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eBay Patents Smart Hashtags for Social Shopping

In launching a new feature, eBay revealed it has filed a patent for what it calls smart hashtags for use on social networking sites such as Twitter. But of equal interest was eBay’s revelation that it has a “Social Insights Strategist” on staff.

Now when eBay shoppers click on a Twitter “Tweet” or Pinterest “Pin It” button on certain listings to share the products on social networking sites, eBay adds hashtags to the message. eBay called it a subtle way of dropping commerce into the social conversation in a non-obtrusive and user-friendly way.

eBay explained the smart hashtag feature: “A text box will immediately pop up with the page’s shareable link, a test phrase or product title, and one to three of the titular “smart hashtags.” The phrases – set aside with a hash mark (#) – are optimized to highlight relevant and searchable information for easier discovery.”

Clicking on the Tweet button on an eBay listing with the title, “VERA BRADLEY REVERSIBLE TOTE – CALL ME CORAL – 10912-056 (NWT)” resulted in a Tweet, “Check out VERA BRADLEY REVERSIBLE TOTE – CALL ME CORAL – 10912-056 (NWT) #VeraBradley #TotesShoppers http://r.ebay.com/v5yXt7 via @eBay.” In that case, the two hashtags are VeraBradley and TotesShoppers.

People then viewing those messages on Twitter or Pinterest can click on the hashtags and see additional messages that share those hashtags.

Social hashtags help users not only curate their own shopping experience, but also discover new personalized products, the marketplace said.

eBay Social Insights Strategist Corinne Sherman came up with the idea as part of her job to study both internal and external social data and behavior. Sherman said she wanted to leverage “social data in an innovative way to enhance what people were sharing, while simultaneously enabling customers to more easily discover products of their interest.” Further, she said, “It capitalizes on consumer behavior – and leads us toward a new path I like to call Social Network Optimization.”

eBay said users should also be on the lookout for several iterations of the product throughout the year, as the Product group teams up with the eBay Research Labs and eBay Data Research Labs to maximize Smart Hashtag’s utility.

eBay announced the feature on the eBay blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.