For practical insight and astute advice in all matters social commerce, no one comes close to Paul Chaney, the ‘Social Retailer’ over at Practical Ecommerce and lead participant on the active LinkedIn group Social Commerce: Selling with Social Media.

Paul has been pumping out some sound and smart advice on f-commerce, particularly following recent changes to the platform (here, here, here, here and here).

Here’s a speed summary of Paul’s words of wisdom:

Harness Retailer Opportunities with the New Facebook Page Redesign

  1. Use the new Photo Ribbon at Top of the Wall to showcase your products or people (68 pixels high by 97 pixels wide), tagging photos with the name of your Page and uploading them to your photo gallery.  Remember to include a product description in the gallery, and link to the product page on your site.
  2. Ensure that you’ve switched on the account option to “Use Facebook as Page” i.e. as a business not a person, so your posts are signatured by your business rather than you as an individual.  Doing this not only makes the relationship more authentic (you are a business after all), but also allows you to receive notifications for the Page; view a news feed for the Page, “Like” other Pages, Post on other Pages as your business, but also interact on your Page as an individual where appropriate.
  3. Be aware that whilst you have the option to view your own Page posts by “Most Recent”- i.e. in reverse chronological order, visitors to your page don’t have that useful ‘luxury’ – they just see what Facebook deems as most engaging. Post accordingly
  4. Use email notification feature to be updated when people post to your Page wall
  5. Use the Featured Pages and Featured Administrators to link to partners and Page moderators that your visitors will find interesting and useful – it adds a human dimension to a human network
  6. Consider opportunities for leveraging the fact that visitors will now see who among their friends has ‘liked’ you – via a prominent FB Like Box on your Page (group-buy/social shopping app)?
  7. Choose and design your welcome page to direct visitors to where you want them to go; the horizontal tab menu has gone, and has been replaced by a smaller vertical app menu in the left column.
  8. Ensure you rearrange the order of apps in your app menu to show the 6 priority apps first (only first six-eight apps are shown by default)
  9. Keep your profile banner, appearing in the left sidebar, short – it can be up to 540 pixels deep (18px wide) , but that pushes down the app menu – to below the scroll.
  10. Check and edit where necessary, the category and sub-category to which your Page is assigned in Facebook

Making Use of iFrames

  1. Acquire or buy in expertise for building Facebook apps, Facebook tabs are dead – as it the old DIY approach to creating them with FBML (Facebook Markup Language).  Instead of tabbed areas on your Facebook page you now have apps that pull in externally hosted software via iFrames (inline frames – basically windows to another area on the Net).  This dramatically increases the potential of Facebook to deliver customer value with sophisticated apps
  2. If you’re an aficionado of the dodgy practice of fangating/likegating (making visitors like your page before they can interact with it), then realise that you’ll need programming skills to do it now
  3. If you have any old FBML tabs, know that Facebook support for them will only last this year
  4. If you don’t want to acquire or buy in expertise, use third-party app builders (some still with the legacy label of tabs) such as

Work with Sponsored Stories Ad Units

  1. Use FB Sponsored Stories Ad Units to promote word of mouth recommendations for your business.  The new Sponsored Stories Ad Units are Facebook’s version of promoted tweets or testimonial ads that ‘promote’ friends’ interaction with you, by showcasing their ‘social actions’  (likes, check-ins, app interaction, page posts) in an ad unit on the right-hand ad sidebar (NB people only see promoted social actions of their own friends – that have already been shared via their Wall (hence differentiating Sponsored Stores from the controversial, pre post-privacy era of Facebook Beacon (defunct)). But with each promoted social action syndicated on average to 130 friends – Sponsored Stories are turnkey word of mouth advertising on steroids. (Be aware of privacy concerns and misunderstandings: Sponsored Stores are not Facebook Beacon – and despite Zuckerberg’s claims not everyone is living a post-privacy existence (yet))

10 Facebook Marketing Tips for Retailers

  1. Create a Page, Not a Profile (Profiles are for People, Pages are for Businesses)
  2. Pay Attention to Individual Fans – respond systematically to comments, Likes and posts – even if it’s just with a simple thank you
  3. Use the Photo Strip creatively to showcase employees or products (see above)
  4. Ensure all app menu items are functional (remove any obsolete or inactive apps), and reorder apps in order of priority
  5. Create Custom Page Apps – go beyond the default 8 built-in apps – Wall, Info, Notes, Photos, Videos, Reviews, Discussion with custom iFrame apps
  6. Use ready-made Third-Party Applications
  7. Use Photos (you have a pre-installed Photo gallery app – use it to showcase people and products)
  8. Feature Other Pages – add a ‘Blog Roll’ to your Facebook Page, of other Pages you and your business Like
  9. Upload Your Mailing List to Find More Connections (in admin console, undermarketing, upload your email list to notify your list members of your Page via Recommended Pages ad units (NB the FB app also sends out SPAM to your list of non Facebook members inviting them to join – so use wisely (or not at all)
  10. Update Frequently, But Not Too Often – keep it fresh but don’t Wall-Spam – a single update every other day (posted in the morning and over the weekend) is optimal (see Hubspot’s FB Marketing Guide 2011)