E-commerce on Facebook, usually IDed by the slightly tawdry term F-commerce, is a tricky beast. Gamestop, Nordstrom, and J.C. Penney, among other major brands, have all opened and closed Facebook storefronts over the last year after being disappointed by the number of Facebook-based conversions.
Most failed Facebook proprietors make the mistake of trying to artlessly wedge their existing e-commerce approach into their pages without acknowledging the very different aims of Facebook and webpage visitors. Some efforts, like Amway-style attempts to trade coupons for sharing sales and status updates, work for certain deal-grabbing sorts but seem flatly crass to everyone else. In a post last month, Econsultancy quoted Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, saying, “Selling to consumers on Facebook is ‘like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.'” It takes a certain kind of smoothness and timing that most businesses just can’t muster.
A few businesses have overcome the initial waves of tone-deafness, emerging with clever and, more importantly, venue-appropriate uses of Facebook. Luxury deal provider Gilt Groupe uses their Facebook page to preview upcoming deals. Considering that their business thrives on the fashionable and wired champing at the bit for the next reveal, their Facebook page is, like their fans’ wardrobes, perfectly tailored. The key seems to be offering exclusive incentives, such as advance notice of events or Facebook-only coupons or deals, that acknowledge why people liked the page in the first place and give them reasons to keep coming back.
Businesses also need to keep an eye on engagement. With Facebook’s renewed focus on narratives and filtered content, less engagement by your potential customer means it’s less likely your future posts will even appear in their feed. If you miss the target, you won’t only lose sales–you’ll lose the opportunity to create future ones through that avenue.
This makes it even trickier for a certain kind of business–one that satisfies an occasional need and doesn’t offer something people would buy on impulse. Econsultancy points to a British exterminator firm with a new Facebook strategy that aims to keep their pest-killing services in the front of your mind with trivia, clever videos, and an online game. The somewhat chillingly named Rentokil created an app called Scamper Mouse, in which you can watch our intrepid rodent hero infiltrate a house, guide her past dangerous hammers and vacuums, and absorb vermin trivia. (Did you know? Mice transmit rickettsialpox, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, leptospirosis, and hantavirus. Next level!) The company had a well-documented Twitter flounder a couple of years ago, but, tenacious as their quarry, they’ve come back and seem to have gotten it right.
Read the full story at econsultancy.com.