Using Facebook to support online retail sales

A step-by-step guide to integrating Facebook with an online store

You will know that worldwide, Facebook is the largest online social network, there are over 1.5 billion active Facebook users. This data from Global Web Index on active social media network platform active usage  shows the continued dominance of Facebook.

How can retailers best take advantage of all these Facebook interactions? This post looks at Facebook fan engagement for e-commerce websites specifically – I hope the examples I show will give you some new ideas.  The Smart Insights Guide to Facebook marketing has more details and guidance with retail examples too.

Network growth Q4 2013

We will explore how to structure your page and what types of status updates to choose in order to gain the most relevant and loyal audience of your future customers. You will also find out what applications work best.

  • 1. First off, if you are a small business who still doesn’t have a Facebook page, it is a good time to create one.The biggest global brands are already presented on Facebook and actively promote their products there.

    A huge advantage of a Facebook page is that it allows brands to get closer to their target audience. Facebook gives companies a number of ways to interact with their fans, show love to them and gives a human face behind the brand.

    With Facebook you can talk about your business on a regular basis without being pushy and obsessive.

  • 2. The next step is to determine what results you would like to achieve with your company’s Facebook page: whether the primary aim is to inform your brand audience about sales and promotions, or you would like to use it as additional customer support channel. This step will help you understand what kind of content to post and what image and tone of voice to stick to.
  • 3. To start talking about your business, you should build an audience interested in the products related to your brand. By interested audience we mean a group of people who are by age, gender, location and hobbies are most likely to become your customers.
  • 4. One of the most effective methods to grow your fan base quickly is Facebook ads, constantly improving its functionality.

    Facebook now allows very precise targeting of your, narrowing down the search even to the company a person is working for and their position. It reduces the cost of your ads and increases the conversion rate of such fans.

How to improve Facebook engagement

If you want your Facebook page to drive sales, which as a retailer you will, you should focus on how to engage audience with your brand and the content you publish.

If the audience is engaged, then are more likely to participate and to purchase. To spark interest in people who you invite to the Facebook page and keep them engaged, it is recommended to follow certain principles in your content strategy and page design.

  • 1.  Use big, bright, good quality images. Every time when it is possible use custom images instead of those taken from the image stock websites.

    Research shows that posts with images get the biggest audience engagement.

    The rapidly growing popularity of visual-based social networks like Pinterest  shows that online users are more likely to react to and share visual updates like this.

reedsjewellers

  • 2. Publish the content regularly. To become a constant source of useful information for your fans, you should be consistent in your content strategy.
    Brands that have higher percentage active audience tend to post different types of content on a daily basis.
  • 3. Differentiate the content you post on your Facebook page - this comes from the point mentioned above. There are lots of options on how to alternate the content: images, videos, text posts (open questions, experts’ quotes, advice of the day, etc.). Posts from You Tube and Instagram which are now supported in Facebook is another great way to supply appealing content to your fans.
  • 4. Since people come to Facebook for entertainment, to learn about something of their interest and get news from their friends, it is a huge turn off if the brand pushes its product in the fans face and constantly invites to buy it.Practice shows that it is much more effective if the brand focuses on trends, lifestyle and users’ needs – it shows you care about the people who visit the page.

Such an approach can be accomplished through links to useful resources, news updates, how-to posts, answers to the most popular questions, etc. This way your brand page will become a source that your fans will visit regularly.

Pretty Preset’s for Lightroom’s Facebook page

Take a look at Pretty Presets for Lightroom’s Facebook page. The company sells photography presets and they regularly host free webinars providing valuable information to their fans. The outcome is great audience engagement.

Lightroom

Good and consistent visual branding on your Facebook page is also an important factor. It distinguishes your page from your competitors’, makes it more memorable in the users’ mind and facilitates the further development of your brand.

To achieve this effect, use the same colour scheme in your Facebook page, images and logos as you use on your website and elsewhere. Pay special attention to the cover photo and images for apps, if done correctly and in the same style they create an instant impression of stable and well-established brand.

fantafacebook

Source: Fanta Facebook page

How to increase reach

Getting user’s attention is the toughest task in social media. Posting regular, quality content is not enough. It is important that the audience sees this content of course. On Facebook, algorithms like EdgeRank  work behind the scenes and determine who will see your post in the news feed and who won’t.

