Why I Really Wanted to Build Thinglink

Thinglink Edit Tags in PlaceI often run a little behind the curve. ThingLinkwas in private beta when I even started noodling with an idea of a product like this. I love their concept and implementation (Drat. Another fantasy idea outdone by real world products!)

Yet, there are two key components that I see as still missing for ThingLink – one a target market focus, the other a feedback loop. These two items are the difference between channels I’d want to pursue with the product and what I see in its current iteration. I feel these are essential to seal the commerce value of ThingLink, which appears to be the real win for this technology.

I’m sure the ThingLing team is already way ahead of me.

Context is King

West Coast Choppers bike - Amerikamura in Osak...

There’s a lot of energy and thought going into social commerce. People sharing what they want or just bought is fine, but that’s not going to make a material difference. The meaningful sharing will come when people share how they’ve used a product. Seeing products in context is so much more compelling. Think of how many movies inspired new smokers.

The alternative is like the writer who is intimidated staring at a blank screen and are told to write. There’s too much potential and too many options. As soon as some context is provided, it becomes so much easier. For years, I’ve worked on products that get customized for companies. In most cases, anything the client wants can be delivered but that’s an overwhelming prospect. As soon as we define, “this is what we do” the dialogue starts around tweaks the client finds most important – a much easier discussion to have.

ThingLink isn’t just the first step to showing your social network how you’ve used an item, it completes the thought. It connects content with context and ultimately to the source so the item can be bought.

Community Value of ThingLink

Thinglink is an ideal tool where visuals and the elements of what made that visual come together. Two immediate examples come to mind of communities that would embrace and enjoy this. Hot rodders and home decorators. These are both artists that create visions from, in many cases, off the shelf product. I’m not talking West Coast Choppers kind of guys, they’re in a league all their own, but the performance car drivers or Harley owners that are going to special order their next part.

If you’ve spent time figuring out a home renovation, you spend a lot of time scouring design sites, catalogs and books. The staged environments you see are inviting and compelling. Thinglink overcomes the limits of the traditional catalog because you’re not limited by the 5 – 7 text slots to pick the most attractive items, their details and price. Every element can be tagged and described to bring the item a user wants to them in a timely manner.

Give the Community a Voice

I discovered during my home renovation that regardless of how well documented the products were in the catalog or web site I was viewing, inevitably the product I wanted wasn’t listed. Which brings me to the product feature that I see as lacking in ThingLink – the customer communication loop. When an image is lacking a tag for the element they want more information on, users need to tag what they’re looking for if it’s not already tagged.

In these visual mediums, you need to close the loop with the user. Especially in a commerce application, like Thinglink, it’s vital.

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