Facebook has now proved its dominance as a social media giant, unrivalled by any of the other social network out there. The network is rapidly approaching the land mark figure of one billion active users and the ‘like’ function generates almost three billion uses every day. Now, with the capabilities of retailing, it could potentially be the biggest market place ever seen. But how realistically can return on investment be optimised through social commerce effectively?
Increase exposer to your store
Firstly, before someone gets the wrong idea about this, I don’t mean spam your fans with links to your store front and news of additions to your product lines. Nonetheless for F -commerce to operate successfully it is important to lure customers to your page so they can see that you offer a retail functionality and thus generate interest in what you have to offer. A high level of engagement doesn’t necessarily mean that fans are looking at your pages, as they will often simply be conversing directly from their news feed. It is therefore important to give customers a good reason to visit your page, whether it be for competitions, for follow up information or for content not shown in posts.
Offer something new
One of the common weaknesses of F-commerce ventures is that they stand identical to their E-commerce counterparts except for the different URL. Companies have long been offering exclusive online only offers so why not apply this idea into exclusive social offers? Latest research from e-Consultancy showed that 67% of users hitting Brand page ‘Likes’- do it for exclusive offers!
There is huge scope for differentiating the retail channel here with unique product lines, sales and offers. By ensuring that your social store is not the same as other outlets, you will be able to give a genuine reason for people to use your F-commerce function.
Develop relationships and install trust
In a conventional shop setting, you wouldn’t go up to a customer and push a catalogue in their face. Nor so should you do so online. Instead you should befriend your customers, share with them what you think they might find interesting, listen to what they have to say (after all it might be useful!) and in this way build relationships and trust. I cannot stress enough the importance of trust when it comes to F-commerce. If your customers know you or at least feel they can talk to you, they are likely to feel comfortable buying from you. One of the key reasons for slow adoptions in social commerce is a lack of trust (which extends into security concerns). However, if people feel they can trust a company, they will trust the services it offers, including the payment systems on their page.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
Regardless of size, companies often slip up when it comes to this issue. Most fans don’t want to be bombarded with complexity of content, which is likely to be boring. Nor will they necessarily expect instant replies to their comments. They will understand that you may not have the resources to give immediate responses. What is imperative for F-commerce to work is that you do indeed give them a response. By responding to them you are giving them an incredible thing, a notification.
I see this as offering double advantage…
- first, you have created a direct link to your Facebook page (in order to see your response) which will be exposed to your store and
- Second, building the vital relationships discussed above and creating the much needed trust.
So it really is a win-win situation!
What’s to be expected from social commerce?
Without doubt, social commerce will become a huge feature of social platforms in the coming years. As the technology develops we can surely expect increasingly positive personalised shopping experiences through social channels. A targeting method like that used in social adverts, could easily be translated into the selling of product through social media. This could produce astonishing results as pin pointing Facebook users’ interests and likes has now become so accurate.
Zig Ziglar, a renowned author and salesman once said “Stop selling. Start helping”. Well I’d like to adapt this slightly to make it more applicable to social media…
“Stop selling. Start Conversing”.
To gain a return on investment from F-commerce you don’t need to be clever, you don’t need to dedicate vast amounts of time or even money. All you have to do is to imagine what you would want if you were in the shoes of the customer and what would encourage you to visit, browse and purchase. Unfortunately this is something that businesses often manage to forget to do when it comes to using social media.