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Another great post on social commerce by Paul Chaney over at Practical Ecommerce, addressing four common issues people may have with selling on Facebook – the world’s favorite social network that is morphing itself into a digital mall.

  1. Why Sell on Facebook? A: 500M+ users, 50% log on every day, web’s most visited site.  FB users spend more on consumer products than non FB users, more likely to recommend products, and more likely to continue using them
  2. Options For Social Commerce? A: Three forms of social commerce that either i) promote brand loyalty (propensity to repurchase), ii) drive traffic to main e-commerce site, or iii) reshape the buying experience. Disadvantage of ii) (store-fronts) is that consumers need to leave FB to complete the transaction.
  3. Why Social Commerce Is Not About Selling: FB is primarily a conversational platform, not a commerce/shopping platform so vendors should adapt to the conversational context – and seek to be social and interactive – using good social merchandising manners (such as posting to engage with fans, making commerce secondary, pacing postings, and rewarding fans with exclusive offers) to educate, inform and entertain, rather making the hard sales pitch.
  4. Unique Dynamics About Selling Within Facebook? i) Social Product Catalogue (Contextual Shopping) – using social graph data to offer a store that adapts to shopper tastes and behavior. ii) Social Merchandising – using Wall conversations to initiate dialogue, promote products and reward participation – as a means of getting shoppers to the shopping cart. iii) Secure Order Processing – the convenience of completing the purchase within Facebook in a way that deals with Facebook privacy and security concerns (i.e. credit card details only given at payment gateway).

We like how Paul addresses these issues – with smart, practical advice.

Three things we’d add in answer to Why Sell on Facebook, and Options for Social Commerce, are

  • 1) The opportunity to use Facebook as an e-commerce sandbox or lab to experiment and test new retail concepts (flash sales, group-buy, e-commerce personalization) in a low cost environment that does not necessitate messing with the e-commerce mothership.  This is especially useful for both established retailers and brands with little or no e-commerce experience – who want to minimize risk, avoid political battles, and keep costs down.
  • 2) As a conversational medium, Facebook commerce is ideal for stimulating word of mouth around new products and services.  P&G’s pop-up tryvertising stores for Pantene and Pampers are examples of using Facebook commerce for doing word of mouth marketing – and building brand advocacy.
  • 3) A further rational for social commerce is that it allows retailers to monetize their social media investment – allowing for real social media ROI.  Is it worth investing time, energy and money in social media? Unless you stick a checkout till in the experience, you’ll never really know…