Social Commerce

Paul Chaney: Selling on Facebook – Dealing with 4 Issues

Another great post on social commerce by Paul Chaney over at Practical Ecommerce, addressing four common issues people may have with selling on Facebook – the world’s favorite social network that is morphing itself into a digital mall.

  1. Why Sell on Facebook? A: 500M+ users, 50% log on every day, web’s most visited site.  FB users spend more on consumer products than non FB users, more likely to recommend products, and more likely to continue using them
  2. Options For Social Commerce? A: Three forms of social commerce that either i) promote brand loyalty (propensity to repurchase), ii) drive traffic to main e-commerce site, or iii) reshape the buying experience. Disadvantage of ii) (store-fronts) is that consumers need to leave FB to complete the transaction.
  3. Why Social Commerce Is Not About Selling: FB is primarily a conversational platform, not a commerce/shopping platform so vendors should adapt to the conversational context – and seek to be social and interactive – using good social merchandising manners (such as posting to engage with fans, making commerce secondary, pacing postings, and rewarding fans with exclusive offers) to educate, inform and entertain, rather making the hard sales pitch.
  4. Unique Dynamics About Selling Within Facebook? i) Social Product Catalogue (Contextual Shopping) – using social graph data to offer a store that adapts to shopper tastes and behavior. ii) Social Merchandising – using Wall conversations to initiate dialogue, promote products and reward participation – as a means of getting shoppers to the shopping cart. iii) Secure Order Processing – the convenience of completing the purchase within Facebook in a way that deals with Facebook privacy and security concerns (i.e. credit card details only given at payment gateway).

We like how Paul addresses these issues – with smart, practical advice.

Three things we’d add in answer to Why Sell on Facebook, and Options for Social Commerce, are

  • 1) The opportunity to use Facebook as an e-commerce sandbox or lab to experiment and test new retail concepts (flash sales, group-buy, e-commerce personalization) in a low cost environment that does not necessitate messing with the e-commerce mothership.  This is especially useful for both established retailers and brands with little or no e-commerce experience – who want to minimize risk, avoid political battles, and keep costs down.
  • 2) As a conversational medium, Facebook commerce is ideal for stimulating word of mouth around new products and services.  P&G’s pop-up tryvertising stores for Pantene and Pampers are examples of using Facebook commerce for doing word of mouth marketing – and building brand advocacy.
  • 3) A further rational for social commerce is that it allows retailers to monetize their social media investment – allowing for real social media ROI.  Is it worth investing time, energy and money in social media? Unless you stick a checkout till in the experience, you’ll never really know…

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

0 Comments Add New Comment

  1. I agree with your comments on how social commerce is different. The main component of social shopping is about turning purchases into conversations. Social networks are excited about conversations, not purchases. Similarly, questions around purchases arouse a lot of interest. The second component is getting users to share their shopping experiences with friends on Facebook, Twitter, Email etc.

    Allowing users to share their purchases and ask questions about other users purchases helps turn purchases into conversations. As you rightly pointed out, interactions on Facebook have to be drastically different compared to traditional push selling techniques. Push selling techniques will simply not work in social media.

    However, if done right, social commerce can enable fantastic ROI. We, at ShopSocially, have gathered some very interesting data. Every purchase shared by a user gathers lots of clicks from friends. This means that retailers can leverage each purchase to generate additional traffic by creating a conversation around the purchase.

    1. Thanks Samir – I like your idea about turning purchases into conversations, I’d venture that social commerce about turning purchases into conversations and conversations into purchases. Good luck with ShopSocially – nice concept.

  2. Dr. Marsden, thank you for including this article. Social commerce is a great new frontier for social media and I appreciate the insights you share here on SCT. They provide inspiration for my own content on the topic.

  3. I think these are great points. It is consistent with what we are
    seeing. Social Commerce is about engaging your fans and followers
    where they live in conversations and shortening the distance between
    community and commerce.

    We have seen that engaged community members not only will spread your
    word of mouth marketing campaigns to their networks, but in turn
    feature your experimental stores in their conversation streams.
    Letting your prospective clients try your store at the moment, without
    having to go to yet another crowded corporate mothership ecommerce

    Measuring these experiences can help you see what their True ROI is on
    your social media investments.

    1. Thanks Marcus for the insights – I agree. Wonder if there’s an opportunity for an agency specializing in Facebook store site analytics – and providing feedback on what works and what doesn’t… Hmmm.

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