If you’ve leveraged the power of social media to drive sales to your ecommerce business, you will be excited to hear this news. Facebook’s unrolling of “Facebook Shops” opens up wide doors of opportunity to go beyond just advertising, and straight into conducting commerce on the premier social media site.
If you haven’t bothered to engage with social media to drum up business for your business, now is a good time to start. Trends indicate the shift in retailing toward online sales is a real deal, made more robust in this unplanned and uncertain time of restricted public movement due to a global pandemic. Analysts predict that once the situation evens out and stores reopen, a significant portion of commerce will continue to occur over the internet. Put simply, the barriers that made many hesitate in the days before Covid-19 are all but shattered.
Enter Facebook, always in search of ways to capitalize on any marketing trend. Their advertising revenues—gained from more than 8 million businesses—have been astronomical, and that in turn has led them to jump in with both feet, offering up a first-line sales platform for ecommerce vendors like you.
This new, cost-free feature allows businesses to set up product listings on their Facebook page, Instagram profile, and in stories or in ads. Future plans include direct sales through chat features of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct. Facebook owns all of these entities.
If you have woven Facebook into the menu of social media platforms you use to engage existing customers and attract new ones, you’ve noticed their somewhat annoying trend of endless alterations to both policy and offerings. The Mother of All social media networks, Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, a social media monopoly. That won’t be changing any time soon.
No one feels sorry for them, but it’s fair to acknowledge that Facebook executives who need to continually balance the need for revenues while keeping users happy face their share of challenges. And for an online platform that is now regulated by Federal and state entities because of its heavy volume of political content, it creates an ongoing need to shift gears.
In 2011, Facebook started forwarding only critical notifications through email, so as to cut down on high-volume inbox flooding. Photo tags, security, payment, and privacy notifications made the cut. Business owners who are accustomed to a high volume of email communications, but not having to access Facebook several times per day, will have made that adjustment.
Now there’s a new revision that business users need to be aware of. Beginning March 4, 2020, access to supported “Message Tags” after the standard 24-hour window (following the last customer contact) whittled down from 17 supported tags to three, plus an additional tag in beta. Message Tags facilitate one-to-one interactions with customers, including updates, customer service questions, promotions, and pretty much anything relative to your customer relationship.
With that pathway narrowing, it’s critical to build in adjustments that will maintain your presence on Facebook and keep you in good standing with the platform. In order to bypass the allowed 24-hour period, you must use these remaining tags with your messaging.
Having dedicated myriad blog entries to the intersection between ecommerce and the largest (and perhaps oldest) social media platform ever, we now pivot to discussing a new development that may solidify its strength as a go-to space for advertising.
Facebook is no longer floating the pretense that its primary goal is social networking. While that’s the carrot on its stick, the California-based company is creeping into every sector it sees as a potential revenue target. After buying up several ancillary companies and applications, it is now set to revolutionize electronic payments through a newfangled offering featuring currency of its own. It’s called Libra.
There are countless factors that apply, from regulatory, to profitability, to projected success. But the clear picture takes a shortcut for ecommerce vendors, and that is one that makes Facebook rise again to the top of the list of advertising venues you should consider.
The Bitcoin-like currency, which may be called Facebucks or Coin, won’t be exactly like crypto. And it won’t be shady and underground, susceptible to nefarious use. Libra will be woven into a payment system designed for the 2 billion worldwide Facebook users to centralize a monetary source within the Facebook platform by purchasing “tokens” to use for purchases outside of Facebook.
The good, and the better
For vendors who peddle online, this is intriguing. It means that in addition to the bevy of payment transfer options now in place, this is accessible through an app they may be using for multiple hours per day.
But payments may be made to any participating vendor, and if you’re smart, you’ll consider getting on board with Libra. Here’s why:
Facebook says it intends to eliminate the conventional transaction fees associated with credit card and debit card use. This will need to be absorbed into Facebook’s revenue structure, and presumably they have confidence that is doable without taking a huge hit.
It’s a windfall for merchants who are already comfy advertising on Facebook, and an enticement for others to hop on board.
Envision a Facebook user perusing their news feed, and coming across your sponsored ad. They see the photo; they click through to your site. Already having accessed you through Facebook, they may, according to Facebook, be in a FB State of Mind, and have no qualms remaining signed in and making a purchase using their Facebook currency.
