Facebook commerce, or F-commerce, is the big buzzwords nowadays with analysts predicting that Facebook will drive more online sales than Amazon in a few years. While most of the current attention seems to be on Facebook storefronts, such as the ones just released by P&G, I believe online retailers will soon put their focus back on their own e-commerce sites when it comes to generating sales along the long tail of their catalog. Facebook may be a great place to promote a handful of marquee products, but when you have hundreds of thousands of products, Facebook prospects may be better served back at the farm.

The future of F-Commerce is off Facebook

Facebook’s Like button for websites is perhaps the most powerful long tail F-commerce enabler. It’s free and takes little technical effort to integrate across your entire product catalog. Whenever a Facebook member comes across a product with a Like button, a simple click makes them a “Fan” of that product, generating a Like Story in the News Feed of their friends. This is valuable as this free viral marketing channel not only creates band impressions, but also traffic back to the product page.

Spread the love

Depending on the amount of inbound traffic a product page receives, each product may only earn Likes in the single or double-digit range (although there are plenty examples of product pages with thousands of Likes). What’s important is the total number of Likes across the product catalog. These long tail Likes are very important because, other benefits aside, they each generate a high-visibility Like Story in the News Feed.

I would argue that for online retailers, Like Stories generated when Facebook members Like product (web) page are more valuable than Like Stories generated from Facebook pages. Consider these two Like Stories that appear in my friend’s News Feeds after I Like Dell’s Facebook Page vs. when I go to their website and like the XPS 15z Laptop.

If you were Dell, which message would you rather have me spread to my friends?

 

Joy in repetition

The other big benefit of Like Stories generated from the retailer’s website is that there is no limit to how many stories a visitor can trigger. Whenever I Like a product from an online retailer, a new Like Story is spread to my Facebook friends. Conversely, when I Like a Facebook page, that’s the end of my advocacy; it’s a single blip on the radar.

According to a February blog post by Blind Five Year Old, 28 % of the US top 100 online retailers have added the Like button to their product pages, and given the Like buttons’ rapid growth (10,000 new websites every day), I suspect the number to be higher now.

However, very few retailers have placed the Like button in prominent places on their product pages and are probably missing out on an incredible amount of free, viral exposure because of it.  (Good example of placement from Sephora, and here’s a no-no example from Dell where the Like button is buried below the fold.)

Once online retailers discover the strategic value of the Like button, they will re-design their pages to make the button as prominent as their own “Buy Now” button. At this point I predict online retailers will find that social traffic to their individual product pages drives sales more effectively than the traffic to their Facebook page. The implications for their media strategy should be significant.

That’s my 2 cents.

For my perspective on the Like Button’s cousin, the Send button, read Think Twice Before Implementing Facebook’s New  Send Button.