Facebook or f-commerce to some, may see like a dirty word. Whether you think that or not depends on what your point of view is on adding shopping to social networks. Will brands take the next step to social media ROI with Social Commerce on Facebook? That's what I address in Like My Stuff.
If you ask Mark Zuckerberg, he says social commerce is the next big thing... but of course he does...
The skill with which brands fulfill on f-commerce will directly affect the success not only for their own individual brand, but as an industry as a whole. If social networking shopping sites are not delivered in the spirit of what the customer wants, it will fail. If not for this point alone, brands need to pay attention to f-commerce as an example of how shopping can be integrated within a social network.
My book, Like My Stuff, is about the opportunity businesses have to combine brand interactions and social commerce on Facebook (f-commerce) to increase their sales and promote their brands. Using nearly 50 live, full color screenshots from major retailers such as Macy's, JC Penny's and Avon as well as medium to small businesses, LIKE MY STUFF shows why f-commerce is the fastest growing trend and how to do it right or piss your customers off for good.
Potential Pitfalls for f-commerce
Are there potential pitfalls to dealing in f-commerce? Yes, privacy, intrusion, relevancy, engagement and the social fatigue gap. Those and other factors are why f-commerce and eCommerce are so different.
Let's look at privacy first. Remember back to 2007? Facebook tried Project Beacon. That process collected the eCommerce activity of Facebook participants on third party sites and then posted a user's purchases on their friends' news feed. That didn't last long because users felt it was a privacy issue to disperse their information and data. There was backlash and many thought this might be the end of social shopping for Facebook. A study from JWT found the percentage of people worried about Facebook privacy and security to be in the 75% range. So if a brand is going to consider social shopping, it needs to be aware of making their customer's feel secure.
What's the issue with intrusion and consumers? The conflict for the shopper is when shopping feels likes it is an intrusion in a user's social network lifestream. A lifestream is made up of the online posts and interactions a person creates in their daily interactions in social networks. Brands who go down the f-commerce path need to understand the nuances of social networks, what works and what doesn't work.
This book is full of case studies of f-commerce that work. But brands should not just look at these examples for the mechanics of how a brand delivered an f-commerce solution. They must also understand what motivates a customer to click on a "Like" button and what it takes to go from just "Liking" a brand to getting them to redeem a coupon to getting a customer to become a loyal customer with repeat purchases and preference for the brand. To do that brands must become a social experience that is interesting and relevant to their audience. Social currency is the value a brand brings to a customer's lifestream, i.e., providing relevancy and customer centric engagements that enhance a customer's life. And social currency is where the return on investment in social media pays off. When brands don't understand social currency, relevancy and engagement, they become an intrusion.
Relevancy: Know Your Audience
Often understanding what is interesting and relevant is best found by asking customers directly. Too many PR, marketing an advertising firms think they know better. They don't take the time to do the account planning or research to really understand their audience, their behaviors, their motivations and drivers for let alone for traditional campaigns. Enter social media. If a brand does not listen and understand their online audience, the backlash can be devastating. (Think Netflix- check out my blog post on how Netflix wasn't really listening or understanding why customers were upset ) That doesn't mean a brand should not enter into the social media realm. It means they need to go back to school and understand the differences between online and offline customer interactions and the viral nature of a scorned customer.
Get To REALLY Know Your Audience
Brands need to make sure they have someone on staff who understands how to do primary audience research in both social media and traditional methods. Qualitative and quantitative methods of traditional account planning and audience research include:
- Focus groups
- In-depth interviews
- Surveys, and
- Ethnography / netnography (observations off- and on-line of the audience behaviors)
Social media monitoring tools like Radian6, Sysomos, Tracckr, etc... lend themselves to account planning and audience research, especially for:
- Primary Research (research conducted by the brand itself)
- Sentiment and share of voice online
- Identification of the top influencers, advocates, customers, brand naysayers and press
- Polls, surveys, netnography, etc...
- Topics influencers and advocates are discussing about the brand
- Customer issues, questions, suggestions and praise for the product, service and the brand...
- Secondary Research (research conducted by other people than the brand)
- Studies other research groups or institutions have produced on the brand, the or category that the brand falls into (consumer products, automotive...) and the customers associated with those groups.
In addition, conversations within online communities- either owned by the brand or third party communities, can reveal very interesting insights for the brand. In particular interest to this book on f-commerce is the use of community applications within Facebook. An example of a community application used within Facebook is Get Satisfaction's Facebook Solution.
Because the Wall in Facebook changes so quickly, brands end up answering the same questions over and over. The Get Satisfaction Facebook widget allows brands to not only avoid spending time repeating the same answers on the Wall (because questions and answers can be searched on and retrieved), but instead can focus on creating relevant content and interactions that engage customers to participate and make that brand part of their lifestream.
Most social media monitoring tools can only provide Facebook data that is on public pages. Because of the partnership between GoodData and Get Satisfaction, the brand can obtain intimate knowledge of the conversations on their Facebook pages between the brand and its customer's. And, if the brand has included the Get Satisfaction widget on their website or other communities, that data can also be aggregated.
If a brand doesn't take the steps to understand their audience, there is no guarantee that the social shopping experience will yield good business results. Why guess, when you can know?
In the old days, Marketers counted on customers telling 10-20 of their friends about a product or service. Today with the social web, one customer's comment, negative or positive, informs thousands and sometimes millions of people in nearly nanoseconds. And reports show that year after year, consumers generally trust the opinions of people they know more than they trust anonymous ratings and reviews posted online. And in comparison, they trust online banner ads and advertisements even less. Social commerce or f-commerce is the opportunity to leverage word-of-mouth to increase the awareness of brand and drive customers through the consideration and purchase funnel.
Social Network Fatique
Brands must begin to think from the social customer's point of view. Customer's who use social media are constantly being bombarded with invitations to new social networks. They have to decide where to spend the little free time they have. This means that a brand must provide their social customers direct engagement that acknowledges their understanding of their customers in the social web as well as reward them for that participation in the social experience created by the brand. Customers who do encounter great social experiences influence other customers. That influence can multiply across their social graphs and spark comments, conversations and purchases. To be good at this means that you are a student of "a day in the life of your customers."
For instance, Nike built a community where runners can share their experiences about running. There are tools to keep track of the number of miles you've completed, etc... This community provides something that runners need and hence they go there. The net-net for Nike is that the more people are inspired to run, the more shoes they sell. But the strategy can't start with - let's sell more shoes. Interaction strategy must provide something that customers need and want. Otherwise the brand's social strategy will fall prey to social fatigue.
Many businesses, big and small, are wondering if they should go down this path? How is f-commerce different than the e-commerce they already offer? And does f-commerce mean that you have to get rid of your traditional e-commerce platform? I addresses these and other questions in the book... if you'd like to order it, click here... LIKE MY STUFF. So Check it out and let me know what you think!
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