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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Musings on Growing the Money Tree: Bonanzle, Facebook and Twitter

I have a little storefront on Bonanzle, and you can check it out if you've never visited before. I thought it would be nice to be involved in a community marketplace in addition to seling from my website, so about a year ago I set up my shop there. Bonanzle is a hybrid venue, a social marketplace. There are some great sellers there, wonderful, trustworthy merchants. And, there has been a year-long ongoing debate among them as to whether Bonanzle is a serious selling site, or chat and gamers lounge, or both, or neither.

Many of you have visited me there, and I know that some have experienced first-hand the cart that does not always function, the quirky search, and server glitches. And, I thank you all for your patience and willingness to find a creative, alternative way to make your purchases when necessary. Management has made many, many wonderful site improvements, and things do run smoother there today, although for me, with a large international clientelle, Bonanzle's checkout remains problematic. I've spoken with several savvy, vetran sellers just this week who still cannot lead a new international buyer thru the checkout process with 100% certainty. Ummm, lets think about that.

So I got to thinking, musing actually... why would a shopping venue not prioritize checkout, and shipping? The bells, whistles, hip and trendy trinkets that – cool as they are – don't make my customer's experience any easier, add no real value to my buyer. And, Bonanzle continues to applaud and encourage games in which members buy each other's wares rather than assist the business people who do most of their selling off site, to many seller's dismay. Google base, google anaylitics aside, and the seller tools and marketing tips, all common sense, thanx. I'm talking checkout issues. Always coming back to the debate as to whether Bonanzle is a serious selling site, social site, or both, or neither.

The latest set of Bonanzle improvements are links to Facebook and Twitter (yes, I use them both), and the directive is to use these tools to advertise the site, the perk being you will get a little bump in visibility on site in a prominently displayed panel of web communicators. Ummm, lets think about that, too. I'll let someone else blog about that...

This morning, as I paid my $10 fee for selling there last month I got to thinking... although my $10 is chump change, if I multiply that by the roughly 22,oo0 booths listed on the site, there'd be a revenue of $220,000 in final value fees for the month. Add in Plus and Premium memberships at $10 and $24 /month respectively and I would think that throwing a little money at the checkout glitches would be possible. Probable. A priority? Part of the plan for growing the Money Tree?

And, there might be enough left over so that the site could do some advertising of its own during the Holiday shopping season, now in full swing (on other venues at least). The natives are getting restless, some trees have born no fruit even in this Harvest Season. Again, fodder for someone else's blog, I'm not going there either. But here is where I am going:

Mark Zuckerberg, 23, is the founder of Facebook. His social networking site is at about 60 million users, with a projection of 200 million by the end of this year. It's estimated to be worth $15 billion. Yahoo! offered to buy Facebook in 2006 for $1 billion in cash. (Zuckerberg declined their offer). In 2007, Microsoft bought 1.6 percent of the company for $240 million.

But Facebook has yet to figure out how to make money off its huge audience. Facebook needs to find a way to generate revenue...

On Facebook, members get a dose of social interraction by playing imaginary games such as Mafia Wars, Castle Wars, members give gifts of crystals, flowers and cocktails while they chat. Then they tweet that did, and do, they announce it to the world. Sometimes I wake up to tens of gifts and offers to come play. I don't, but that's me. I'm not all that drawn to imaginary enemies or cyber trinkets and such.

Now here is my aha moment: On Bonanzle, members play games and the site takes a final value fee from each little happy social interraction, and members tweet to the world that the game is about to begin or end, oh my! The game is called "Shopping!" And, now they've created unique interface so that we can access Facebook and Twitter and never leave Bonanzle. Sticky isn't it?

Bonanzle has already figured out how to make money off its growing audience. Imagine if all the Mafia Wars players tuned in to "Tickle me Tuesday" or "Finding Friends on Friday"? There is a seemingly endless list of games to choose from. Why send your friends each an imaginary crystal from Facebook, when you can send them each a real one from Bonanzle for just a few dollars in the how-low-will-you-go LIMBO game?

Well, there you go. No crystal ball needed. A hybrid indeed, and the game is shopping. If Bonanzle can pull this one off, it will be the next best thing! The new big thing. The thing. The Money Tree. Tweet that, Facebook!

When you're chasing $15 billion, what's losing a few sales in Canada or the UK this holiday season? Unless you are a Canadian wanting multiple varieties of my Chinese Blooming Tea? If you are, just email me, together we'll figure it out.

We always do.

May you be blessed!


  1. Thank YOU Susan. Just signed up to follow your blog. A quandry it is. What to do is up in the air. I respect your business values and your wholeness to all life. I do not want to feel like I am going to get dirty playing in the mud on the B site. I used to feel so clean and fresh..what happened?

  2. Kudos, as always target direct and infinitely astute. I deeply respect your commentaries ~ always.


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  4. I've had SO many private thank-yous and expressions of gratitude for this post today, many from those who FEAR being attacked for voicing their weariness. I'm going to give you a voice. Basically you are saying that you are confused by being told to promote while Mgmt says they are not ready to promote because the site is not ready for an influx of buyers. You want to know when calculated shipping will be fixed. Invoices fixed. Checkout fixed. You are discouraged, and burnt out. And you are wondering why Mgmt does not announce to the world that Bonanzle, built by a grassroots community is alive, vibrant and a viable marketplace. You could use some support.I will say that for you.

  5. Yes, exactly how I feel Susan, and you say it so well. Thank YOU!


  6. Susan, Thank you again for your honest and candid comments and posts!

  7. My purpose for this post was an exploration of my own ideas and not a criticism of the trajectory the venue is taking. I want to make that clear. But, the management locked the on-site thread in which members were passionately discussing advertising strategies and the new features which I mention in my blog. If that conversation needs to continue here, that's OK, too. But I will add this: There have been a lot of questions posed, and the answer has been silence. Use that to your advantage. Meditate in the space you have been given, and perhaps you will find your own answers. Blessings, all.