Bloomberg published an article today about the poor performance of Facebook Storefronts and how retailers are closing them amid “apathy.” It was one more article in a series of articles downplaying the value of Facebook to retailers. The Bloomberg article and others like it were correct to say Facebook stores have not sold millions of orders. However, they failed to articulate what the REAL opportunity is for social commerce.
In 2009, my company 8thBridge opened the very first store on Facebook, for 1-800-Flowers. It was a simple idea: Facebook users could visit the brand’s Facebook Page, review offers and make a purchase without leaving the experience. Later, we even made it possible to buy something directly within your Facebook News Feed.
You didn’t even need to leave your Facebook home page to buy something! The store came to you. Given Web users spend 53% of their online time on Facebook we should make millions … right?
The best way to monetize social media is to empower people to promote products to their friends not for brands to spam you on Facebook. Online shopping experiences are better when they’re social.
Ticketmaster didn’t engage in Social Commerce to replicate their website on Facebook. They set out to make it easier for us to discover upcoming concerts from our Facebook friends just like we do offline. Now, it is also easier to find someone to go to a concert because you can invite your friends right within the ticket purchase flow.
Delta Airlines understands how difficult it is to plan travel with friends and family. They give Facebook users a better way to plan group travel. If you’ve ever tried coordinating a trip with your friends you know what a nightmare it is. Now the process is much easier because you can coordinate it all within Facebook. Yes, you can buy flights on Facebook from Delta Airlines but that’s not the only goal – its the result of creating a better experience for people.
Almost 90% of the shopping activity we’ve tracked on Facebook over the last 6+ months has been between friends sharing things with other friends.
People drive social commerce (not brands).
Innovative brands like Ticketmaster and Delta Airlines have recognized that what they really need to do is simply get out of the way. If they just give people an easier way to express how we feel about them and their offers with our friends – we will.
Last month, Facebook rolled out major new enhancements to their Open Graph platform that give brands exactly what they needed to empower this advocacy. It’s now possible to deeply integrate shopping and social media anywhere on the web – not just on the Facebook website.
Social Commerce has grown up and gone multi-channel.
People that visit Open Graph-integrated websites can now easily tell their Facebook friends if they “love, want, own, etc.” an item for sale or are “listening” to a band or “reading” an article.
Early adopters of the new Open Graph include Spotify, the Washington Post, Fab.com and Ticketmaster. These brands have seen their website traffic increase 50% to 300% from Facebook in just a few months.
This is dramatically more traffic than anything the industry has seen produced by social media up to this point. Certainly, the increased traffic adds immediate tangible value but there is a much bigger opportunity on the horizon.
Tomorrow’s online shopping experience will look very different than the product catalog-specific experience we have today. The rich intent data available via the Open Graph will enable brands to usher in a new era of ecommerce that is shaped by people and around people.
This is the most exciting innovation to hit e-commerce since its birth in the “Nineties! Most of the brands working in this space are anything but apathetic.
by Wade Gerten, Founder & CEO of 8thBridge