Facebook's keynote was announced with pride by the eCommerce Expo 2011 organization. Seeing long queues in front of the keynote theater, from a visitor attraction perspective it was really a strategic move to have Ivan Heneghan at the expo. It seems online retailers are expecting a lot from Facebook, despite Miki Balin's message that Facebook just accounts for about 2% of the online turnover. Did Ivan manage to fulfill the high expectations?
The perceived Facebook magic
Ivan mentioned that the person at the Expo entrance started treating him like a celebrity after scanning his batch: "Are you the Facebook guy?". It just shows what people think of Facebook, but also what they expect! What magic does Facebook have to offer?
Social design has to bring the magic
By the end of the day Facebook won't bring the magic to you. You will have to attract people to your online store yourself. You will have to place your (potential) buyers in the center of your marketing activities. From that perspective you can decide what social tools to use. That's what Facebook means by being social by design.
Being social will stimulate the awareness of your products among the buyers through social sharing and recommendations.
Social design principles
Facebook recognizes the following social design principles:
- People first, content second: Of course it's important to have good content, but if it's not user focused it won't be as powerful. You will have to provide an experience instead of building a content sharing portal.
- Make sharing simple and fast: Enable users to tell their story about your product.
- A few can activate many: It's like a little snow ball. Your reach can extend fast through Facebook.
- Your friends are there: Show your visitors that their friends were there as well, it will give them a feeling they can trust your site.
Facebook offers different powerful tools
To achieve engagement with your consumers you shouldn't focus on a single tool only. It's important to think of integrating your own website to the tools Facebook offers. The following Facebook tools could be considered.
This allows you to reach to people, to connect and engage. Facebook has just launched new metrics, "Insights", for pages showing what is happening on your page. It clearly shows the total reach you have with your page.
2. Ads with friends
You can use Facebook ads to link directly to your website in the traditional way, but you can also link to your Facebook Page. Nielsen research shows that including the Facebook like button into these ads makes it a lot more likely for people to recognize the ad and that they will click-through.
3. Sponsored stories - word of mouth at scale
Consumers increasingly rely on their friends' opinions. Word of mouth is becoming increasingly important. Through Facebook you can easily make use of these facts:
- Someone likes something and shows this through clicking the Facebook Like button.
- Automatically a story is generated on his friends' news feeds.
- Include these stories into ads for increased conversion.
4. Social plug-ins
Facebook provides several social plugins to stimulate your users to tell their story. It's just a matter of adding the Like, Share and even more importantly, the Recommend button to your website.
5. Custom applications
The above mentioned tools all potentially lead to more traffic on your website. You can also go a step further and bring more functionality to Facebook. This will stimulate users to stay on your Facebook Page. For social minded people this could be a more preferred environment to engage with. A nice example is the Top 50 UK places app.
Build - engage - amplify
Summarizing, the Facebook story sounds very easy. You have to Build a fan page, Publish to fans and use Ads and Sponsored Stories to gain followers. But how can you make use of this to make social commerce work for you? Because, at the end of the day every shop just has to sell.
Facebook wants to allow consumers to share their buying journey in a light way. They can share it when they are interested in a brand, product or service and should be able to find out what their friends think about it.
The "ideal" social buying process looks like follows.
- Pre purchase: Discover products and services, among others through likes of friends.
- Post purchase: Share decisions and satisfaction with friends through stories. Recommend to others.
1. Build your social presence
Your first step to make use of the Facebook features should be building a Page and/or social plugins. Start two-way conversations with people, open up a dialogue, share information, let them respond.
When this is working, try to use ads to build your fan base. Use social plugins to enhance interaction on your page.
2. Engage by publishing to your fans
Set up a regular and frequent publishing calendar to prevent sending bullshit information. Create social experiences that are easy to share - images, video, questions/answers. Consider offering exclusive promotions to your followers, or inform them for example two days in advance about a certain promotion. Reward your followers.
Leverage your network and increase your influence by using Facebook Ads and plugins. Facebook ads, sponsored stories and social plugins let you communicate beyond your fan base because you can also reach out to your followers' friends. For every 50k fans, you have access to about 1M fans.
As mentioned before, it's really important that consumers can like your products because this will spread the news. Besides, you can use their likes in your ads as sponsored stories.
Measuring the Facebook impact
It's important to follow whether it's worth all the effort. Fortunately, Facebook provides you with a lot of Insights. Apart from the new Page Insights you can add Domain Insights as well. You will need to install a code on your webpage to gather the statistical data. Domain Insights will show you what products people like and recommend. It shows the site engagement through total actions and the distribution on Facebook, showing the referral traffic.
The Story is clear
The Facebook strategy is a story engine to enable us to share our opinions, among others about products and services, with our friends. For web shop owners it's a new way to easily reach out to more potential consumers. Although Facebook offers many tools to enable the story telling, it won't automatically generate business. You will have to develop your own social media strategy, you will have to become social by design! Depending on your target group it could bring some magic, but for many the Facebook tools will probably not have a significant impact in the near time.
What's your opinion about the Facebook approach? Are you sharing your opinion through Facebook? Feel free to share your opinion below or discuss with us on Twitter: @21webmerce.