power usage separates the passive and active users. Brands should look to target these active users as they are more than likely to be passionate for the products they’re sharing and could become great advocates for the brand.

Whether The Fancy can achieve the scale of Pinterest or Tumblr is yet to be seen, but its cadre of celebrity and influential backers could undoubtedly help bolster its growth. The door is wide open for a brand to create a meaningful program with The Fancy. Who do you think is best suited for a partnership with the site?