March 4, 2010, 12:00 AM

Target engages a Facebook app to attract over 20,000 moms in six weeks

For a back-to-school promotion, Target Corp. attracted more than 20,000 visitors in six weeks within the Facebook application “Circle of Moms.”

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For a back-to-school promotion, Target Corp. attracted more than 20,000 visitors in six weeks within the Facebook application “Circle of Moms.”

With the help of appssavvy, a New York-based social networking technology and services firm, Target developed a “Target Back to School Community” that ran with product promotions within the Circle of Moms community of 8.5 million registered users.

Target and appssavvy developed content for the promotion in Facebook Markup Language, an extension of HTML used to build applications on Facebook. Target supplied RSS feeds of weekly product deals, including a featured item of the week, to appear in Circle of Moms members’ Facebook Social Newsfeed, says Julie Nielsen, director of client strategy for appssavvy.

Clicking on a featured item took participants to a product buy page on Target.com. The “Target Back to School Community” garnered 22,000 members in six weeks, while a “Back to School Zone” product promotion section attracted 17,000 participants.

Nielsen Target and appsavvy further sought to engage Circle of Moms members by building a carpool finder. The finder helped registered moms find others who lived nearby to contact about sharing rides. The application uses Facebook profile data and the Facebook Social Graph application programming interface, or API, which enables web developers to integrate applications with back-end data, such as where club members live.

The moms community generated 359 thread posts, or strings of messages shared among community members, as a result of various features Target provided, including the carpool finder, back-to-school checklists and featured deals that linked back to an e-commerce page on Target.com.

 

“Strategically, our goal was to keep them engaged on the current platform and not drive them away,” Nielsen says. “The idea is to first gain trust of users, give them a solid experience and then drive them to purchase.”

“All in all, Facebook has built a great platform for developers to simply and easily hook into the Facebook user experience without complexities,” Nielsen says.

Retailers are drawn to Facebook and Twitter because they are so simple to use, says Sucharita Mulpuru, e-business analyst at research and consulting firm Forrester Research Inc. And though these social media platforms are still largely unproven in how effective they can be over the long term in helping retailers build their brands and increase sales, programs like Facebook Connect are gaining traction and garnering success among retailers, she says.

The free Facebook Connect service allows web sites, software and mobile devices to integrate with Facebook’s technology platform and, as a result, reach consumers on Facebook more frequently.

Given that more than 350 million people around the world now use Facebook, Mulpuru says that, at the very least, a presence on Facebook is free market research. With such large audiences, retailers would be “foolish not to do it,” she says.

Article written by Fred Minnick, a freelance writer based in Prospect, KY.

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