Saturday, April 21, 2012

Facebook for eCommerce: It's about customer retention, not acquisition.

Any social media pro can tell you that every business owner asks them the same question: “How can I get more Facebook fans?”
There are lots of answers. Post on your wall more often, or less often, or support your page with ads (hold on to that last thought). But from where I sit, many people running Facebook Pages are missing an easy answer:
The surest way to get more Facebook fans may be to get more customers.
It seems backward, right? Plenty of businesses are after more fans assuming they can turn them into new customers. What these enthusiastic business owners could be missing, though, is that Facebook is at its heart a retention and a loyalty platform—not an acquisition tool.
The harsh truth is that unless you’re Taylor Swift or MTV, it’s unlikely that huge numbers of people will find your Page. You’re another grain of sand on the vast beaches of Facebook—which now has between 35-40 million Pages—and unless you’re investing in ads there’s probably only one group that’s going to find your Page, and then care enough to Like it: Your customers. Your loyal, wonderful customers.
The numbers back it up, too. DDB’s 2010 social media survey found that, on average, 84% of a Page’s fans are existing customers. Trying to convert all your fans into customers might thus be a waste of your time (and theirs, too).
But that problem is just an opportunity to refocus your efforts. Instead of focusing on sales messages, try using Facebook the same way you run an email campaign. Post about new products. Get feedback from your most dedicated advocates about what features they’re looking for. Make your Facebook Page a focus group for everything about your brand, and you just might get more value than if you drum up a few thousand fans who never intend to buy from you.
The best candidates to buy from your store are likely those who have bought before—and even better are those who also decided they like you enough to, well, Like you. Using social media for retention lets you focus on generating repeat buys. For many businesses, a majority of sales (sometimes as much as 80%) come from repeat customers, and yet this group tends to be overlooked. It’s true in theory that repeat customers are cheaper to serve than new customers; it’s also true in real life.
In fact, your best bet for acquiring new customers via Facebook may be to post content that these loyal customers share with their friends—thus mobilizing your customers/fans as a team of brand advocates.
So before you go investing your whole marketing budget in Facebook ads to get new fans, consider reaching out to your customers first. Let them be the core of your Facebook fan base. Then decide if you have enough to offer to non-customers (good content from a blog, for example) to even try to get them on board. You might be happier talking to just your loyal, happy buyers and focusing on bringing them back to your store.
And while you’re at it, you should go Like Amazon Webstore on Facebook. We, uh, need more fans.

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