The Facebook for Sales Playbook

The prevailing view is that social media is for building long-term relationships with consumers rather than short-term sales.

There are, however, ways for brands and retailers to use Facebook to drive direct sales, as brands like Home Depot, Avon and Converse are proving it’s possible. Digiday tapped into the expertise of some social media experts for tactics brands can use to drive sales directly via Facebook.

1. Make an offer
Brands can use the Facebook Offers product to provide fans with discounts to redeem in-store, according to Sarah Sikowitz Hite, vp, group media director at 360i. Because fans can share with their friends, there’s potential for the offers to drive even more sales. Brands can also use offers in paid media, making sure that specific targets are exposed to their brand, and track these offers back to Facebook at redemption to value the channel.

Take what The Home Depot did during Black Friday 2011. Using the Facebook Offers product, Home Depot offered people special promotions, Black Friday alerts and how-to tips, which appeared in fans’ streams in exchange for a like. The deals and offers were tracked at the POS, giving Home Depot an idea of just how much business it was getting as a result of the effort.

2.  Run ads the right way
There’s lot of talk about social ads not working, but Facebook’s do work, at least for many marketers. Look no further than Zynga, which has relied on Facebook ads to build huge bases for its games. Brands can analyze their Facebook ads to track visits that turn into sales on the site. Direct-response messaging and targeting opens the door for identifying the most efficient ways to drive sales from the platform.

“Get creative and intelligent about your use of Facebook ads,” Borges said. “Use a healthy mix of sponsored stories and wall posts to drive word-of-mouth and ensure that the actions of your consumers and fans, especially as they pertain to point-of-purchase, are published and broadcast to their Facebook friends.”

A good example of Facebook ads that have worked to drive sales is CM Photographics. The small business generated nearly $40,000 in revenue directly from a $600 advertisement on Facebook.

3. Use apps for sales
Some brands are selling through apps that are promoted like content in their content calendars, seeding out the opportunity to buy into their fans’ newsfeed, which is where most users are consuming content these days. This approach is great for limited-time sales or promotions of a specific product or group of products, according to Orli LeWinter, director of social marketing strategy at 360i

Take what Avon’s sister brand Mark is doing. The company has set up a shopping app on Facebook that allows people to browse and buy items without ever leaving the platform. Additionally, when a consumer does make a purchase, it is broadcasted to all of their followers, which could potentially drive more sales.

4. Enable true social retailing
Brands can create programs that turn their fans into salespeople, LeWinter suggested. Because Facebook is built on peer-to-peer socialization and communication, this approach can get your product endorsed by consumers themselves, making it more compelling.

In December, Converse asked its 20 million Facebook fans to create and then share personalized training shoes, ultimately putting the custom-made shoes onto people’s Facebook stream and pushing the product out to all of their friends.

“Incorporate social hooks at every touch-point of your brand in order to drive consumers to the point-of-purchase through the line,” said Christian Borges, vp of marketing at MRY. “Where possible, convert and sell within the Facebook brand page without the customer needing to go off-platform and leave your brand page. This lowers the purchase barrier and will help increase conversions. Integrating post-purchase sharing functions — both online and offline — will also help amplify these actions.”

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