Last week, Buzzfeed broke the news that Facebook users would soon be able to shop within their favourite brand’s Facebook pages.
But the truth is, this isn’t new. Facebook has delved into e-commerce and social shopping many times – without success.
Back in 2011, the social media network introduced Facebook shops, but many brands closed them citing lack of ROI. Next, Facebook tried gifts and cards – then shut that down to focus on the ‘Buy’ button. Embedded in Facebook posts, this button allows users to buy directly from brands without leaving Facebook. But, we haven’t yet seen evidence of Australian brands using this. (If you have, we’d love to hear about it!)
As a pioneering digital agency, we see Facebook’s latest choice as an exciting move. But the real opportunity for the social network is not simply extra cash: it’s the ability to make shopping ‘social’.
Giving consumers access to peer reviews and information on friends shopping habits is extremely powerful. It offers something normal online shopfronts cannot: a seamless shopping experience enriched by trusted information from friends. This will allow brands to better connect with their audience and have more control over the decision-making journey. That’s the real value proposition.
If Facebook gets this right, it marks a huge opportunity: the burgeoning e-commerce market is estimated to be worth $1.5 Trillion by the end of 2015.
The question most people are asking is: “is social media a place people want to shop?” If you look at the efforts of various social platforms so far, the answer is probably no. There are no clear success stories or overwhelming evidence that consumers do.
Sucharita Mulpuru, VP analyst at Forrester, once compared Facebook’s attempts to integrate e-commerce to ”trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”
Despite criticism, we know that if anyone can prove everyone wrong it’s Facebook. They are currently the only social network with the audience, the advertisers and the added kicker of mobile users and social graph to make ‘social shopping’ a success.
So, Facebook, it’s time to step up and prove to everyone why you’re number one. Here’s what you need to do to make Facebook shops work.
@sallyherrod is a @ntegrityagency digital strategist living and working in New York.
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