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)
- 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
- 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
- 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)
- Engage users creatively (and consistently).
- Provide exclusivity.
- Attract new fans with added incentives.
- Solicit input.
- Make Facebook a PR tool.
- Incorporate Facebook into Customer Service.
- Keep an eye out for new features and tools.
- For ‘Facebook facilitated on-site selling’, use social plugins, and Facebook’s Open Graph API for instant personalisation
- For ‘Facebook-initiated selling’ – storefronts and promotions linked through to an external e-commerce site, use social features such as sharing and commenting
- 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
- 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
- Familiarise yourself with f-commerce software vendors – Sort Price (Dallas Mavericks), Usablenet (JCPenney), Storefront Social (Borders), 8thBridge (Delta) and Payvment (Triumph)
- Address shopper and vendor concerns (shopper; privacy, security), vendor (experience (conversion, traffic and changing standards and terms)
- Use compelling content to engage customers
- Use compelling incentives to turn ‘likes’ to ‘buys’
- 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)
- Content Drives Facebook Commerce
- Be Regular
- Be Authentic
- Be Fun
- Merchants need to adopt a 10 point social media mindset
- Everyone Has a Voice and Every Voice Matters – but build relationships preferentially with influencers (those with largest digital footprint)
- Word of Mouth is Now More Important Than Ever Before – social media is a word of mouth environment, harness it
- Listening is the New Marketing – Listen and respond first, one-way messaging won’t work in social media
- Lose Control of Your Content – invite comments and contributions
- Information Has to Be Findable and Sharable – search and social fit like hand in glove, search to find, social to share – use them both
- 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
- The Watchwords of the New Web – build your strategy around the four watchwords and digital trends – global, local, mobile and social.
- Facebook is the Operating System of the New Web – not a social network, but a social OS
- The Web is Real-Time and All-the-Time – think of the fourth dimension of opportunity space; time.
- Using Social Media Does Not Have to Be Expensive – in money, but you’ll need to deliver a valued experience
Thomas Crampton (Ogilvy)
- Be Discoverable – Brand pages must be easy to find and integrated with your other brand digital assets (e.g. social plugins on website)
- Be Exclusive – Brands should keep exclusive content and value behind ‘fan-gates’ – visitors much first like the brand before accessing fan content/offers
- Be Engaging – Using a content calendar, brand should encourage 2 way conversations to maximise organic word of mouth on Facebook
Kayla Hutzler (Luxury Daily)
- Building your brand, rather than making sales, should be a priority of upscale and luxury brands with Facebook commerce
- Research upfront what types of product your Facebook fans want – your fan-base may not be your core target market
- 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
- Use Facebook insights and tools to learn about your customers, and to offer a personalised experience
- Build your Facebook store(front) as you would dress the window of your flagship store
- Create a Sense of Community
- Offer One-off Specials
- Post Content that Amuses and Entertains
- Increase Your Facebook ‘Likes’
- Promote your Facebook Store in your “Bricks and Mortar” Store
- Grow Your Email Subscriber Database
- Provide Exclusive Offers
- Attract New Facebook Fans with Incentives
- Solicit Feedback
- Make Facebook a Public Relations Tool
- Incorporate Facebook into Customer Service
- Add to and Enhance your Facebook Store
- Promote on Twitter
- Use High Definition Videos and Images
- Don’t Forget the Headline
- Work within the environment – don’t simply replicate your e-commerce store in Facebook
- Take advantage of Facebook functionality
- 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
- Consider fan-gating
- Don’t forget the social – engage customers in conversations, get them involved
Steve Hall (Facebook Storefinder)
- Nice looking fan page
- Use of marketing apps
- Build a community around your products
- Let visitors know there is a store available
- Give a reason to ‘Like’ you
- Sell interesting stuff
- Make product presentation appealing
- Create a reason to share your products
- Add useful wall posts
- Create a reason to come back
Zmags (retailers guide to f-commerce)
- Offer exclusive content on Facebook (exclusive offers, access, deals) – as a thank you for likes
- leverage f-commerce as a way to provide instant gratification
- Do not replace e-commerce with f-commerce, but use both
- Use f-commerce to reach the social consumer, use e-commerce reaches and fulfills the needs of your traditional consumers