A subset of marketers now have it between their teeth that the next big thing is buying things using Facebook. This article at econsultancy gives the example of ASOS being the first to launch a fully fledged store front on their Facebook Page. Is this the future of commerce? – I think not, and it shows a misunderstanding of Facebook’s strategy.
When marketers look at Facebook they see
- A big online marketing portal where customer interact with your brand
- A proxy web page where you can interact with a customer without having to put them through a long winded sign up process
- Flavour of the week.
To be fair to the marketers, Facebook is all those things, but if Social Commerce isn’t making ASOS any money then how should Facebook and Commerce go together? To answer that, we need to look at how Facebook see themselves.
What do Facebook see themselves as?
Facebook see themselves as internet infrastructure. The would like to own identity, meaning that you won’t have to sign up for another service again if you have a Facebook account. To Facebook it makes perfect sense that anyone starting a business today, would simply allow you to log in using your existing Facebook identity.
This gives Facebook a lot of data.
Facebook use their data to define the relationship between entities. So for example
- Person likes Brand
- Person listens to song
- Person attends event
- Person watches movie
Using verbs is the big thing I took from the #f8 conference. Going beyond like to “listened to”, “watched”, “attended”. As a brand, this is the next logical evolution of using Facebook. Not only can you engage your customers, you can see which customer interacted with which marketing activity or product. This is what Facebook call the “Open Graph”. It’s a word you’re going to hear a lot more of in the coming decade.
Where does this leave Facebook Commerce?
What’s missing from the list of entity relationships earlier?
- Person buys thing.
“Person bought ASOS Black Shoes” is something I can see other people clicking like and commenting on. It happens today, it’s just not automated. Yet your developers can build that, right now. If you already have that data in your database, it needs to be in the open graph.
This changes Edgerank significantly, because there are a ton of activities that customers were unsure about clicking “like” or “share” with. This new lower friction brand interaction is where the money is.
What’s next for Facebook and Retail?
Brands get lost in the Facebook page and think of it as a landing page. Contrast this with the new Nike running mobile app which updates a customer’s timeline with each run.
Applying that to online, or bricks and motar commerce; I’d consider
- What actions (verbs) to your customers do with your brand?
- Which of those brand interactions can you capture via the open graph?
- Which product interactions can you capture?
- How can you use mobile and facebook to add value?
- How can you use location and facebook to add value?
Imagination is the key. What are your thoughts for how to move someone from “viewed” to “bought”?