Your brand may have thousands of Facebook Likes…but are you turning those Likes into store purchases? Can you directly link a portion of your sales back to Facebook fans?
If you answered no, recent Facebook acquisitions could help your social presence earn a more direct return on investment.
In its current form, Facebook’s value rests in marketing over sales. It is a platform of massive scale (the second most-trafficked site in the world), where consumers freely promote brand awareness and give real-time feedback. Facebook begins the sales process, but does not close the deal. However, with the recently absorbed Karma, Glancee, and Tagtile, Facebook is poised to turn mass awareness into sales conversions. ‘Like’ can lead all the way to ‘buy,’ without leaving the social network.
Through local offerings, enhanced mobile couponing, and purchasing that takes place directly on Facebook, the social network is transitioning brand fans from advocates to spenders. IQ has profiled the Facebook company acquisitions that could bridge the gap between a brand’s social fans and its buyers:
Purchased in May, Karma re-launched in September as Facebook Gifts. “Gifts” allows Facebook users to send one another digital or physical presents, moving gift ideas from Facebook to the recipient’s front door.
Users will purchase real goods—not just virtual services—through Facebook. The strong eCommerce play will provide a sales metric directly associated with Facebook (useful for evaluating social ad spend) and will help to drive Facebook users to become purchasers. Forbes notes that “while e-commerce through social networking sites comprised a very small portion of total online retail sales in previous years, the market is expected to grow from around $5 billion in 2011 to around $30 billion in 2015. We expect this number to continue to grow beyond 2015 as well.” The next time Facebook reminds you of a friend’s birthday, why not send a $5 Starbucks card?
As an independent app, Glancee notified users when they were near people with similar interests. While Facebook has not yet revealed its plans for Glancee, the app holds potential for location-based sales.
Facebook’s earlier attempt at local deals, Facebook Places, failed to compete with Foursquare. However, the Glancee technology could succeed through user convenience. Unlike Facebook Places (or Foursquare), Glancee automatically checks in users through their phone’s GPS location data. With the Glancee technology aimed a businesses—the intended goal of Facebook Places—a user that likes Chinese food would be notified whenever a Chinese restaurant is nearby. While Glancee’s location technology is not as commerce-ready as Facebook Gifts, it should be monitored for future chances to drive Facebook users to nearby stores.
Forbes calls Tagtile “a mobile marketing and loyalty rewards service targeted at small businesses and merchants.” For Facebook, it could be a key to popularizing the Facebook Offers couponing program. While independently operated, Tagtile’s main feature was that mobile users could walk into a store & claim offers by swiping their phone over a Tagtile cube.
The current version of Facebook Offers does not feature Tagtiles in action, but Offers began using barcodes only weeks ago and is actively growing in terms of mobile service. Tagtile may introduce an easy way to track in-store redemptions of Facebook coupons—without forcing users to print their offer or hand their phone over to a cashier. Claiming a deal from Facebook (and possibly building up store loyalty points) can be accomplished with a simple swipe, just like a credit card.
Overall, the above acquisitions are a boost to Facebook’s direct sales model. Facebook currently serves marketers with indirect benefit—listening to the consumer, responding to consumer complaints, spurring friend-to-friend influence—but these measures can be difficult to link back to sales figures. With new technology that moves Facebook users to purchase, the social networking platform is poised to become a sales platform as well.
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