Facebook for retail: a faith-based initiative?

6 Comments | This entry was posted in Marketing, Social Media

Last week, a small group from the Shop.org Think Tank met during the NRF’s Annual BIG Show to discuss some of the issues our retail members should be addressing in the new year. While some topics to discuss had been mapped out in advance, the conversation was dominated by an active and animated discussion about what true value Facebook has today for retailers.

After many years of retailers hearing that Facebook will change how consumers shop, is it really driving direct business and customers for retailers? Are the results measurable or is there a lot of “faith” involved with calculating the retailer value of Facebook?

Here are a few questions the Shop.org Think Tank wanted to ask our retail members:

  • How are you measuring the true value of a fan?
  • Do you look at how many fans competitors have and use that as a metric for success?
  • How many people who become fans are existing customers vs. new customers?
  • What percentage of your total traffic and revenue comes directly from Facebook?
  • If Facebook went away tomorrow, how would it positively or negatively affect your current overall profitability?
  • What could Facebook do for retailers to create a more lucrative partnership?

Some of these topics will be covered at the Shop.org members only webinar on Wednesday, January 26.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to respond to this blog or you can email me directly if you prefer your responses to be anonymous and I will post the responses for you without giving up my source. Thanks and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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  1. Posted January 20, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    All great questions – Here are some of my insights on it, hope it is helpful! Looking forward to others input..

    I think it is safe to say that it is more then “faith” at this point but it is not an exact science nor is it affiliate marketing or search. Measurable results that drive business growth and incremental revenue CAN be measured today. Setting your Facebook objectives and having realistic, informed expectations relative to the “measured value” is critical. Direct referral traffic for example from Facebook can be significant; buy now links in FB can track direct sales; programs that help build your email database can be quite successful; new customer acquisition can be measured, loyalty metrics can be applied relative to attrition or even lifetime likes as well as garnering ideas from your customers for new promotions, product development and other contributors to help advance your business.

    As to fans, while you can place a value on a “fan” as you might an email or even a CTR – how many fans you have is not a measure of success – just as how many emails you have is not a measure of success nor is how many CTRS. This is a metric. It is the growth of your fan base, attrition, the level of engagement and activation as measured by likes, posts, feedback, active users – even sales – that is more relevant. (If you haven’t looked at Facebook Insights – take a look at what can be measured to consider how that might apply to your business and metrics.)

    There are a whole host of strategies and tactics that can drive measurable results with Facebook, which can be even further amplified when integrated across your digital marketing efforts, campaigns and promotions. Some of the most successful Facebook efforts we have seen to marketing and sales objectives are those that have engaging, on-going valuable exchanges with fans that are amplified by engaging, marketing and sales driven campaigns.

    As to direct sales with Facebook commerce and more experienced insight. Join me, Kevin Ranford from 1-800-Flowers and Ethan Holland from American Eagle Outfitters for the Social Commerce Webinar on Wednesday, January 26th.

    Looking forward to it!

    Denise Zimmerman
    Shop.org Content Committee Member
    President & Chief Strategy Officer Netplus

  2. Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Facebook allows retailers and, what I like to call, rE-tailers a much more personable method of reaching target audiences. For instance, when a customer or potential customer becomes a fan of one of his or her favorite retailers he or she can find out as soon as a new product is added to the store’s catalog. Many people like to stay in touch with fashion like underwear or electronics, so Facebook is a great way to keep people updated in realtime.

  3. Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Denise brings up a great point that a lot of retailers are focusing only on fan acquisition.

    Traditional search or e-commerce are a ‘search-and-discover’ model where there is explicit purchase intent. Facebook, on the other hand, has no explicit purchase intent – as a retailer you are trying to insert yourself into conversations hoping you can push your fans along the funnel to purchase. So quality matters a lot more than quantity on this channel. You need to be able to leverage the strength of the social channel – two-way engagement – to your advantage. Engagement strategies also need to be optimal i.e. you can’t spam your audience, so when you do try to create engagement it needs to have impact.

    And that goes back to Denise’s point that measurement should include engagement metrics that help drive that two-way communication – likes, comments, responses to fan comments etc.

  4. Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect to such a smart group, I think the questions being asked are all the wrong ones.

    * How are you measuring the true value of a fan?

    Respectfully, who cares? A better question might be: “How are you designing conversations with fans in ways that generate customer inquiries – questions that you’re helping them solve, ultimately through products/services?”

    * How many people who become fans are existing customers vs. new customers?

    Wouldn’t members rather find out “How do you know which fans to engage with and how to converse in ways that produce value for buyer and seller alike?” (value that ultimately results in sales)

    … because these are the kinds of things retailers are doing with Facebook. They’re finding ways to start conversations worth having — that help customers guide themselves toward destinations they (customers) have all but chosen – the retailer’s products and services! I’d enjoy blogging about this, perhaps, here at Shop.org’s blog…. via actual cases.

    Thanks for considering.

  5. Posted February 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    The initial foray by etailers to add facebook like buttons on “product pages” has stalled. I suspect it is because

    1. There is not as much upside to etailers as they cannot ‘post back to the shoppers wall’ from this transaction
    2. Liking fan pages (as opposed to product pages) is growing since this opens a 2 way communication. for e.g. Macys launched a million dollar makeover event [to register u must like their fan page] this then allows them to post stuff to you on your wall that u and your followers can see. http://www.facebook.com/Macys

    Deals are all the rage and shoppers love them. Groupon (and one hears google plans on joining the party) and myriads of clones are satisfying this in a one-deal-a-day dosage.

    As keywords became the ‘metaphor’ for the search interface i.e. Google v. Yahoo circa 1999 and spawned a whole search eco-system, I suspect deals will be the new ‘engagement metaphor’ i.e. Groupon(s) v. Facebook and be the driver for the new shopper 2-way engagement ecosystem

    S. Sriram

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  1. [...] many years of hearing that Facebook will change how consumers shop, the Shop.org Think Tank posed the question: is it really driving direct business and customers for retailers? We’d love to hear your [...]

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