How Facebook Is Changing The Face Of Ecommerce
Facebook Founder and Chief Executive Office Mark Zuckerberg describes Facebook as a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, families and coworkers. Indeed, Facebook is so much more than a social network. As a social utility, it changes the dynamics of relationships, how we communicate with one another, and how we discover, share and learn. Facebook and Social Media are redesigning the information super highway, forever altering how information travels and how people connect. The world is literally becoming a much smaller place and as a result, businesses are forced to compete for attention where it’s focused. Otherwise, the concepts of Digital Darwinism and the need to Engage or Die most certainly become reality – out of sight, out of mind.
If Facebook is a social utility then we can use it to engage, to foster a thriving community where its denizens expect information to find them. The future of business is social and it’s giving rise to a new genre of connected consumers who are becoming influential in their own right.
As a platform, Facebook invites businesses to build a presence and design an engagement architecture that introduces a new opportunity to also grow in prominence and connections, thus defining, and socializing, the next chapter in business. A chapter where commonplace terms such as share, like, comment, and add become the pillars for triggering a social tsunami of meaningful business touchpoints and outcomes.
From E-Commerce to F-Commerce
It’s not about simply having a presence, it’s about fostering relationships with people and the varying contingents of consumerism they represent.
As such, Facebook brings to the life the need to integrate a 5th P into the marketing mix, People. And, with the rise of the social consumer, Facebook and social media in general, also introduce a new “C” into the four C’s of community, Commerce.
While it may appear that we’re progressing through the alphabet here, from “E” to “F,” Facebook represents an important platform to engage and activate the social consumer. F-commerce is the ability to execute transactions in Facebook without leaving the network or leveraging the open graph by integrating Facebook into traditional site-based e-commerce platforms. And more importantly, it ties each transaction to the social graph. With each exchange, an update is broadcast to the news feed of their contacts. This potentially sparks a social effect and ultimately may influence impressions and decisions over time.
For example, Levi’s introduced a “Friends Store” on its website which showcases the jeans that your friends have liked and also allows you to share the jeans you “like.” This introduces a peer-to-peer influence model where we influence and are influenced by those we trust. Levi’s is betting the denim that the more we interact within its Friends Store, the more people we will be introduced to it simply through our interaction. Doing so creates a bridge between the web and social web, content and relationships, thus socializing the objects that move us.
The natural step for Levi’s is to also recreate that experience within Facebook. With Facebook Tabs, the opportunity to create a Friends Store within Facebook exists now as does the means to introduce a sophisticated, engaging, and fully-functional storefront. There is debate as to why brands would willfully sacrifice traffic to its dotcom. In my experience, this comes down to the unique touchpoints that connect brands to traditional consumers and social consumers respectively. With the social consumer, attention comes at a premium and there are great advantages in capturing attention where and when it’s focused.
1-800-Flowers.com hosts a shoplet within Facebook where consumers can browse through arrangements and order without leaving Facebook.
Earlier this year, P&G experimented with a storefront for Pantene, where consumers could purchase products before they were introduced in stores. Not only did this approach integrate F-commerce into the social equation, it satisfied two of the top reasons consumers consistently report why they “follow” and “like” brands in social media: access to exclusive products and rewards or discounts as a benefit of the connection.
As in computing, hitting the keys “ALT TAB” allows us to switch the windows we have open on the desktop. In Facebook, Tabs unlock Facebook’s customization features. Whereas storefronts can take residence as a designated destination within the Facebook brand page, additional tabs can offer discrete engagement opportunities to appeal to the diverse roles of social consumers. Like traditional web sites, tabs are the social web pages for dedicated experiences. And, not everything has to be related to marketing or promotions.
While we see many companies using tabs to increase Likes through contests and promotions, the effect of tabs are limited only by vision, creativity, and execution.Most notably, each tab can assume the position of a landing page which is intended to visualize the most current initiatives for each brand whether it’s aimed at existing or new “likes” or both. Meaning, tabs are assignable as landing pages, rather than sending people directly to The Wall, where specific content, stories, or programs are presented upon visiting the brand page.
