My last blog “The rise of social commerce: re-designing the shopping experience” spoke of the emergence of social commerce as a new a potentially significant sales channel helping people integrate the social aspect of shopping with the transaction through platforms such as Facebook. I concluded then that social commerce is still in its infancy and could be a risky investment for most companies to make given that there isn’t enough data available yet to prove its success.
Since writing my post back in March 2011, we have not only seen the increasing rise of Facebook Stores, but also Facebook Deals (allowing customers to pay upfront for vouchers that can be reclaimed in store or online) and Facebook Credits (reducing e-commerce friction). Last week, Zeeshan blogged about the impact of social media for retailers discussing the escalating adoption rates and his views on the key tools that retailers should develop. It is clear that brands are finding more and more ways to make money from the social network, however the rush to set up a social commerce site on Facebook is not for the ill-prepared. This week I'll consider key considerations for an organisation that is building its social strategy, with a focus on Facebook as the initial tool.
What strategy should a brand adopt to ensure that social commerce is successful?
In my opinion, a key strategy to success for a brand is to leverage their relationship with a special breed of customers: their fans, who personally show support of brands upfront by ‘liking’ them. Indeed, recent research from Forbes demonstrates exactly how valuable Facebook fans are to a brand:
- They are 41% more likely to recommend a brand
- They are 28% more likely to continue using the brand in the future
- On average, they spend $71.84 more per year than other customers
The evidence is clear - allowing fans to purchase directly from the fan page means high levels of engagement and therefore the prospect of higher conversion rates. However, it’s fair to say that simply adding a shopping cart to a fan-page is not enough. Brands need to give their social commerce offer a distinctive and unique aspect, creating a great experience for their ‘special customers’ to ultimately drive sales.
How can brands make the most of their fans?
- Reward fans: Rewarding loyal fans with exclusive offers and fan-only discounts will improve their experience and incentivise them to recommend the products and services to friends
- Co-create products and services with fans: Allowing fans to ‘co-create’ products and services and thereby have an active say in what is sold and how it is sold will strengthen the bond between the brand and its followers. Companies should ask for the opinion of their fans and let them know they are listening so that the brand is something which the fan becomes part of and feels a personal attachment to
- Keep it social: Social commerce should not be all about selling – nobody likes feeling like they are being ‘sold’ to all the time. Rather than inundating fans with too many sales messages and invading their personal space, brands should engage them and make the most of the social aspects of Facebook. Fans should be involved in discussions and polls, companies should share relevant industry news with them and as mentioned above, encourage them to ‘co-create’ products and services.
Companies should monitor the behaviour of their fans and continuously develop and share insights across the business. Brands need to understand how their fans are behaving by evaluating analytics, exploring the profile of their fan-base and the journey they experience whilst using the site. Developing insights will then allow brands to learn what works and what doesn’t. This will help them to take the right action to offer a great customer experience to their ‘special customers’ who are most likely to recommend them, continue using them in the future and help them generate significant revenue.
In summary, brands should consider using Facebook as a platform to deliver not only a convenient social shopping experience, but also an exclusive, privileged, value-added experience for their loyal fans.