Ecommerce vendors attempting to keep up with a litany of challenges in practical, technical, and non-tangible realms share a common objective: attracting attention and acquiring customers. Seasoned veterans have adapted organically, watching trends unfold over time. Newcomers scramble to digest a flux of information in a cost-effective manner, hoping to make investments that count.
This third in a series of blog entries establishes the importance of social media behemoth Facebook as a compelling place to market your goods. As with everything, there are pluses and minuses, and everything in-between.
With that out of the way, there is no discussion of advertising in 2019 that does not begin with Facebook. The giant of social media platforms is entering its 12th year as a pastime for a general audience, having started as a fun and easy way to connect with college classmates. Its exponential growth has myriad explanations, and one of them makes Facebook an utterly irresistible place to throw your ad dollars.
It’s called domination.
Monopoly may be too strong a word, but the US Department of Justice is targeting the California-based firm for anti-trust violations. It’s a familiar tune with Facebook stockholders; governments have come after Mark Zuckerberg’s company before and collected big fines. It’s also not news to those in the know. Zuckerberg faced protracted, high-profile litigation when he was accused of appropriating the idea earlier this century from a pair of twin brothers, and was forced to pay them handsomely in a landmark civil settlement.
How the granddaddy of all social media platforms may be your best advertising bet
Whether you’re a seasoned, high-volume ecommerce vendor, or a rookie who’s just starting out, chances are you will devote a significant amount of time toward mapping out an advertising strategy that hits the right balance of effectiveness and affordability. Visual advertising is the go-to for ecommerce; unlike other business models, consumers have little chance of finding you in the traditional ways. Social media—the center of all ecommerce, for obvious reasons—is the most effective method of moving your merchandise.
The name recognition of Facebook is practically indisputable. Though it’s a mix of positive and negative, it seems to be the cyber gathering spot they just can’t quit. With an estimated 2.4 billion active users worldwide, there is little doubt it will be a big draw for small- and mid-sized vendor companies for the foreseeable future.
We’ve already covered the recent shift in ad mechanics Facebook is imposing: The Incredible Shrinking Ad Size. Some businesses aren’t terribly concerned; others fear their strongest attribute to product depiction is its photographs, and if those are scaling down, it may decrease interest among potential customers.
But if the social media giant is still your favorite target for ad dollars, or if you’re still on the fence, here are some relative stats, and ways you can make the platform work for you. The essential difference between Google Ads and Facebook ads are searching vs. direct hits. Paid searches help customers find your site, while paid social advertising hopes to rope in new customers based on a specific product.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but words are powerful, and changes that hit the Facebook platform may be painful.
So say analysts reviewing new policies freshly implemented by the behemoth of all social media, and it could be a gigantic headache for those who write ad copy.
This shift in ad sizes was announced at a recent F8 conference, but the company has been somewhat stealth with respect to public information. Ad revenue is their bread and butter, naturally. And with more than 2 billion worldwide users, they are sharply focused on building a venue for paid advertisers, often at the expense of user experience. Nonetheless, the company continues to tweak its advertising options.
Here’s what’s happening: Facebook feed ads viewed in mobile mode (and let’s face it, few are using full-size computers these days) are shrinking. These “creative restrictions” make the image size and the amount of text smaller, with images reduced to a 4:5 aspect ratio from the current 2:3. Along with that is a text reduction from seven sentences to three – a tremendous drop by any measure.
Prioritizing ad copy words
Though users will be able to access more lines by clicking a “see more” link, the game is now changed. As anyone who has written for limited space platforms knows, the visible text is critical for engagement, and if that text is cut in less than half, it will be more important than ever to employ an economy of words with the most benefit.
With mobile devices already small in scale, that means even a typical one-liner with an inducement – the bread and butter of marketing lead-ins – won’t fit. And that hurts.
Beyond the written word, you’ll be dealing with a shrinking graphical allotment. This will require image redesigns, along with the judgment call on how small to make your overlay text.
The good news is that Facebook prepped for this sea change, perhaps to quell the tide of resistance. Their Video Creation Kit tool allows for a semi-automated process to make it easier through scaled image resizing. The kit also offers more templates that ostensibly provide flexibility to accommodate this curtailed space issue.
Facebook Business pages promote customer engagement, track demographics, and act as online window displays.
