Facebook stores fail f-commerce goals by selling not socialising

F-commerce stores are shutting or scaling back their offerings. Have stores grasped how to do f-commerce yet or is there a long way to go before social selling really succeeds as a business model?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

F-commerce stores are shutting or scaling back their offerings according to Bloomberg.  But have stores grasped f-commerce yet or is there a long way to go before social selling succeeds as a business model

There are precious few brands on Facebook that get interaction with their fans right.  Some use Facebook as an opportunity to spam offers, others present versions of their online storefronts as a way to garner more sales.  But is this the right way to make money? Is this the right way to gain loyalty from your Facebook fans?

Social shopping is more than the click to buy mentality common across some e-commerce sites. F-commerce is about sharing, influencing and encouraging your friends to engage and purchase things that you love and recommend.

Some brands do not understand how to sell on Facebook. Others know it is about sharing and recommending.

But they are few and far between.

Sucharita Mulpuru notes that 'stores or fan pages on Facebook have yet to generate any significant revenue for companies as few shoppers visit brand pages or Facebook stores after becoming a fan'

Palo Alto based social media technology and solutions provider Friend2Friend doesn't think this is the case.  Today it has announced that Universal Pictures has adopted the Friend2Friend social media platform. This allows clients to ' create, manage, monitor, and measure individualized social media marketing campaigns that can be deployed across Facebook and other platforms.

The newly upgraded Platform includes a wide variety of campaign types, including social commerce, social quizzes and the management of self-serve contests and sweepstakes campaigns'.  Universal kicked off this campaign with the Safe House movie last year.

With the Universal Pictures ticketing app, fans can watch and share the movie trailer, find show times, invite friends, and buy tickets, all without leaving the Facebook wall.   It's currently available for cinema fans in the US only but might be rolled out globally within the next 3 to 6 months. It has already gone global with the Lorax moustache campaign in other countries.

Leigh Godfrey, Director of Digital Marketing, Universal Pictures “fully expect(s) the continued use of this unique tool as fans make plans to see other Universal films in 2012.”

This approach, whilst not selling tickets directly through the app across the world, still encourages friends to go and watch the same movie, share trailers and socialise around common interests.

It's a different approach --  and it might just succeed where other stores are failing.

Not just a store front

F-commerce seems more than just a store front within Facebook.  It is about empowering people to promote brands to their friends.  Accorging to Wade Gerten, CEO of 8th Bridge, 'Online shopping experiences are better when they are social'.

The f-commerce experience is about sharing, it's about advocacy and it is about engaging with your friends.  But some businesses don't fully understand social behaviour on Facebook.

It is not all about the 'like', the number of fans and the quantity of sales. It is about how the brand affects your Facebook experience. For that, you need to have an experience that goes 'Beyond the Like' bringing social and business imperatives together.

Facebook is about discovering new things.  It is about sharing those new things.  Surely f-commerce can marry these two components and give the social networker what they want?

F-commerce stores like Maplin seem to be getting it right.  You can share your dream product with your friends. Perhaps it is about purchasing, perhaps it is about sharing.  Where are the online retailers 'wish lists' such as the list on Amazon? Where are the sharing opportunities across brand offers?

There is a screen real estate challenge with shopping inside Facebook too.  It is hard to get full functionality into the window, scroll bars look messy and the customer turns away.

But taking advantage of the user's social graph is more sensible.  You are likely to share items with your friends, why not share events such as football games and cinema shows.  You can take advantage of group purchasing discounts and time limited offers.


Heinz has had success in the UK with its personalised 'Get Well' soup cans.  For £1.99 you can purchase a can of Tomato, Chicken or Potato and Leek soup.  It's had a great response to its campaign too.

In four weeks it reported 2127 sales.  That is one sale for every eight fans.  Additionally it had a 200% increase in Facebook 'Likes'.  Perhaps the likes were from folks waiting for someone to get sick so they could send a 'Get Well' can.

Replicating the storefront within Facebook may not be the ideal way to generate sales, as JC Penney, Banana Republic and Nordstrom have discovered.  Perhaps they approached the sales ideal in the wrong way. With e-commerce revenue sales now hitting $680B, surely there is a slice of the pie for f-commerce?

“We view Facebook as a tool where we can reward our most loyal fans, as well as receive feedback and ideas” said Nigel Dickie, director of corporate and government affairs for Heinz UK & Ireland.

Perhaps friends, loyalty, feedback and rewards is what f-commerce is really all about.

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