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Five Things Publishers Can Learn from Wanelo

July 3, 2013

What’s Wanelo, you ask? Short answer: It’s social commerce.

Wanelo, (a sort of portmanteau of Want, Need, Love) is a social shopping service started by CEO Deena Varshavskaya. In November of 2012, the site had 1 million registered users. By May of 2013, it had 8 million users. Eliza Kern points out in her Gigaom post that this . . .

wouldn’t mean much, except those users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Wanelo . . . That is a lot of time, especially when you consider that people spend about 30 minutes a day on Facebook. And it’s promising if Wanelo can continue growing at that existing rate.”

Wanelo has gained a lot of traction and significant backing from savvy investors including Naval Ravikant. Not bad for a site started by one bright woman without a technical partner—and one employee (her younger sister).

Wanelo has built an enthusiastic following among teen and 20-something girls who love to shop. Users can search for items, comment on them, share and discuss the items and follow other users who share their interests. They can also follow certain categories.  The site has been likened to Pinterest, but one of the primary differences between the two (aside from age demographic) is that everything on Wanelo is for sale.  Users can follow a link to the site where they can purchase any item of interest.

How You Can Follow Wanelo’s Lead:

Shape Tomorrow’s Advertising Models with Today’s Content Marketing

Firstly, Wanelo is based on the premise that tomorrow’s advertising landscape is vastly different than today’s. In her interview with Kern, Varshavskaya said,

“I’m naturally scanning the environment looking for problems. And the genesis of Wanelo is thinking about the future of advertising, and quickly concluding that advertising as it is today does not make sense as you think about the future. It doesn’t create value for the user, and I think that intuitively, technology empowers the individual.” She goes on to argue that brands can stay relevant if they think about their content the way media companies do: put it first.

If it isn't yet, this should be a foundational principle in your content marketing strategy: Create value for the user--and focus on quality content. 

Visualize Your Words

Let’s face it; the world is getting more and more visual. Images and video equate deeper audience engagement. It’s a cornerstone of strong web design and social media. Some even claim it’s the new universal language. Wanelo capitalizes on this by providing an image-centric experience that users can tailor with their own preferences.

Know (and speak to) Your Audience

Simply put, Wanelo gets its demographic. Whether it’s the phraseology (millennial speak) the site uses to communicate about ideas or issues or the medium (video chat)—users identify with it and the people behind the site.

Make Mobile a Priority

There are plenty of numbers that indicate the steady rise of mobile use—but that isn’t the only indication of why going mobile is a good idea.  Wanelo wasted no time in producing a mobile app—and that app is attributed to a significant part of the company’s growth.

Back in March, Forbes reported that the Wanelo app was number one in the iOS App Store, above Amazon and eBay, and with 30,000 ratings—the average was 5 stars.

Think Monetization

Wanelo holds a lot of potential for monetization—and those options follow the lines of the new world of advertising. For example, stores or brands can create and manage their own stores within Wanelo. Ultimately, brands get more exposure and direct interaction with users, while commerce stays on the site. Think buyer’s guides and commerce all in one . . .

Wanelo may not represent your publication’s demographic, but it certainly reflects the times. So, when you think content marketing, think what one of their users might say:  Think “Wanelo,” not “Whatever.”