Facebook Fan-Stores: What You Need to Know About F-Commerce
When it comes to thinking about doing business on Facebook via a Facebook Store, businesses who are still relatively new to the platform may start grumbling, “What more do they want from me. I’m on Facebook, isn’t that enough?”
Well, for today it may be enough but depending on the products and services you sell you may discover reasons to jump on the bandwagon sooner than later.
Making a Case for F-Commerce
Dr. Paul Marsden, Social Media Strategist for Syzygy and Editor of Social Commerce Today, writes extensively about Facebook e-commerce, also known in the trade as f-commerce. In his whitepaper, “F-Commerce Selling on Facebook: The Opportunity for Consumer Brands,” he advocates for brand pages on Facebook to use fan-stores for “selling fan-first and fan-only exclusives designed to activate brand advocacy.”
Marsden refers to the concept of “social commerce,” the umbrella term for the use of social media to support the buying and selling of products and services.
He writes: “In the first few months of 2011, over $2bn investment was poured into social commerce ventures…analysts see social commerce and f-commerce in particular, as the real business model for social media. Some are predicting that within five years more business may be done on Facebook than on Amazon, and that 10-15% of consumer spending in developed countries may go through Facebook and other social media sites.”
Marsden also references Booze & Co’s forecast in their report, “The Rise of Social Apponomics: How Social Media and Apps are Transforming E-Commerce” that says, “The social commerce market—largely driven by f-commerce and group-buy will be driving $30bn in annual sales in five years time; $14bn in the US and $16bn in the rest of the world.”
While Marsden suggests that f-commerce may still be too new to show the financial efficacy, he identifies five non-sales benefits that can be derived from selling on Facebook:
- Facebook ROI
- Brand Experience
- Brand Insight
- Brand Loyalty
- Brand Advocacy
He says, “Cautious and conservative retailers may choose to sit out f-commerce experimentation until more proof-points emerge on the effectiveness and efficiency of f-commerce in furthering e-commerce goals…But there is a compelling reason not to wait–and that is to learn more about how consumers are using technology–specifically social, location-aware and mobile technology to connect and share with each other, form opinions and make decisions.”
Marsden writes, “The central recommendation of this report is simple: Consumer brands can build brand advocacy with ‘fan-first’ marketing using Facebook fan-stores to get product lines and fan merchandise into the hands and onto the lips of those most likely to recommend them–their Facebook fans.”
Why Use Facebook for E-Commerce?
In their recent book, Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies, Porterfield, Kare and Vahl, offer four reasons why you should consider using your Facebook page as an e-commerce store:
- The average user spends about 1.2 days a month (and growing) on Facebook.
- Facebook is becoming the hub of all kinds of activity, including shopping.
- Free shopping applications make it easy for anyone to have an online storefront or store.
- Engagement goes up when you offer discounts, coupons, or other exclusive deals as Facebook shopping incentives. One of the pluses about setting up a Facebook store is that it can be done relatively easily and cost-efficiently with a number of e-commerce apps.
20 Leading F-Commerce Software Solution Providers
Paul Marsden prepared this comprehensive list of 20 leading f-commerce software solution providers on his blog:
Examples of Four Small Business Facebook Fan-Stores
We checked-in with four small businesses who have set-up Facebook fan-stores to hear about their experiences:
Bennu, a NYC based social media marketing company who focuses on sustainability campaigns told us that they’ve been using Facebook for e-commerce since early Spring 2011. They use their Facebook store to sell promotional products that create brand awareness and affinity.
Ashok Kamal, Co-Founder of Bennu, says: “ We market on Facebook in the same manner that we recommend to our clients: target users who visit the fan page. If you don’t tie your F-commerce in to other Facebook campaigns, such as games or challenges, you might as well just direct visitors to your website store or a third-party e-commerce site. Facebook marketing should reinforce the native community. For example, Bennu hosts crowdsourced design contests that employ the Facebook Graffiti drawing tool App and voting by Facebook fans. The winning design is featured on a special edition product that is sold in our Facebook store. This creates a virtuous engagement cycle.”
When asked how they are they doing on Facebook, Ashok told me, “ Our Facebook store sales are commensurate with our web store, but tend to be from a younger demographic.” The Bennu store uses Payvment.
Megan LaBant Abrahamsen, creator and owner of Blue Star Bazaar, a business that offers gifts and accessories for women and children described her Facebook e-commerce page:
“I have a Facebook e-commerce page managed through BigCommerce. It is integrated with my full webpage/online business. New products and top products are shown on Facebook. The full assortment can be seen by going to my website. I get about 600 visits per month to my main web page. Roughly 25% are referred directly through my Facebook page. I pay for Facebook advertising, and spend less than $10 per day. I have almost 1900 fans. In addition to the advertising, I post new products, sales, photos and information about upcoming events on Facebook. I send a couple of e-mails a month to my customer list but update Facebook with comments nearly daily. The advertising has been quite successful. Up to one in four of the people that “click” on my ad choose to like my page. This allows an ongoing dialog even if they don’t make a purchase on their first visit. I launched my business one year ago and have been using Facebook for approximately 9 months for my business.”
Valerie Reddemann, Owner and President at Greenfeet.com, told us about her Facebook store: “We actually just opened up our Facebook store a few weeks ago using the Venpop application. So far, it’s been received well, though too soon to tell how the numbers will look compared to when we would just post a link to our site and a specific product. We have tried fan-only promotions, however, we do cross promote through Twitter and Venpop will cross promote our special deal to their network. (We do these on occasion with success.)
“We have tried using a Facebook ad with some success when we had a special deal on Facebook (through the f-commerce platform). We had a gain of about 90 fans throughout that two day promotion and sales were respectable. While we are not seeing the same level of conversion as through our email marketing, we do have hope for f-commerce as an additional revenue stream. We’re still testing and developing a marketing program for f-commerce and I’m very curious to see how it all translates to the bottom line.”
Becky Sturn, CEO/Founder StormSister Spatique® and 3waybeauty described her Facebook store:
“I have been using Payvment on Facebook for about two months for 3waybeauty. I sell beauty/personal grooming products. I haven’t sold a lot through Facebook because I think it is a new platform and needs to take time to catch on. I don’t buy ad space on Facebook and only market to my followers via newsletters, Twitter, etc.
Summary: There are a number of good reasons to consider a Facebook fan-store for your business. If you’re more comfortable considering a trial run before making a longer term commitment, we don’t think that you’ll regret giving it a go. Rather than just putting up a store without a plan for it, you can follow Paul Marsden’s sound advice and design your sales strategy to sell fan-first and fan-only exclusives.
What are your thoughts about Facebook Fan-Stores? Do you have any experiences to share? Let us know in the comments below.