Optimizing Social Commerce on Facebook

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...March 21, 2011

Shopping on social networks is barely in its infancy yet new reports expect social commerce sales to rise 6-fold by 2015 (Booz & Co., Feb 2011). With the sector poised to be a key revenue driver in the coming years, Facebook is ideally positioned as the dominant leader and there’s little reason for businesses to wait to tap into this new B2C channel.

We currently sit at the gateway of a new era in which we find and consume information very differently than ever before. Many speculate that what Google was to the first decade of the millennium, Facebook will be to the next. To understand Facebook’s growing role in ecommerce, we must recognize the shift away from traditional search engines and towards social networks and the consequential impact it has on marketing and sales.

Recently, Facebook shot ahead of Google as the top source for traffic routed to other major portals (according to web measuring researcher Compete.com). Many industry insiders see an expanding Facebook that will encompass greater communications (to rival email) and the integration of maps- two integral features that could be leveraged for online sales.

With well over 500 million users, Facebook has more eyes watching its pages than do Amazon and eBay combined. Businesses are starting to view the social giant for all that it is, will be and can be. While only some 5% of businesses currently operate a Facebook shop in which they sell products directly on their business page, that number is expected to grow exponentially within just a few years thanks to the initial indicators and measurements.

Numerous studies point to the importance of user-generated reviews on the decision to buy a particular product or service. One such report by Booz & Co. found that 71% of respondents say reviews from friends and family exert the single greatest influence when choosing a product or brand (Feb 2011). Eliminating barriers for conversion, in this case redirecting users to another website, is a compelling reason to have a Facebook storefront in addition to existing online commerce avenues.

The advent of Facebook’s ‘Like’ button in 2010, with continued iterations, has revved up its marketing power and primed the social network for sales. Among notable data collected thus far, 68% of people click the handy ‘Like’ button to discover more information about a brand and its products or services (Compete.com). That’s a telling statistic, suggesting that Facebook be the platform of choice for converting those users to customers directly on the platform.

Converting current fans of your product into customers is by far the most appealing reason that organizations are taking a cold hard look at starting a Facebook storefront. Direct sales on Facebook eliminates the need for customers to leave Facebook- and their social network- behind in order to make a purchase which, statistically speaking, greatly increasing sales results through an easy transaction. What’s more, C2C marketing on your Facebook storefront acts as perhaps the strongest means of marketing and advertising available.

Many of the current Facebook shop apps allow for added features such as ‘fan only’ pricing to attract customers and the ability to share latest purchases with friends on your social networks- even those outside of Facebook.

How to Set up Shop on Facebook?

There are a variety of Facebook shop apps ready to be integrated seamlessly into your existing Facebook page. Many of these apps are free to use, though some have low monthly fees. It’s important to explore the many shop apps currently available, as they offer a wide range of services. While some apps feature the ability to conduct an entire transaction from start to finish, other apps do not allow transactions. Some favorites include Payvment, VendorShop, Highwire and BigCommerce SocialShop.

In general, many Facebook shop apps can be integrated quickly without requiring extensive coding (if any). This saves valuable time and resources for small to midsize companies and allows anyone with a Facebook fan page and something to sell the chance to get up and running.

New technology never replaces the old so it’s important to think of incorporating Facebook social commerce into the broader context of your overall cross-channel strategy. With measurable results and a primed userbase, there’s little reason not to integrate a Facebook storefront today. 

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