In Facebook, the economy is booming as users spend real money to play games, send gifts and, increasingly, go shopping
Back in August 2010 a quote spread around the web hailing the imminent arrival of Facebook Commerce: “If I had to guess, social commerce is the next area to really blow up,” said the father of Facebook himself, Mark Zuckerberg.
Since then we have seen a wave of Facebook commerce solutions ranging from complete e-commerce retail integration with Levi’s Friend Store on Levis.com to ASOS, which became Europe’s first fully integrated “F-Store” inside Facebook. This trend is not limited to traditional retail channels: Pampers sold diapers direct to consumers in the U.S., Heinz UK sold product samples to U.K. British consumers and Burberry launched Burberry Body fragrance to Facebook consumers first, before it was available in brick-and-mortar stores.
We talk about what we buy all the time: we talk before we buy, while we buy and after we buy. The hyper-interactive consumer is a new breed of engaged and informed consumer. They are researching, chatting, booking, sharing, blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, Googling every aspect of their lives. They communicate what they buy with their friends online, on mobile and in multiple social networks.
With 800 million users worldwide and 400 million pieces of content shared daily inside Facebook, the social network is uniquely poised to leverage the social commerce trend. Facebook even has its own currency, Facebook Credits, which is the mandatory currency inside apps and games like Farmville and Mafia Wars.
Here are some examples of the innovative ways social commerce is being used with Facebook, and some tips and advice for marketers who want to set up shop on Facebook:
• Setting up a Facebook store with a shopping tab on any Facebook page can be set up in a day. Shopping plugins are available from such vendors as 8th Bridge, VendorShop Social, Payvment, Moontoast and Milyoni. These companies and others like them have end-to-end social commerce solutions that allow businesses to sell their products on a Facebook page or wall.
• Sampling products has become a popular Facebook commerce tactic as well. Heinz soup fans in the U.K. were able to send personalized “get-well” cans of Heinz soup to sick friends for $3 via a store app on the brand’s page. Oscar de la Renta wooed fans with a Facebook sampling campaign, and then followed up with a pop-up store selling an exclusive fan-edition, $65 perfume ring featured on the fashion show runway. The Euro energy drink 28 Black sold 10,000 cans in 38 hours from its Facebook wall.
• Many U.S. retailers that have implemented Facebook social plug-ins such as the “like” button on their e-commerce sites have experienced a direct increase in traffic and purchase on their sites. Levi’s claims it has seen referral traffic increase 40 times from Facebook for Levi’s e-commerce site after implementing the “like” button. When American Eagle Outfitters added the “like” button to its product pages, Facebook users spent 57% more than non-Facebook users.
• Users who log in to TripAdvisor.com with Facebook get a personalized and truly social travel planning experience that allows them to see their friends’ travel recommendations and socialize their travel planning and purchases. They can see where their Facebook friends have visited and reviewed, and read comments on restaurants they have eaten at. The theory is pretty simple: people are discovering content through their social graph and this includes travel-related content. TripAdvisor is moving towards the wisdom of friends in addition to the wisdom of crowds for trip planning.
• Walmart is going local, turning Facebook “likes” into targeted local sales. My Local Walmart is available on Facebook.com through Walmart’s Facebook page. With the app, consumers can choose their local Walmart location and get served deals and coupons based on their local store. It is very easy to see how this will move to a Facebook mobile app sometime soon and serve shoppers with offers while they are shopping in physical stores.
• It’s not just your location. Where you sit counts, too. At Ticketmaster.com, users who log in with their Facebook account will will see a personalized social event experience on Ticketmaster.com that lets them tag their seat at an event and tag their friends as well. The Ticketmaster Interactive Seat Map allows users to see if any of their Facebook friends are going to an event and where they’re sitting. If the seat next to them is available, users can purchase it on Ticketmaster.com. According to the company, a Facebook share for a concert ticket generates an average of $5 in incremental sales per user.
Rewards Go Social
As social commerce gains momentum, we are seeing new and innovative ways to integrate social into every aspect of the shopping experience. Classic reward and loyalty programs are starting to move toward the integration of loyalty-card users databases’ with users’ Facebook data and beginning to leverage the Facebook friend social curve. The social commerce platform is also being used to engage and reward employees. Here are some examples:
• The Citibank ThankYou rewards program, a classic credit card loyalty program, introduced a service called transfer points last year, which allows members to give reward points to other ThankYou members. Building on that, Citibank recently launched a Facebook app that allows customers to use Facebook to pool their rewards points and share them with friends.
When users install the Facebook ThankYou Point-Sharing App, they are linking their Facebook data with their Citibank data. This enables them to share and give Citibank reward points to their Facebook friends who also have Citibank reward points and have installed this app. Friends can team up to use rewards points for things like group gifts or charity, or a family can pool points to help a relative travel home for the holidays. Citibank ThankYou Rewards are being used as the new “social currency,” giving customers far more flexibility with how they spend reward points.
• Motorola Canada launched a social commerce-enabled platform called Motorola Insiders (in partnership with Hill + Knowlton Strategies and my company Horizon Studios). Motorola Insiders is a Facebook social community for retail sales reps who sell Motorola devices at select retail stores to connect, learn, record product sales and share product information. A first of its kind, Motorola Insiders lets Motorola engage in direct dialogue with sales reps and reward staff for product sales and recommendations in-store.
For the inaugural program at one national carrier, in-store recommendation rates of the key Motorola smartphone increased from 5% pre-program to over 50% during the program, and the sales lift was 26%. Engagement in the program has been beyond expectations as the 1,500 sales reps signed up on Motorola Insiders have posted close to 20,000 discussions. The program also amassed close to one million earned media impressions inside Facebook, demonstrating that the program reached beyond the sales reps that participated.
The next-generation social shopping experiences will get more personal, allowing consumers and sales teams to share more. Consumers will be able to share their shopping thoughts through a wide array of shopping actions, such as share, like, own, heart, bought, want, wish and sold.
Facebook’s 800 million worldwide users represent a lot of buying power—the opportunity is now and the speed of change is only increasing. The entire web is being rebuilt around people and in general, all experiences are going to be more social. When it comes down to it, people like having their friends around them when they are making decisions.
Janice Diner is a creative director and strategist working in social and emerging media technology. She is the founding partner at Horizon Studios.