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Opinion: Retailing and social media: What’s next?

By now, any digital marketing executive realizes that with more than 700 million users worldwide, Facebook’s “population” would make it the third largest nation in the world, and a platform that is too big to ignore. And just like any other country, there are some fundamental elements required to feed and foster the populace (aka – your customers, potential customers and fans). 

Commerce on Facebook is still relatively in the early innings, but that is changing. Right now, the goal for many retailers is to engage and build their audiences on Facebook, and then direct those fans to their stores - online and in real life - where everyone is shopping, in addition to bringing their store to Facebook where, according to Forrester Research, only 3% are currently shopping. 

It’s important for companies to understand how social sharing drives not only web traffic, but also conversions and shares. We know that social commerce is a great way to learn about how consumers interact with brands through social channels, and how these interactions inform their purchasing decisions. According to Wired magazine, 90% of online shoppers trust recommendations from people they know, while 87% spend more online because of recommendations. 

Here are three things we at Buddy Media believe will get your social commerce efforts off to the right start:

Offer Fans Something Special

Everyone likes to receive preferential treatment. Free samples, exclusive deals and sneak peeks go a long way in real life and even further on Facebook. For example, one of the brands we work with, Pretzel Crisps, wanted to drive fan growth on their Facebook page via earned media. Their goal was to give value to their fans, and use this added value to bring in new fans.

Pretzel Crisps launched a “$1 off” coupon on Facebook during the last week of February, 2011. The coupon was only available to Pretzel Crisps’ Facebook Fans, so the simple, easy to executive coupon offer drove fan growth from 5,000 to 12,000 as a result. Then, on March 15th, 2011, Pretzel Crisps switched the “$1 off” coupon to a “buy one, get one free” coupon. The idea of a ”fan only” offer is simple: you simply create a small conversion barrier to content – whether it be a coupon or an offer – so potential fans have to like a Page before they can redeem a coupon or enter a contest.

The result? Within 36 hours, Pretzel Crisps had doubled their fan-base on Facebook. They now have more than 45,000 fans on Facebook and have seen these fans remain engaged on their Facebook page. Most importantly, the Facebook coupons converted at a very high rate – 83% for the “$1 off” coupon and 58% for the “buy one, get one” coupon. 

Avoid Silos, Focus on Integration

Paid media (advertisements), owned media (Facebook pages and websites) and earned media (viral sharing) must work together to succeed on Facebook and to drive commerce. 

All too often, these efforts are siloed at companies, leading to disjointed programs. Make sure your brand’s marketing, advertising and public relations teams are on the same page when it comes to social media marketing programs. Also, closely examine social sharing on your website. What products are being shared the most? Who is sharing them? What are the trends and what can you learn from them?

Keep it Simple (And Social)

There is a reason it’s called “social media.” Brands, retailers and marketers must work to create meaningful interactions with their fans through engaging content first and foremost, before they integrate social commerce. Keep it simple. Our recent research, which analyzed Facebook Wall posts from more than 200 of our clients, revealed that on average, posts between one and 80 characters had a 27% higher engagement rate than posts with more than 80 characters. Yet these shorter posts accounted for only 19% of all posts. Understanding why people frequent your Facebook Page offers clues as to what will work and what won’t with Facebook commerce.

Jeff Ragovin is chief revenue officer at Buddy Media, where he leads sales efforts that have resulted in eight out of the top ten global advertisers employing the Buddy Media Platform as their Facebook Management System of choice. For more information on social commerce best practices, contact him at jeff@buddymedia.com.

 

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