E-commerce retailers have countless ways of promoting themselves online. And leaning on social media should be a top priority in their content marketing strategy.
Facebook, in particular, acts as an online business card and offers a Facebook Business page. Plus, it’s absolutely free to set up!
Of course, you can pay for added extras like ads. Even if your e-commerce retail business has just launched, at the very least, claim your name to a page. It’s an economical marketing strategy.
The primary benefits of a Facebook Business pageAvailable are many benefits of owning a Facebook Business page, but here are the three basic ingredients. Retailers can:
Actively engage with customers. Communicate with your customer base and make long-term relationships. Build an interactive platform, and even use the integrate Facebook Messenger, to provide general information about your products, and address questions or suggestions. Even promote sales via pinned post or boosted post.
Monitor analytics for demographics. Understand your customers’ demographics and turn it to your advantage with Page Insights. Knowing this can allow you to tweak each post’s tone and content to appeal to and target your ideal customer base. Facebook collects user data so why not use it?
Drive traffic to a site. Once you understand your target audience, you can funnel customers directly to your website in the “About” section or even set up a Shop and Catalog feature within the page.
How to make the most out of a Facebook Business pageLet’s dive deeper into each of the above ingredients and demonstrate specifics on how they apply to an e-commerce retailer.
Use Groups and Polls
When engaging with your customers, groups and polls are both underrated tools on Facebook. But they can provide a lot of information on your customer base and how they view products.
With a Facebook Group, retailers can build a community around a relevant topic that your fan base is interested in discussing. For instance, if you sell rugs, create a group surrounding styles of rugs, best cleaning methods, and other home decor tips.
And inside your Facebook Group, you can occasionally create a poll. Doing so can offer tons of insight and value to your community. For instance, you could ask “What’s your favorite home decor style?” The answer not only tells your community what’s trending, but also give a hint on what rug styles will sell well this season. Win-win.
Spy on your competitors for research
This one ties into the analytics mentioned above. Not only can you monitor your customer base, but with the “pages to watch” report, you can also spy on your competitors.
You can track things like their total page likes, posts, and engagement (reactions, comments, and shares). You can even track competitors’ ads to see how they market themselves and how well each ad performs.
Funnel traffic to your e-commerce siteDriving traffic can also provide sales funnels for your e-commerce business. Inbound marketing is still an excellent strategy.
Check out our post on Facebook Ads to discover how to optimize and find your target audience.
Parting words on Facebook Business pageIt seems like Facebook’s algorithm changes quite frequently. More recently, it has listened to its own consumer base and made a point to limit the number of ads that come across our feeds.
As an e-commerce retailer, this may seem challenging. But there are better ways to engage with consumers than simply placing direct sales or promotional content under their nose.
Instead, retailers should focus on entertaining and fun consumer experience using groups and polls along with their Facebook Business page.
Find the perfect ad campaign to target your market audience.
As an e-commerce retailer, to target consumers and funnel them to your Facebook business page or even your website, you need to understand how to use Facebook ads to your utmost advantage.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the Facebook ad benefits, the types of campaigns best used for retailers, and talk about a few methods to display your product and more importantly—your brand.
Benefits of Facebook ads for e-commerce retailersFacebook ads are a powerful inbound marketing tool for driving traffic to your site. And it’s excellent for long-term growth.
Each ad campaign type uses cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) bidding, which offers a cost-effective way to attract new consumers for e-commerce retailers. Instead of paying for each click, retailers are charged per 1,000 views.
Marketing objectives: which campaign do you choose?When you decide to create a campaign and begin the setup process, expect to be asked: “What’s your marketing objective?”
Start by choosing one of the two available campaigns: Reach and Brand Awareness. The main difference between these two ads is this:
Reach ads essentially target the audience you need.
Because this type of ad is designed to reach the maximum viewers as possible, you get a “frequency cap” before it’s shown to the same person twice.
With this ad, you are also charged per impression—excellent for capturing the attention of a small audience.
Brand Awareness ads go a step further, casting a more widespread net.
If your brand is new, you may need to launch an ad campaign simply to get noticed. Facebook calls this a Brand Awareness ad.
It’s wise to go with Brand Awareness first. It grabs the attention of would-be consumers, who choose to “Follow” or “Like” your product, which will eventually help build demographics and drive more targeted—and profitable!—Reach ads.
