The web was buzzing last week with news of the Facebook IPO. Much of the news seemed to focus around Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth and the new crop of millionaires that will be made out of Facebook employees. Silicon Valley exotic car dealers and real estate agents have probably been lined up outside Facebook HQ handing out business cards. With Facebook’s estimated valuation now a staggering $75 to $100 billion you may be wondering how on earth a company with revenues of $3.7 billion could be with that much. I certainly am.
When you look at the stats surrounding Facebook, you realize that their potential to grow revenue is equally as staggering. For instance, Facebook now has 845 million active users which represents a 45 percent increase since 2010. More than half of their users return to the site each day. And these users have produced an average of 2.7 billion “likes” and comments each day in the last three months of 2011. Now, when you consider the wealth of information Facebook has about it’s users and how they enable advertisers to target based on this, you begin to see the potential for a much greater share of advertising dollars. I think it’s only a matter of time before brand advertisers and businesses discover this and start fighting over the ad inventory as they now do on Google.
But what about retailers? How can they cash in on Facebook’s success? To start with, retailers need to have a presence on Facebook by building a page. I know this is obvious and hard to imagine that any retailer has not yet claimed their brand on Facebook but I still come across retailers who have not. Having a page on Facebook enables their massive audience to “Like” your brand and start sharing what they think of you with their friends.
The ability to post comments about your store on Facebook has become a powerful tool for retailers to generate content from their customers. For example, asking a question on your Facebook wall to find out what your fans like most about a particular product is a great way to generate positive feedback and endorsement for that product. Then, what makes this even more powerful is when you have your site search technology crawl these Facebook posts and make them available in your site search results. Retailers can now instantly reach out to their most engaged brand advocates and ask them all sorts of questions. Questions like how they are using products, what advice they have for others for selecting the best product for a particular solution, what tips they have for using your products, and on and on. All of this fantastic content can them be made available to new visitors through site search.
To encourage more sharing, retailers have begun placing Facebook like buttons on the product pages. This practice has exploded in the past year to the point where it feels hard to find retailers who don’t include a Like button. Generating likes for your products shows an even deeper engagement from your customers and is a much more powerful way to drive sales. The challenge is to actually get your customers to click the like button. It seems consumer adoption of this has been relatively low.
One thing retailers like FTD.com have done to grow their product like activity is incorporate the Like button directly into their site search results. This gives it much more visibility and from a usability perspective is much easier for people to click like as they browse products in search results. There’s even a added usability benefit as retailers have incorporated the ability to sort search results by the number of likes. I expect that the desire to sort by likes might actually become more popular than sorting by product star ratings. And, this added functionality will encourage that many more consumers to cast their vote for a product by clicking the like button.
The final tip I would have for cashing in on Facebook’s popularity is to enable those who visit your page on Facebook to initiate a search of your product catalog easily right from within your page. This can be done by adding a tab on your page that includes a search box and incorporating the search functionality into your other custom tabs such as your Facebook default page. Here’s an example from Chaparral Motorsports.