My position is this:
There are too many examples to list of those who are not using good judgment and common sense when it comes to advantaging their business using Facebook. Instead of listing those, I am sharing programs that are more good than bad. When you evaluate Facebook programming, to decide if it is good or bad, ask yourself this simple question: What is the relevant, compelling consumer problem solved?
Facebook on Your Site
Example 1: The Amazon Facebook experience (not Facebook Amazon experience).
If you haven't experienced Amazon's Facebook experience, try it now. Go to Amazon.com, click on your Amazon.com link above the search box (image 1), and use the Facebook Connect on the right-hand side of the page (image 2).
Experience a personalized Amazon.com experience – your Facebook friends with upcoming birthdays (1), what's popular with them (2), and recommendations for music, movies, and books for you based on your Facebook profile data (3 and 4).
Good or Bad?
Is there a relevant and compelling consumer problem solved? Absolutely. Facebook is the consumers' profile on the Web. Amazon has personalized the shopping experience through Facebook Connect. My profile is now in my shopping experience and I didn't need to enter a list of family names, birthdays, and what (I think) they like. I don't miss any of my nieces' and nephews' birthdays, as a result. Amazon enabled me to easily purchase a relevant product or a gift card, letting my nieces and nephews know I'm thinking about and love them. Problem solved.
Example 2: The Step2 Facebook experience in customer reviews.
Several retailers, including Step2, have materially enhanced the customer reviews on their product pages with Facebook Connect. Customer reviews is the user-generated content (UGC) that drives SEO and conversion.
Good or Bad?
Is there a relevant and compelling consumer problem solved? Yes. Consumers want objective reviews from other consumers relevant to them, and authentic, real reviews they can trust are critical. The "like" button (1) shows me how many people have endorsed the product and whether they're in my network. The reviewers' Facebook profile (2) gives me that information to know a mom, like me, endorses this product. I can also comment on this product (3), stimulating the conversation with my friends on Facebook. Step2 increases the relevance to me, using Facebook, and my trust in the review, giving me confidence to click the "add to cart button." Problem solved.
Your Offer on Facebook: The New Storefront
Example 1: Sierra Trading Post.
More retailers have launched storefronts on their fan pages in the past two quarters. Sierra Trading Post is one who has done it well because it has applied sound consumer shopping scenarios and executed the fundamentals better than others selling from the Facebook fan page. There are not as many proven tools to drive traffic to the fan page vs. one's site (no Google SEO, for example). As such, when one is successful getting a consumer to one's storefront on Facebook, using proven conversion tools is key.
Good or Bad?
Is there a relevant and compelling consumer problem solved? Yes. Sierra Trading Post shows upfront deals, what's new, and incorporates the social content consumers use most in their shopping process: the customer review. Since Facebook is the social network consumers use most, those retailers and brands who do have a storefront, but do not include the social content consumers rely on (a fundamental conversion driver, the review) are not using common sense. In this case, I can easily see this is a 4.5 star product, has 25 reviews, a "pros" tag, that this shoe runs true to size and width, as commented on by 20-plus consumers who've purchased the product, and a snapshot summary. This is core to the information I need to purchase this product. Problem solved.
Example 2: AT&T
AT&T has 1.3 millions fans, an impressive number. In my view, AT&T needs every brand, marketing, and sales tool to work very hard for the company as the competitive intensity in this category is high, the consumer has the choice to pick Verizon instead of AT&T for the number one smartphone, the iPhone, and the AT&T brand is seen as unreliable by many consumers (too many dropped calls). As such, using the fan page to increase the brand reputation, increasing the attribute around reliability and quality, and communicate its offering is an opportunity. But, it didn't use common sense and fell short.
Is there a relevant and compelling consumer problem solved? You decide. Following is why the answer is not a straightforward, "yes."
Problem solved? You decide.
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Cathy has over 20 years of experience in both multichannel and online retail and a deep understanding of consumer needs and goals. Cathy's proven track record spans a range of industries and companies, from start-up ventures to multibillion dollar operations. Cathy is currently a Board Member at Ulta Beauty (ULTA), the largest beauty retailer that provides one-stop shopping for prestige, mass, and salon products and salon services in the United States. She has served as SVP, marketing & sales at PowerReviews, the world's most widely deployed social commerce platform, where she was responsible for overseeing the company's rapid customer and revenue growth. Prior to PowerReviews, Cathy held executive-level positions at Walmart: chief marketing officer Walmart.com, vice president of market development, global e-commerce, and vice president of product management and multichannel integration. Ms. Halligan has also held executive positions with leading retailers Williams-Sonoma, Gymboree, and Blue Nile, and was an associate partner at Prophet, a leading management consulting firm. She started her career as a marketing coordinator at Lands' End.
For real-time social commerce news and updates, follow Cathy on Twitter at @CathyHalligan.