Beginning in 2011, Social Commerce and Facebook Store applications were the hot topics for every social marketing research study or E-commerce industry conference. Twelve months later we’re hearing about the recent shuttering of a few large brand Facebook shops. What is the future of social selling—is it an incremental channel opportunity, or a waste of time?
Our perspective is that the recent news is the typical bump in the road when technology delivery gets ahead of marketing strategy. Didn’t we experience the same situation with eCommerce at the turn of the century? According to Forrester, eCommerce will make up over $200 billion of revenues in the U.S in 2012—over 10% of all purchases (excluding groceries). I think we would all agree we’ve moved past the early road bumps and naysayers of online commerce. It’s likely that the recent efforts by the industry vendors and their associated success stories will bear out the projections that Social Commerce will make up 10 to 20% of E-Commerce revenues.
So what does this mean for your business? Let’s be clear—simply putting up a Facebook store and expecting immediate and significant revenues likely won’t work. Retailers that have seen good success are tapping into the “social” elements of networks like Facebook and turning them in to opportunities to promote their existing products, launch new offerings and expand their base of clients. And yes, they are getting hard dollar return on their social marketing efforts by selling products! The magic isn’t in the Facebook store application; it is in the marketing plan and tactics that drives the users to know about your products, promotions and packaging that have been uniquely defined for their fans and followers.
Putting together a social marketing plans and following Facebook shop best practices is critical. Once those are in place, it is time to focus on the key tactics that will help you to meet your social commerce goals. For example:
- Create a daily or weekly “deal” that is only available in Facebook, pin it to the top of your timeline
- Ask your users to post a picture with your product, provide a giveaway for the best post
- Give out a special coupon code to your Facebook users inside of your store or give them access to a printable coupon for in-store purchases
- Launch a product and make it available for a period of time only in Facebook
Imagine the impact of these tactics as they are shared with the friends of your fans and followers.
Social commerce can be the real deal for retailers that are committed to their social marketing plans. What do you think is the future of social commerce? Let us know in the comments!
Any social media pro can tell you that every business owner asks them the same question: “How can I get more Facebook fans?”
There are lots of answers. Post on your wall more often, or less often, or support your page with ads (hold on to that last thought). But from where I sit, many people running Facebook Pages are missing an easy answer:
The surest way to get more Facebook fans may be to get more customers.
It seems backward, right? Plenty of businesses are after more fans assuming they can turn them into new customers. What these enthusiastic business owners could be missing, though, is that Facebook is at its heart a retention and a loyalty platform—not an acquisition tool.
The harsh truth is that unless you’re Taylor Swift or MTV, it’s unlikely that huge numbers of people will find your Page. You’re another grain of sand on the vast beaches of Facebook—which now has between 35-40 million Pages—and unless you’re investing in ads there’s probably only one group that’s going to find your Page, and then care enough to Like it: Your customers. Your loyal, wonderful customers.
The numbers back it up, too. DDB’s 2010 social media survey found that, on average, 84% of a Page’s fans are existing customers. Trying to convert all your fans into customers might thus be a waste of your time (and theirs, too).
But that problem is just an opportunity to refocus your efforts. Instead of focusing on sales messages, try using Facebook the same way you run an email campaign. Post about new products. Get feedback from your most dedicated advocates about what features they’re looking for. Make your Facebook Page a focus group for everything about your brand, and you just might get more value than if you drum up a few thousand fans who never intend to buy from you.
The best candidates to buy from your store are likely those who have bought before—and even better are those who also decided they like you enough to, well, Like you. Using social media for retention lets you focus on generating repeat buys. For many businesses, a majority of sales (sometimes as much as 80%) come from repeat customers, and yet this group tends to be overlooked. It’s true in theory that repeat customers are cheaper to serve than new customers; it’s also true in real life.
In fact, your best bet for acquiring new customers via Facebook may be to post content that these loyal customers share with their friends—thus mobilizing your customers/fans as a team of brand advocates.
So before you go investing your whole marketing budget in Facebook ads to get new fans, consider reaching out to your customers first. Let them be the core of your Facebook fan base. Then decide if you have enough to offer to non-customers (good content from a blog, for example) to even try to get them on board. You might be happier talking to just your loyal, happy buyers and focusing on bringing them back to your store.
And while you’re at it, you should go Like Amazon Webstore on Facebook. We, uh, need more fans.