While the social network isn’t doing away with its direct-sale initiative, it is focusing its attention on ads that drive consumers to retailers’ sites.
That’s why retailers need to use multiple ways to draw attention on the social network.
Facebook’s goal is for every experience on the social network to be completely tailored to that consumer.
“While Facebook has one web site and over 500 million users we actually have more than 500 million web sites because every page is different from each user’s news feed, the messages they receive and the ads they receive as well,” says David Fisch, the social network’s director of strategic partnerships.
With no two consumers seeing the site in quite the same way, retailers have to use multiple ways to draw shoppers in on Facebook, he says.
For instance, one consumer who Likes 100 apparel brands may tune out posts in her news feed, while another consumer who Likes two apparel brands dutifully reads each message. With that in mind, retailers need to think about having multiple ways—such as posting details about a new line, sending direct messages with similar information and using display ads—to reach consumers, he says.
That’s where Facebook’s Sponsored Stories fits in, says Fisch. Sponsored Stories, which launched in January,is a targeted ad service that puts company logos alongside content from consumers’ communications that relate to the company. An ad featuring that content then appears to that consumer’s friends.
Consumers can click on the ads, which appear on the right-hand column of news feed pages in a box labeled Sponsored Story, to visit advertisers’ Facebook pages. A consumer must have had a direct interaction with the brand through a Facebook channel, such as clicking that he Liked a post, in order for his information to be picked up as a Sponsored Story. A Facebook user that simply mentions a company or product in a status update message will not be mentioned in a Sponsored Story.
In addition to those targeted ads, retailers can also attractshoppers by finding innovative ways to make online shopping social, says Fisch.
For instance, Buy.com’s ShopTogether Community allows consumers to browse products together and redirect friends, with their permission, to product pages.Shoppers who sign into Buy.com using their Facebook credentials can see which of their friends are available to chat with via instant messeng; a toolbox on the right side of the screen shows the photos and names of all the shopper’s Facebook friends.
Other retailers have found success with offering limited promotions for sale on the site, he says. A direct call to action can draw consumers in, regardless of whether their news feed is cluttered or clean, says Fisch.
“We think the Facebook platform can really make every step of the marketing funnel social and, in turn, make it a viral loop,” he says. “Whether that means discovering products through the Like button or buying goods with friends, Facebook can help make for a more engaging shopping experience.”