Today, thanks to the exploding growth of Facebook’s Open Graph and the persistence of web connectivity, the opportunity to socialize online shopping experiences is immense: 81% of consumers already rely on social networking for purchasing advice from friends and family. By optimizing owned and paid channels for shareability, brands can drive awareness and sales by enabling products to flow through social channels.
Social Plug-ins, Social Objects
There is overwhelming evidence that recommendations from friends drive traffic and sales. To d ate, millions of sites have integrated Facebook Connect and similar plug-ins since these APIs were released more than three years ago, and buttons on products, photos, news stories, etc. have been clicked billions of times since then. “Tweet” and “like” buttons are standard issue on most e-commerce sites, but brands are expanding the practice.
• 8thBridge’s Graphite plug-in is designed to integrate a Facebook-powered social layer on top of retailers’ existing e-commerce channels in the form of customizable buttons that appear to look, feel, and read in a way that’s consistent with the brand. Instead of “liking” a dress on Oscar de la Renta’s elegant site, consumers can express more precise relationships such as “want,” “need,” and “obsessed.” The Graphite APIs enable these actions to be transformed into shoppable stories that appear on Facebook’s news feed and timeline and expand to let friends zoom in on the product and see related items. 8thBridge also makes it possible to integrate interest data into existing marketing strategies, so users who “want” an item might receive an email when that particular item goes on sale.
• Every item on Sephora’s online store now has a “Pin It” button so items can quickly be added to a user’s Pinterest pinboard. Shoppers can even browse the Pinterest boards of Sephora employees to see what products are their favorites.
• In fall 2012 Facebook began testing a new feature called “Collections,” which allows retailers to post product photos with “Want” or “Collect” buttons, as well as links to buy from their sites. Pottery Barn and Michael Kors were among the first brands to experiment.
Consumer reviews and recommendations have been around since the web’s early innings and continue to drive e-commerce. Thanks to social integration and P2P platforms, companies are finding new ways to drive participation and make user commentary more useful for shoppers.
• Vintage-inspired retailer ModCloth has integrated a live-chat feature that allows customers to submit personal data and receive recommendations. As part of this Facebook-enabled service, the ModStylists program allows shoppers to request personalized style advice (e.g., tips for a tasteful, ’50s-inspired cocktail dress), and they can choose to give the stylist access to past ModCloth purchase history, “loved” items, and current wish lists, etc.