Liking, Wanting, and Buying on Facebook

Since the launch of Facebook “likes” marketers have scrambled to associate a dollar value to the “like.” How much is a Facebook “like” worth and how do you translate that to a customer purchase or a customer booking directly from Facebook? In a lot of cases the answer is not clear-cut.

A recent Forrester report ran case studies on four prominent brands – Best Buy, BlackBerry, Walmart, and Coca-Cola – to determine how “likes” result in purchases, consideration, or recommendations.

“For all four brands – Best Buy, Coca-Cola, BlackBerry, and Walmart – a Facebook fan has a significantly higher probability of making all of these brand interactions. Smartphone owners who are Facebook fans of BlackBerry, for example, are 5.6 times more likely to have made a purchase from BlackBerry in the past 12 months than non-fans, with everything else held equal. And Facebook fans of Best Buy are about twice as likely to purchase from and recommend Best Buy. In the case of Coca-Cola, even though 71% of online Americans purchase the product, Facebook fans have a probability of 95% of doing so.”

There is now a rumor that Facebook will be introducing the “want” button, leaked through Tom Waddington, a developer for the website Cut Out + Keep. The “want” button supposedly will only work with Open Graph objects marked as “products.”

want-button

Just because a consumer “likes” something doesn’t mean that she is going to buy it, but if she “wants” something will she buy it? With a “want” button brands will able to distinguish between products their consumers like and items that their consumers perhaps want to buy.

facebook-commerce

Facebook certainly seems to be clearing the path to purchase with the recent announcement, allowing users to shop with their own currency rather than Facebook Credits. Facebook is abandoning its virtual currency, “credits,” and adopting real currency, such as dollars, pounds, or rupees.

Here’s an explanation of the currency change that Facebook announced on its developer blog:

“By supporting pricing in local currency, we hope to simplify the purchase experience, give you more flexibility, and make it easier to reach a global audience of Facebook users who want a way to pay for your apps and games in their local currency. With local pricing, you will be able to set more granular and consistent prices for non-US users and price the same item differently on a market-by-market basis.”

Desire-based data around the intent to purchase with a “want” button could be a key way for the social network and brands to move toward social commerce adoption. A few questions come to mind when using the word “want.” Will the “want” button make it easy for e-commerce and other sites to implement this type of Facebook functionality? Will Facebook have an ad product giving marketers the ability to directly target users who “want” their product? Will Facebook enable advertisers to offer discount coupons to users who have expressed the desire to “want” a product?

Knowing what consumers “want” and being able to act on the “want” is certainly an interesting feature for advertisers. Only time will tell, but wanting certainly seems stronger than liking when it comes to purchase intent.

This column was originally published on July 3, 2012.

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