Amazon launched a new feature today that allows Prime members to post stories to a feed, similar to those popular social networks.
Called “Amazon Spark,” it’s a photo-focused feed with posts that direct users to products available for sale on Amazon.com. Anyone can scroll through Amazon Spark but only Prime members can post as “Enthusiasts,” according to TechCrunch, which first reported the news. The posts often read like product reviews but they’re designed to draw users in with engaging photos.
Amazon Spark is accessible through the Amazon iOS app. To use the new tool, select “Programs & Features” in the app’s menu. From there, the app will prompt you to select at least five interests to curate the feed to your tastes.
Photos in the feed that have a shopping bag icon link to product pages on Amazon. Users can react to the posts with “smiles” — Amazon’s equivalent to likes — and comments.
By clicking the name of an “Enthusiast” who posts to Spark, you’ll be directed to their Amazon profile. The profile, which historically hasn’t been an especially public-facing Amazon feature, includes past reviews, other Spark posts, personal information, and links to the user’s Amazon Wishlist.
Amazon Spark is notable because it’s one of the company’s first forays into social media. Amazon is known for using unconventional media to sell products and promote its Prime membership program, branching out into original video content, music streaming, and other fields.
The strategy has become a bit of a running joke for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. He’s fond of saying variations of, “I’m pretty sure we’re the first company to have figured out how to make winning a Golden Globe pay off in increased sales of power tools and baby wipes!”
In the case of Amazon Spark, the connection to the Seattle tech giant’s e-commerce platform is more explicit. It could also serve a new way to reward reviewers and highlight them as influencers in the Amazon ecosystem.