Facebook is the darling of the social commerce world and, perhaps, for good reason. With the exception of Google, the social network gets more traffic than just about any other site on the planet. In terms of time spent on site, it far exceeds Google.
Cathy Halligan, CMO at PowerReviews, has an insightful post on the state of social commerce today, especially as it applies to Facebook. Here is a quick run-down of what she had to say.
- The number of people on social networks today exceeds the number of Internet users in 2006. Seventy percent of those use Facebook.
- Marketers are getting f-commerce all wrong, approaching it purely as an advertising and engagement medium.
- Most execute social media campaigns solely within the confines of Facebook, completely ignoring the open graph.
- Measurement is focused on media activity only – reach and frequency, impressions, buzz, and fan count – and do not factor in social commerce metrics such as referral traffic and customer acquisition.
Halligan cites the efforts of four brands – Amazon, Step2, TripAdvisor and Louisville Slugger – with a view toward analyzing how each stacks up in terms of their own respective approach to Facebook.
- Amazon has clearly approached Facebook as a net new business initiative by using the open graph on its site with the result being a more personalized Amazon.com experience.
- Consumers want personal, customized experiences. Up to now that cherished relationship has been the sole purview of small businesses.
- Amazon’s Facebook integration via the open graph has added a personal element, which Halligan praises. She states: “Amazon’s Facebook programming further solidifies its value to customers as a top retail brand, while driving real business results in the form of referral traffic and sales.”
- Through use of the open graph and PowerReviews rating and review product, children’s toy manufacturer/e-tailer Step2 allows customers to connect where they buy.
- Review data is blended with Facebook profile information on product pages, giving customers the ability to have richer, more relevant research experiences.
- Customers get value from trusted, authentic reviews and greater relevance thanks to the Facebook integration.
- TripAdvisor’s integration of Facebook has led to an “ultra-personalized experience” where consumers can plan their a vacation based on places their friends have traveled or plan to go.
- The site provides global mapping capability so that consumers can see hotels and restaurants that their friends have reviewed. Consumers can take a deep dive and see places friends have Liked and checked into, and read more about the destination based on reviews from others.
- TripAdvisor’s use of the open graph sets it apart from other travel sites that only offer data from people the consumer neither knows or trusts.
- Following the 2011 World Series, Louisville Slugger created a cross-platform social scavenger hunt that resulted in an increase of its Facebook buzz by 834% in a week.
- Halligan credits the creative merits of the campaign, but says it harkens back to the days when “reach” – the number of eyeballs a brand could get – was the primary standard of success. She questions what long-term value was actually generated or whether the campaign resulted in more sales for the brand.
- She says brands should look at social marketing campaigns “holistically,” tracking commerce metrics (traffic and sales) in addition to earned media numbers.
Halligan concludes her post with the recommendation that brands should expend resources to experiment with new and innovative ways to use the open graph to improve the customer experience, increase lifetime value and generate new business.
Whether influenced by her role at PowerReviews or not, Halligan obviously places great value on use of the open graph. In her view, sequestering social commerce to a Facebook fan page equates to a fail.
Our perspective is that Halligan is onto something. Up to now, through an emphasis on advertising, traditional metrics and a focus on creating transactions, marketers have attempted to put “new wine into old wineskins.” Social media demands a new way of thinking, which will, invariably, give way to new approaches based on the word of mouth and peer-to-peer influence (trusted voices).
If the locus of power has shifted to the consumer, why not give them ways to leverage it through the use of socially-enabled technologies. The integration of third-party technologies – PowerReviews rating and review product in her case – with Facebook’s open graph is what Halligan sees as the preferred paradigm.