The Facebook presence architected by Dunkin’ Donuts is designed to serve a variety of business objectives. The current landing page is promoting the “Ultimate DD Coffee Fan Contest.”
Just to the right of the this tab, DD presents Marice, a creative application that brings an espresso bean to life and encourages you to customize messages to send to friends.
To encourage customer advocacy and loyalty, DD includes a landing page for its DDPerks program. Again, the experience is maintained within Facebook. This program can scale should DD desire, to include an all-inclusive database that allows customers to access their DD account in Facebook.
I should also note, that DD also uses the left side of the page to recognize its fan of the week. Spotlighting customers is among the most appreciated and effective social sparks that ignite beneficial sharing and conversations.
This is merely a small taste of what’s possible with the structured customization Facebook supports. Perhaps one of the most understated aspects of tabs is that FBML supports website analytics code from major publishers. In my work, we often use Google Analytics to measure the activity of each page and how visitors interact and travel to and from the Brand Page.
Ford set a new standard this year when it officially announced its new Explorer models exclusively on Facebook rather than via a traditional industry auto show. Designed specifically for Facebook, Ford’s Reveal told a human story, led by the people who helped create the new line of Explorers. The customized tab served as the social epicenter for Ford around the launch, and each hour throughout the day, new content was introduced. Ads, Websites, etc, all pointed to Facebook and thus, triggered the social effect that sparked conversations, reactions, and traditional buzz both online and offline. Ford’s head of Social Media states that the Reveal campaign outperformed a Super Bowl in terms of reach, presence, and activity for a fraction of the price.
Madison Ave. is Moving to California Ave.
Contrary to popular opinion, Facebook ads do indeed work. In fact, when designed with relevance to specific social graphs and actively managed, Facebook ads perform extremely well. As in anything, there are best practices that one can follow, but in the end, it takes an intrinsic understanding of the people you’re trying to reach and what compels them to click, understanding that in a network where people are at the center of their own egosystem, personalization and incentives serve as pivotal social hooks. Remember, it’s not about who Likes you today, it’s about reaching those individuals who represent tomorrow’s Likes. And, it’s perpetual.
I’m currently running a diverse ad campaign for a client where each of the pages on the Brand Page benefits from a series of ads designed to spark interest in designated content and experience inherent within each. For this program, we created a rotating campaign of 29 pieces of engaging creative that changes weekly or every other week – depending on performance. I might add that we are on a tight budget, so conversions are key to ensuring the longevity of the program. Thus, I monitor conversions not only from clicks to Likes (C2L), but also conversions of Likes to Actions (L2A). Each page is intended to spur a unique action and is embedded in the experience. Using conversion science, we can change or enhance ads and each tab to improve performance.
Realizing that Likes and engagement trigger the social effect, companies like Starbucks employ a 360 strategy to improve the vibrancy and presence of its social Brand Page.
1. Create a unique experience that appeals to a variety of social consumers
2. Advertise to increase Likes, engagements, and actions
3. Maintain an active editorial and programming calendar that earns Likes and fosters and rewards engagement
This recipe is good enough to earn Starbucks the number 10 spot for Liked brands on Facebook according to Fan Page List with over 16 million Likes.
In the social web, no brand is an island. It is the responsibility of businesses now to build bridges between attention, value, and relationships. Facebook provides a powerful platform to host lively branded hubs that effectually connect social consumers. It should not go unsaid. To succeed in business, it is necessary to host active presences on both the Web and the social web. The reality is that our audiences are unique and the traditional and social consumer is motivated and influenced uniquely. It is our job to earn their attention, their business, and ultimately their loyalty and advocacy however and wherever their attention is focused. The question is however, once you have their attention, what are you going to do with it?
About the Author: Brian Solis is principal at FutureWorks PR, an award-winning PR and Social Media agency founded in 1999. FW PR bridges the communications gap between companies and their customers, and between products and their specific benefits for their target markets. Solis blogs at PR2.0, http://www.briansolis.com, and regularly contributes to many industry trades. He is also frequently quoted in articles relating to technology trends and Marketing/PR strategies.