Facebook has reached a lot of milestones this year. Their stock has gone public and the recent announcement of 1 billion users and counting. With all this growth Facebook has taken it upon itself to create what some would say is a better offering for their users by testing the waters of what has been coined “fCommerce.” So, what does this mean for the future of social shopping?
Last year fCommerce saw bad press and its future seemed questionable with publicized, large brand storefronts shutting down. Over the past 6 months, we at ShopTab have gathered a lot of data, along with some of our competitors that prove to the social commerce naysayers that not only is Facebook shopping sticking around but it can yield dramatic results. Jump ahead to present day with the recent announcement that Facebook has decided to enter the social selling playing field with Gifting and Collections. This is great news for anyone with a Facebook store.
Now that Facebook itself has invested time and money into the social commerce experience we can all but speculate that the future of fCommerce is looking up. It began with Facebook’s new feature called Offers. Offers allow business owners to create a coupon inside of Facebook that consumers can claim virtually or in their brick and mortar stores. Not only does it allow the Facebook fan to be rewarded for “liking” their page, but it then places the coupon in their timeline allowing their friends to claim or view the coupon as well.
Recently, Facebook made an announcement that they’re testing out social Gifting. A few select clients have been chosen for users to purchase products from Facebook itself. Here’s a brief example of how it would work; the Facebook user sees a recommendation from Facebook when one of their friends is having a birthday. They would click on the Gift icon and they can choose from a variety of vendors that are testing the feature out. Everything is then taken care of through Facebook and the gift is virtually given, and the giver is notified when the gift is sent, card is read, and the gift is unwrapped.
The most recent announcement has been Facebook Collections. With the success of Pinterest, more and more, social spaces are starting to follow the concept of a “board.” To keep up, Facebook has implemented the use of Collections. Select companies can now place their product images inside a Collection, fans can view the Collections and interact with the images. They are given the option to “want” the image, which places the photo in their timeline. This will drive product sales based upon the social view of the desired gift.
The beauty of each new Facebook feature for businesses is the social awareness it brings to your products and brand. Whether you’re using an Offer, Gift, or Collection it generates a post for timeline that allows users to share, comment, or even click on the image to claim it as their own. The bigger question is how does all this validate a Facebook store option?
– Buying and selling will be a natural extension for users on Facebook after interacting with Facebook’s new features centered around commerce.
– Social Conversations will start to evolve around products and brands with ease.
– A Facebook shop is a persistent app you can use to build your marketing plan around. By incorporating the use of Facebook’s Offer and Collection around your Facebook store it gives your fans something concrete to consistently come back to.
We want to note that not every feature is available to everyone. Currently Gift, and Collections is in the testing phase. But this doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of Facebook’s other new features to promote your products and Facebook store to implement in your social marketing strategy. Here are a few quick tips and tricks to get started:
– Use Facebook’s Promoted or Targeted posts to promote a product announcement about a special offer or images.
– Think about devoting a part of your marketing budget to Facebook ad’s to help grow your audience. The targeting options allow you to connect with likely interested fans.
– Use a Facebook Offer to reward your fans. See what impact it provides to your sales or foot traffic.
– Lastly make sure you are optimizing your content. Check that your posts are engaging and not a sales pitch. Use imagery always.
Facebook’s new features are currently operating under a pay to play model. When creating your marketing plan think about the cost, and monitor your analytics avaiable to you to evaluate your R.O.I.
We think this change in commerce thinking by Facebook will bring new opportunities for savvy retailers. Will you be one of them?