Facebook was created as a way for friends to stay in touch with each other. It has evolved to allow businesses to do the same with their customers. E-commerce transactions are known for their impersonal service and Facebook allows organisations to give their online customers a more friendly experience, similar to what they might have if they shopped in store or ordered over the telephone. Facebook offers several services designed for this purpose, i.e. business pages, FacebookAds, the ‘Like’ button, applications to integrate feeds from other social media accounts into the business page and the social graph – allowing access to various objects in Facebook, i.e profiles, and how they are connected. This ‘friendly service’ encourages Facebook users to become customers of the business that is using them.
According to www.digitalbuzzblog.com, two thirds of the comScores US top 100 websites and half of the Global Top 100 websites have implemented Facebook Connect, which allows businesses to use the aforementioned business services to make their websites more social. Starbucks in number 6 in the Top 10 Facebook pages with 6,182,093 Fans according to digitalbuzzblog.com, showing its global popularity with an online status. On their US Facebook business page, a user can send a Starbucks gift voucher to their friends, linking a Facebook recommendation to potential business growth. Their UK business page also includes a ‘Create Your Own Beverage’ game, involving customers in the fun side of Starbucks and a link to their loyalty programme on their website, encouraging participation and growth.
Giving customers a more friendly online experience can contribute to growth as many retailers have shown. The new phenomenon of ‘social shopping’ has been embraced by Facebook in trying to incorporate the missing social element in online shopping. The group buying website, Groupon, is one of many which allow the use of Facebook log in details to register with them, saving time for the user and an automatic connection to the Groupon Facebook page. Groupon, where people sign up for discounted offers and once the required number have registered the deal is then emailed to them in the form of a voucher, is said to be the fastest growing company ever, with 5 million users in the UK alone. It claims that this growth is mostly down to web-based recommendations with people seeing a deal and recommending it to their online friends. Groupon encourages this by offering £6 credit for every recommendation given that is followed up, and has a link on its website to enable users to post recommendations directly onto their own Facebook wall. Superdrug provide a link on their Business page to their Youtube channel, demonstrating how to use their products and also have a section called ‘Insiders’, which is a link to customer reviews on superdrugloves.com. These reviews and demonstrations both encourage shoppers to join in and buy.
Using Facebook to increase the growth of business is not just limited to online shopping. Levis uses a “social store front” technique to influence their supply chain. They offer their fans pictures of jeans that their friends may have “liked” (using the Facebook button) and then use the statistics to alter how much of which product is stocked wear. For example, if more Londoners are “liking” the bootcut style and Mancunians are “liking” the skinny jeans, stock can be adjusted to reflect this in these areas. This means that customers can be assured that the particular item they want will be in stock where it is most convenient for them, and in turn, will increase their likelihood of buying said item.
Given the success of Facebook with business growth, it is not surprising that its commercial use is now accepted as a genuine business technique. It is associated with the SEO Feeder Strategy, where the creation of multiple websites to drive traffic and page rank back to the website that a marketer wants to boost. It is generally accepted that a Fan Page will have an unstoppable By using Fan Pages, a business can create a viral system and direct people to their Facebook business page and in turn onto their main website. The Facebook business page must fit the demographic, justify the benefits of joining it and engage with fans so they feel comfortable enough to join in a discussion or add a comment. Lush Cosmetics have utilised this by directing Fans to their own online forum for their customers, which offers limited edition sales and communications with high up staff, including the CEO, Mark Constantine Feeling appreciated by the top staff and that they are listened to can encourage potential customers to buy. This demonstrates that fact that once a Facebook business page has begun to flourish, the Fans can be appealed to act through links to new products and offers which will result in collecting their presence and in turn will lead to sales. Syncapse, on looking at Starbucks and Macdonalds, have found that Facebook fans generally spent an average of $35.92 more than non-fans. It concluded that Facebook fans are 28% more likely to continue using a brand compared to non-fans, which shows that Facebook is a valuable asset for a business to have.
Talking to an audience in their own language and in terms that they will understand will see the online business reaping the rewards. E-commerce provides an efficient service for customers, yet so far it has been an impersonal one. Facebook Connect solves that problem by allowing online customers to interact with the business on their own terms and when it suits them. Using Facebook as a business clearly has monetary rewards with Fans being more likely to spend more money as well as recommending to others, which can in turn lead to further monetary growth for the organisation.