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!