One of such algorithms is the experience of previous interaction. If previously the user visited your Facebook page, liked the post, shared it or commented on, then most probably this user will see your post in his news feed. Consequently, having seen the post, he  or she might view it, like it,follow to the products tab and so on.

Luckily, there are several smart ways how you can encourage your fans to interact more with your page. First of all, these are different types of contests. Marketing experts believe that a well-organized contest can surely give return in the form of quality leads.

Facebook Apps

There are different Facebook third-party apps that allow conducting contests in the tabs of your Facebook page. Also, after changes in Facebook contest rules, it is possible to run contest right on your timeline.

There are lots of possible contest ideas and they depend on the nature of your business. For example, for a food or cooking-related products a recipe contest would be a great option. It would also give your page a lot of user-generated content, which typically drives great engagement and wide audience reach.

In many cases to get fans talking, retail brands can use open-ended questions or ask fans to vote for the best option. For example, once Amazon asked people what they were reading to promote its deal on books. In the end, the post received 1,396 likes, 218 comments and 264 shares.

You can see a successful implementation of this tactic on the TJ Maxx Facebook fan page:

TKMaxx_facebook_comps

Social games

Fun social games are another low-cost, yet effective method to stir activity among your audience. Social games could be run right on your timeline and encourage people continuously come back to your page and interact with it.

Different types of gaming activities are possible: guessing games, storytelling, you can come up with your own idea remembering some games you played in the childhood. In this post you will find a detailed description of several games which could be easily implemented on Facebook timeline.

Debenhams_FACEBOOK

Support your efforts with proper calls to actions. Make sure that all your posts feature clear call to action – if you want people to click your link or status update, tell them about it!

A  popular practice these days is including other social networks’ tab on your Facebook fan page. Such integration allows users seamlessly access the content of your other social accounts. As a result, your accounts receive wider audience and more ways how the user can interact with your brand. As a rule, brands choose Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest integration for their Facebook page. Pinterest is often best for fashion and style retail brands. Here’s an example from Forever 21 from their Facebook brand page.

FOREVER21 facebook page

Source: Forever21 Facebook page

How to implement e-commerce-customization

As an online store you can customize your Facebook page to make it more suitable to your e-commerce needs and market the business more successfully.

Facebook tabs featuring different apps can support the sales goals of an e-commerce business, sometimes called ‘F-commerce business’. Here, online stores are able to create tabs showing full range of products on their Facebook pages. It’s perhaps most relevant for smaller businesses.

Different options are supported: the buyers can follow to the website to proceed with the payment or complete the purchase right on Facebook without leaving the network.

WinetastingFacebookSource: Winetasting.com Facebook

How Shopify use Facebook Plug-ins

Shopify has a good selection of plugins that allow you to integrate your shop with Facebook fan page and ensure that your sales goals are achieved.

For example, Beetailer plugin avoids the hassle of product data migration by using your current catalog of products and stock information to create Facebook store. It also has social sharing buttons on each product page, lets you run promotions, and provides analytics to analyze the sales.

Shopify_FacebookFacebook: Shopify Facebook

Shopify

statsfacebookplugin

In fact, Facebook tabs have a variety of options, so go as far as imagination takes you, with wide selection of third-party apps you will be able to implement all of your ideas. For example, you can create tab listing.

For your brand upcoming events, newsletter sign-up tab or tab which will facilitate your digital campaign. Foods supermarket chain Whole Foods Market used tabs to show how-to videos, offer Thanksgiving quiz, run Wellness club and list job openings.

WholeFoods_facebook

 Source: WholeFoods Market Facebook

A large share of audience joins brand in social networks in order to always know about new deals or receive exclusive discounts. If your brand heavily uses discounts and deals in marketing, make sure to show them the best on your Facebook page too.

You can make the use of apps created specifically to offer coupons, gifts and run different kinds of promotions.

For instance, on Amazon’s page, sweepstakes and deals apps are the most popular applications. Generally speaking, making exclusive offers to your Facebook fans is a huge driver of engagement too. Having received some kind of incentives, these fans are more likely to buy from your page and share it with their friends.

  • ncompass

    Great article – very well put together, thank you

    • Promodo_com

      You are welcome! Very pleased to hear you find it useful) Feel free to comment on future topics you would like us to cover!

  • Carter Kira

    great one. I’ll have a try in some aspects. thank you. My page fans grow slowly and have a very little interaction. Hope it helpful.
    my fb page is: https://www.facebook.com/mymelodyhome

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Summer Sale 2014

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