Using ad recall lift optimization, your e-commerce business page will only present ads to users who are most likely to become customers (by maximizing reach and recall through impressions.)
You are also only charged per impression, not per click. And the bid is automatic.
Build out and direct ad viewers to a Product CatalogOne optimal way e-commerce retailers can take advantage of their Facebook business page is by launching “product catalog sales” campaigns.
Offering products for sale on a Facebook catalog is just a start. But when retailers set a “product catalog sales” campaign objective, it returns people to products in which they’ve shown previous interest.
Use Carousels to display products Available are several ways to capture the attention of your audience:
Out of the four, Carousels offer an excellent way to dangle products in front of potential consumers. This interactive ad format prompts Facebook users to swipe “cards” to view more products.
But what makes this style perfect for e-commerce retailers is that it allows you to display up to ten images or videos, optimizing your ad campaign! And on each “card,” you can highlight product details, create Call-to-Actions, and even link to different landing pages.
Let’s also assume for a second that you’re not a direct to consumer brand and instead sell directly to designers and other businesses. Even if you lack a product catalog on your Facebook business page, Carousels can provide a product story instead.
If you sell tableware, imagine each card featuring an image of a dining table as it’s prepared for guests. And the final card as everyone gathered around the table enjoying themselves.
Final thoughts on Facebook adsFacebook ads offer numerous ways to promote your brand to 2.32 billion monthly active users (MAU) worldwide. That’s an enormous amount of people.
But to reach the right people, it’s important to understand your brand and your target market audience. Fortunately, Facebook allows you to do both, tracking analytics and demographics. You might be surprised who your target audience is or who they become! So it’s also important to continuously monitor your analytics as you push those campaigns.
Now, what are you waiting for? Create your first Facebook ad!
Even if you are sworn to avoid being swallowed by the social media craze that consumes an inordinate amount of time and energy from a growing number of everyday people, you are a de facto participant if you run an ecommerce business. At the outset of Facebook’s transition from strictly a college kids’ platform to a worldwide social gathering place, few took it seriously enough to consider investing in marketing there. After all, it’s primarily for catching up with high school friends, developing a love life, and commiserating with fellow NFL fans when your team is on a downslide. Right?
Not anymore. Like any other viral entity, Facebook and other social media venues have fine-tuned the art of pitching to businesses. Meet Facebook Analytics, a handy tool provided by the social media platform that crunches data to specifically introduce you to interested parties by way of measuring visitor activity on your page.
The bad news first. Recently Facebook began limiting its “Audience Insight” feature with a new algorithm that restricts this data to users who have liked your page. It’s an unfortunate move in that it delineates potential followers and customers. This privacy-driven decision goes hand in hand with the company’s response to regulatory and consumer discontent. Rolling out Facebook Ads was a big step for the company, albeit to the dismay of many users hoping to escape incessant commercial advertising. But like you, they need revenues, and business owners should look seriously into the unique opportunity they present.
The ability to narrow ad targets to an appropriate audience is huge. You sell a line of hipster cosmetics for young’ns, so why waste your time placing ads on the news feeds of men in their 60s? Unless your role is to advertise jobs or housing, and you were caught up in the very recent debacle in which Facebook is facing charges by Federal authorities for suborning discrimination through demographic targeting (another story altogether), you’re free to select an audience most likely to warm to your goods.
Yet aside from advertising—or rather to supplement it—your Facebook page itself can yield important information that helps refine product offerings, gauge interest, and stay atop of a marketing plan that works.
Seeing a path to better revenues, and being a better business
By now every growing e-commerce entity has figured out the critical role social media plays in their business. It’s become a household pastime; a venue for people from all demographics who are connecting with the world through computers and devices.
The opportunities for marketing and branding are rich. And increasingly, the picture has become much rosier. Research conducted in 2018 showed that social media users made their most recent purchase directly through Facebook and their eBay Daily Deals. Facebook ran away with the biggest share of the pie, with Instagram coming in a close second.
Yet there is a demographic often left in the dust; one thought to be unable – disabled, as it were – to use social media.
That has changed. With technological developments in connectivity have come celebrated advances in bringing the Internet to people with varying degrees and types of disabilities. There are nearly 60 million of them in the U.S., and that number will grow as they age. They are players. They are shoppers. And they can be your best customers if given the chance.