F-commerce (Facebook retail) is new and experimental.  Nevertheless, a number of industry experts and commentators have been bold enough to venture some tentative emerging best practice recommendations.  Here’s a round up.

Our top takeout, is that if there’s one concept that unites many of the recommendations, it’s the importance of exclusivity - selling something uniquely different on Facebook may be a prerequisite to f-commerce success.  Just selling the same stuff, in the same way and at the same price as you sell elsewhere will doom you to f-commerce failure – so if that’s your plan – don’t bother. We concur.

Paul Marsden (Social Commerce Today)

    1. Smart f-commerce is about fan-stores (not factory-stores or convenience stores); offer a limited number of exclusive fan-first/fan-only items, along with fan-merchandise
    2. Use Facebook fan-stores as part of your pop-up retail and event-marketing strategy; temporary ‘tryvertising’ fan-stores that get new products into the hands and on the lips of your fans
    3. Use the advocacy activation formula to drive fan-sales, loyalty and word of mouth
      • Exclusive Experiences – Give fans a ‘get-it-first’ opportunity to buy new products worth talking about
      • Empowered Involvement – Turn fans into stakeholders by involving them as brand advisors – make fan-store purchases contingent on reviewing the product or voting on some aspect of how it is marketed
      • Viral Incentives – Reward consumers for spreading the word – financially and/or socially (discounts, samples or news to share)

Doron Simovitch - SortPrice (in New York Times / Venture Beat)

  1. Engage users creatively (and consistently).
  2. Provide exclusivity.
  3. Attract new fans with added incentives.
  4. Solicit input.
  5. Make Facebook a PR tool.
  6. Incorporate Facebook into Customer Service.
  7. Keep an eye out for new features and tools.
Jeff Ente (Mashable)
  1. For ‘Facebook facilitated on-site selling’, use social plugins, and Facebook’s Open Graph API for instant personalisation
  2. For ‘Facebook-initiated selling’ – storefronts and promotions linked through to an external e-commerce site, use social features such as sharing and commenting
  3. For ‘Complete Selling Through Facebook’ – where transactions take place with the Facebook environment, use the social plumbing of Facebook to socialise and personalise the experience
  4. Know the difference between iFrame (520px) (Lady Gaga, Best Buy) and App (760px) (Delta, 1-800 Flowers) f-commerce solutions – iFrames are easier, cheaper but with less real estate to sell from, whilst apps can be more fully integrated into Facebook, offer a bigger canvas to sell from, but may be more expensive and complex to set up and maintain
  5. Familiarise yourself with f-commerce software vendors – Sort Price (Dallas Mavericks), Usablenet (JCPenney), Storefront Social (Borders), 8thBridge (Delta) and Payvment (Triumph)
  6. Address shopper and vendor concerns (shopper; privacy, security), vendor (experience (conversion, traffic and changing standards and terms)
Megan O’Neill (Social Times here – and here)
  1. Use compelling content to engage customers
  2. Use compelling incentives to turn ‘likes’ to ‘buys’
  3. Use retail events – flash sales and group-buy promotions – to drive buzz and loyalty (Zibaba, SortPrice and Wildfire offer such f-commerce tools)

Matt Sullivan (Moontoast)

  1. Content Drives Facebook Commerce
    • Be Regular
    • Be Authentic
    • Be Fun
Paul Chaney (Practical Ecommerce)
    1. Merchants need to adopt a 10 point social media mindset
      1. Everyone Has a Voice and Every Voice Matters – but build relationships preferentially with influencers (those with largest digital footprint)
      2. Word of Mouth is Now More Important Than Ever Before – social media is a word of mouth environment, harness it
      3. Listening is the New Marketing – Listen and respond first, one-way messaging won’t work in social media
      4. Lose Control of Your Content – invite comments and contributions
      5. Information Has to Be Findable and Sharable – search and social fit like hand in glove, search to find, social to share – use them both
      6. Information Today is More About “Shared Connections” and Less About “Information Silos” – adopt a networked hub and spoke digital strategy with distributed, multiple and linked presences
      7.  The Watchwords of the New Web – build your strategy around the four watchwords and digital trends - global, local, mobile and social.
      8. Facebook is the Operating System of the New Web – not a social network, but a social OS
      9. The Web is Real-Time and All-the-Time – think of the fourth dimension of opportunity space; time.
      10. Using Social Media Does Not Have to Be Expensive – in money, but you’ll need to deliver a valued experience

Thomas Crampton (Ogilvy)

  1. Be Discoverable – Brand pages must be easy to find and integrated with your other brand digital assets (e.g. social plugins on website)
  2. Be Exclusive – Brands should keep exclusive content and value behind ‘fan-gates’ – visitors much first like the brand before accessing fan content/offers
  3. Be Engaging – Using a content calendar, brand should encourage 2 way conversations to maximise organic word of mouth on Facebook

Kayla Hutzler (Luxury Daily)

  1. Building your brand, rather than making sales, should be a priority of upscale and luxury brands with Facebook commerce
    1. Research upfront what types of product your Facebook fans want – your fan-base may not be your core target market
    2. Ensure you have the financial and human resources to do it properly, i.e. deliver a quality brand experience, that is consistent with the brand and a flagship store retail experience
    3. Use Facebook insights and tools to learn about your customers, and to offer a personalised experience

Steve Bass (TabJuice)

  1. Build your Facebook store(front) as you would dress the window of your flagship store
  1. Create a Sense of Community
  2. Offer One-off Specials
  3. Post Content that Amuses and Entertains
  4. Increase Your Facebook ‘Likes’
  5. Promote your Facebook Store in your “Bricks and Mortar” Store
  6. Grow Your Email Subscriber Database
  7. Provide Exclusive Offers
  8. Attract New Facebook Fans with Incentives
  9. Solicit Feedback
  10. Make Facebook a Public Relations Tool
  11. Incorporate Facebook into Customer Service
  12. Add to and Enhance your Facebook Store
  13. Promote on Twitter
  14. Use High Definition Videos and Images
  15. Don’t Forget the Headline
Susan Kuchinskas (American Express Open Forum)
  1. Work within the environment – don’t simply replicate your e-commerce store in Facebook
  2. Take advantage of Facebook functionality
  3. Choose your vendor carefully – ease of use and customisation (name tabs, update feed any time, manage order products appear, add banners) should be your primary concern
  4. Consider fan-gating
  5. Don’t forget the social – engage customers in conversations, get them involved

Steve Hall (Facebook Storefinder)

  1. Nice looking fan page
  2. Use of marketing apps
  3. Build a community around your products
  4. Let visitors know there is a store available
  5. Give a reason to ‘Like’ you
  6. Sell interesting stuff
  7. Make product presentation appealing
  8. Create a reason to share your products
  9. Add useful wall posts
  10. Create a reason to come back

Zmags (retailers guide to f-commerce)

  1. Offer exclusive content on Facebook (exclusive offers, access, deals) – as a thank you for likes
  2. leverage f-commerce as a way to provide instant gratification
  3. Do not replace e-commerce with f-commerce, but use both
  4. Use f-commerce to reach the social consumer, use e-commerce reaches and fulfills the needs of your traditional consumers