Editor’s Note: This guest post is written by Doron Simovitch, the co-founder & CEO of SortPrice.com, a shopping search engine and Facebook eCommerce solutions provider. Doron has more than 15 years of experience in managing technology and eCommerce and has been quoted in the New York Times, CNN, and other media outlets as an expert in all things online shopping and eTail.
Beware, the sky is falling! Or at least that’s what we’re hearing from some experts on F-commerce following announcements from a few big-name retailers in recent weeks that they are shuttering their stores on Facebook.
Going as far as to suggest that the “F” in “F-commerce” now stands for “failure,” these critics are boldly asserting that F-commerce’s days are numbered and that the entire concept is destined to soon be but a footnote in the pages of tech history.
Frankly, such claims are more than a little mind-boggling. Whenever a new medium like F-commerce emerges, companies are naturally uncertain on how to approach it and it always takes some time before strong and effective strategies emerge. Think back to when the Internet first caught on – it was uncharted territory for everyone, but now, just about every business has in-house employees that handle things like online reputation, SEO, SEM and more.
You’ll forgive the rest of us if we don’t necessarily agree that the end is nigh simply because a handful of companies (out of literally thousands that are actively engaged in F-commerce) are going in another direction. We work with hundreds of merchants on F-commerce and Facebook marketing every month and rest assured, many of them are finding success in the practice. So, no, F-commerce is not on its deathbed. Far from it, actually.
With that being said, however, the recent changes in strategy by some of the bigger names in retail do present an opportunity to re-examine what works and what doesn’t in F-commerce.
If you’re a retailer who isn’t getting what you hoped for out of F-commerce thus far and you’re wondering why, perhaps the following list holds the answer.
1. Your Social Media Director/Manager is a 20 year old college intern who only comes to work two or three days each week.
The Lesson: Effective F-commerce requires time and an attention to detail. It is certainly not a part-time venture, so if you hand over the responsibility to someone who isn’t consistently on top of things, you can’t possibly expect solid results in return.
Hiring someone exclusively to handle F-commerce isn’t necessarily a requirement but finding a way to make sure that your social media ducks are in a row every single day absolutely is a must. Spread those responsibilities around so everyone on your team gets to add their input and please, by all means, avoid letting an intern carry the load!
2. When the F-commerce craze started, you spent upwards of $50k on a so called feature-rich social commerce platform to make a big splash rather than shop around to find something more cost-effective that actually fits your particular needs.
The Lesson: In other words, you overpaid. Look, F-commerce is not ‘one size fits all’ and what works for a big-name electronics retailer may not work for a niche merchant selling customized jewelry. Of course, if you’ve paid four or five figures to have your Facebook presence built, any disappointment in the results is going to seem that much worse because of the cost affiliated with it.
There are lots of social commerce providers out there that won’t charge you an arm and a leg for a good, solid platform. If you still can, it might be a good idea to explore those options.
3. The last time you posted something, ANYTHING, on your Facebook fan page it was still 2011.
The Lesson: It’s early March, your most recent Wall post referenced something about holiday shopping and you’re wondering why no one is paying any attention to you? Attention spans are short on Facebook and the one thing above all else that determines F-commerce success is engagement. If you’re not regularly posting content, even if it isn’t material that is necessarily tied to your company or products, users are going to forget about you. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t wait for your next big sale or promotion to put something up on Facebook. Scour the web for thought-provoking content such as jokes, riddles, trivia questions, funny videos and pictures and encourage your fans to chime in those posts. Chances are, they will enjoy the ‘fun’ content now and as a result, will be likely paying more attention when you do roll out something bigger.
4. Your Facebook fans are wondering, “Where’s the love?”
The Lesson: If there’s one hard truth that we’ve learned in the past few years with regards to F-commerce, it’s that Facebook users overwhelmingly tend to Like brands for one reason only: they want to get something out of it. The problem is, very few retailers are obliging them in that regard.
F-commerce is a two-way street and users have already satisfied their end of the bargain by liking you in the first place. Now it’s your turn to provide something that is exclusive to your Facebook fans. Maybe it’s a deal like free shipping. Maybe it’s a promo code. Maybe it’s a discount on larger orders or a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offering. But give them something! Again, with shortened attention spans you’re going to need every tool at your disposal to keep people around. Giving them an incentive or reward for their loyalty is one of the best ways you can do that.
5. There’s no ‘social’ in your social media strategy
The Lesson: This encompasses some of the things we’ve covered already, but overall, it’s amazing just how unsocial some brands are when it comes to social media. Far too often we see retailers building a Facebook store and then just expecting new sales and customers to appear out of thin air simply because they’ve now got a social media-based storefront. It doesn’t work that way!
Remember engagement? Remember the idea of a two-way street? Remember incentives and rewards? All of these things are important components of successful social media strategies. Simply posting products on Facebook is never going to be enough. Make a connection with your fans and followers whenever possible because that is the very essence of what social media is about in the first place.
Critics will continue to say that F-commerce’s day has come and gone, but don’t believe it for a second. Facebook’s huge global user base and the potential that it holds for brands is more than enough to ensure F-commerce’s viability well into the future. Your own F-commerce success, however, is wholly dependent on keeping these suggestions in mind as you move forward and try to separate yourself from the pack.