Today, Mashable published a story about brands shutting down the Facebook shops they had rushed to set-up. Apparently, they weren’t seeing the ROI they were hoping for.
From Mashable: A Bloomberg report this weekend pointed out that Gap, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and GameStop have all opened and closed shops on Facebook within the past year — undermining expectations that the social network will become a major revenue driver for retailers over the next decade.
To this, I have but one thing to say: This is not surprising at all. It once again demonstrates how myopically brands and businesses treat social media. In my earlier post this week, I posted about ‘Keeping It REAL in Social Media’. My second point discusses keeping social media engaging. When consulting brands and business about social media and how to make it work for you, I caution them to keep in mind that social media is like being at a dinner party. We’ve all been stuck beside a blowhard who wants only to talk about him/herself, never asks you any questions, and only wants to push her latest wares on you. Um, check please? Is this your brand on social media?
Many brands still are sitting at the proverbial dinner party table saying, “Hey, have you seen my stuff? Would you like to buy my stuff? I have great stuff. You should buy some.” And the shutting of these stores on Facebook proves that brands are still not hitting the mark with consumers when it comes to social media. Brands are still treating social media as if it about them—not the customer.
Moreover, I’m going to extend my argument further by stating that brands should NOT be setting up e-commerce sites on Facebook on any other social networking site. There is a very good reason for this. Business and brands need to realize that sites like Facebook, Twitter, even Pinterest (which is seeing huge traffic right now) are LEASED space. Dear brands, you do not own this space. It is leased to you by the third-party that can change/alter or modify their Terms of Service any time they choose. This is not going to be in your favour all the time.
Judging by the comments about the overall user experience about purchasing through Facebook in the Express case study, it left much to be desired. Apparently, Express built an entire e-commerce platform in-house to entice shoppers on Facebook. But buying online is tricky–especially for apparel. The money and resources Express spent on creating this could have been better spent to drive actual traffic and sales with an integrated traditional and digital media campaign directing buyers to their website. Why recreate the wheel? Makes no sense.
What I’m going to say may be controversial but I’m going to assert that any long-term successful brand needs to treat social networking sites as part of the overall journey NOT destination to their own website or location. Brands should be structuring their social media presence to drive traffic back to their websites, where ultimately, consumers purchase. Here is where the brand owns the space, controls what can be done with it, and captures (and owns its own) customer data. The customer’s interaction with your brand on social networks should be the set-up to the purchase phase. Facebook, a magazine ad, YouTube, or anything else is but a pit stop on the consumer’s journey to the ulitmate destination of your store’s check-out line.