Social media has evolved a lot over the past 5 years that I have been involved with marketing it, and I think that we are now beginning to see the maturing of the medium (much like what happened with the internet as a medium or with websites).
Brands entered social media out of curiosity and as a way to connect with consumers and provide general support. Once the power of the medium was realized businesses started focusing actively on building relationships and collecting followers and fans. Now, as social media continues to evolve, businesses are realizing the potential for commerce.
Here are 5 companies doing cool things with Facebook commerce:
1. E-Gifting (E-Gift Social)
E-gift social is a social media commerce platform that allows you to send specific gifts to friends. Rather than sending a generic gift card, you can send a friend a coupon for a specific item. For example, ColdStone allows you to send a coupon for a free milkshake or sundae to a friend. So, if you have a friend who is having a bad day, or a birthday, or has news to celebrate you can send them ice cream for $5 in just a few minutes. I love this application because it brings the personal touch of a personal gift to Facebook.
E-Gift Social isn’t at self-serve plug and play mode yet. I tried to set one up, and you have to call and speak to their sales team to get started.
2. Coupsmart Coupons
Coupsmart is a company that I am working with that has a cool social media coupon platform with viral spread built-in. You can create standard coupons for your Facebook page (like $5 off a large pizza) or provide a better incentive (like $10 off or a free pizza) for sharing the coupon with friends through their walls, your wall or messaging. This application gives businesses the opportunity to reward sharing and encourage their coupons to spread through the social graph.
In addition, they are working on a platform that drives customers to become fans in-store. We all know that in-store incentives is the best way to make your customers your fans, and the soon-to-be-released platform will provide customers with an incentive on the spot for becoming a fan.
3. Selling on Social Media (Kalio)
There are many applications that allow businesses to sell directly on their Facebook pages. This is the newest trend for Facebook because studies show that consumers are more likely to take action if they don’t have to leave Facebook. This means that customers are more likely to buy if they can do it through your Fan Page directly in Facebook vs. having to click through to your site. Kalio Commerce integrates Facebook commerce with the existing ecommerce back-ends of their clients.
The main challenge with Facebook commerce is making it easy to navigate and find products while working within the Facebook framework. Businesses should probably consider selling their most popular products on Facebook vs. trying to bring the entire store online.
4. Email Opt-Ins
Using Facebook to drive opt-ins to your email campaign can be a huge win if you have an effective email marketing campaign. With the new iframes for Facebook you can easily add an email opt-in box to your Facebook page (no app required).
5. Contests (WildFire)
If you run any kind of contest involving Facebook, you have to run it through a third party application. Wildfire is one of the leading Facebook contest platforms that allows you to quickly and easily run a contest on Facebook for a very low cost (starting at $5/contest plus a per day charge). Contests can help keep your fans engaged and excited and can be a great way to grow your Facebook fan base.