Proving the return on investment of your social media efforts has long been a key challenge for social marketers, and one which, gradually, as social becomes a more prominent part of business, the platforms themselves are working to better facilitate.
Facebook has taken the lead on this, with options like 'Conversion Lift', which enables businesses to upload their point of sale data for comparison with Facebook records (Facebook can cross-check your in-store customers' e-mails, for example, and tell if they saw your Facebook ads). Facebook's also sought to make a more direct connection between in-store purchases and Facebook activity with tools like 'Offers', which enables brands to connect deals offered on their Facebook Page to a bar code that can be scanned in at the purchase point, directly linking their on and offline efforts.
And now, TechCrunch has noted another Facebook option to link your on-platform efforts to in-store sales, with some users now seeing a 'Rewards' tab in their Facebook apps listing which provides them with a personalized QR code. That code can then be scanned in to obtain discounts or rewards from participating businesses.
Image via TechCrunch
If rolled out more widely, the option could provide significant benefits - both to Facebook and to businesses utilizing the tool.
For business, Facebook could enable them to link to the Rewards code with their ad efforts, helping them provide more incentive to get people into their stores, while also enabling them to better measure the direct traffic driven by their Facebook ad spend.
For Facebook, it would give them more data to use in their ad targeting process, while it might also make the platform a more critical shopping companion by linking people to exclusive offers - like a deals website built into the app you're already using.
The tool could also boost word-of-mouth sharing - users are likely to tell others about the deals and specials being offered via 'Rewards', which could then give business more motivation to link into the program and utilize Facebook ads to promote it.
As noted, this is the latest tool Facebook's using to link on and offline purchase behaviors, efforts which could eventually provide more motivation for advertisers to use the platform for outreach. If Facebook can show definitive proof of the platform's capacity to drive consumer actions, that could give them a lot more ammunition to reinforce why other brands should also be hooking into the social network, while access to more data points will also give them more ways to refine and improve their ad targeting, boosting effectiveness.
Facebook's also working on geolocation tools, like proximity sensors and in-store beacons, to help map consumer behaviors, all of which are adding to their bigger picture view and capacity to drive user response. Definitely, there are some concerns with how Facebook utilizes their immense data stores, but the more insight they have, the better they can drive results. And the more relevant the network becomes as an all-encompassing ad connector.