Facebook commerce is nothing new, with 1-800-FLOWERS launching their Facebook store in 2009. There is no question that Facebook is ripe with promise when it comes to Facebook shopping. It makes sense that users would choose to shop where they socialize. eMarketer’s Krista Garcia states that more and more people are using sites as a one-stop shop for reading news, watching videos, listening to music, discovering products and shopping http://bit.ly/w9z9zA. It’s not like social media retail is a bad market either, with Booz & Company estimating $14 billion in goods will be sold through social media by 2015. So why not Facebook? Today, the concept struggles with the roadblocks put in its path.
1) Trustworthiness: It’s no secret that moms account for most of the household purchase decisions. While social media plays a role in their purchase decisions, it does not bridge the gap to the checkout. In a survey, 32% of moms surveyed rated a brand’s website as a trustworthy source of information while only 10% rated a Facebook site as trustworthy http://bit.ly/yquIfd. What can Facebook do to change this perception? Facebook needs to put together a marketing effort that builds trust in their web site and the information they provide. Whether that’s a commercial or a social media campaign, it needs to target moms so it can sway the rest of the tide. Moms are credible figures that are looked up to and trusted, and if they don’t trust something others aren’t likely to either.
2) Charity Image: Facebook has become the place for charity and philanthropy efforts. Common calls to action include likes that translate into donations, etc. 70% of moms in the same survey said they had liked a brand on Facebook to support its cause during the last year. It’s not just moms, people in general seem more willing to get behind causes on Facebook. As our news feeds are saturated with those kinds of efforts, hearing about any Facebook shopping experiences are rare and mainly nonexistent. The issue here is transferring this charity support into ongoing brand support with purchases. Perhaps starting with a tie-in to purchase something on a company’s Facebook charity site to support donations, instead of just liking the page, could be the answer. Either that or, like the concept of trustworthiness, it should be part of a Facebook image rebranding.
3) Currency: In the age of identity theft it’s not hard to see why this one’s an issue. MediaPost’s Mark Walsh cites a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Digitas that finds 55% of social media users aren’t comfortable giving credit card information http://bit.ly/wCHNeD. Even more notable, 74% indicate that they wouldn’t use social currency to make purchases on social media sites either. Perhaps some kind of gift card is in order. I personally don’t like using my credit card to make iTunes purchases, and feel more comfortable using a gift card that doesn’t have any trace of personal information attached to it. Definitely something to think about if retailers are going to get social media users to ‘cough up the dough’ to buy products on social media sites.
Whatever the answers to solving these roadblocks may be, it’s clear that Facebook faces roadblocks and needs to address them in order to see its commerce take off. Any attitude adjustment towards social media shopping is going to be the result of thoughtful, targeted efforts to help consumers see Facebook, and these issues, in a different light. Could social media shopping be the ‘wave of the future’? Perhaps, but in order for something to become a trend and grow it needs to earn acceptance. Facebook is king of connecting people, now it needs to put that to work and build solid connections with its users.