Time to read: 3 minutes. Which answer would you rather have? “How to measure the true value of a Facebook fan” or “How retailers are actually selling on Facebook.” The answer seems obvious. But if everyone wants to learn how to sell on Facebook why are so many retailers obsessed with the “value of a friend/fan?” Here are 3 tips on how to get back on track — sell off-the-hook with Facebook.
Step #1: Admit we’ve lost track of the goal
Welcome to Retailers Anonymous. Step one: Admit we lost track of the goal.
Now I’m not belittling anyone who seeks to understand “value of Facebook friends or fans.” But I wonder if selling on Facebook starts with understanding the value of a fan or friend. Or if it starts with designing behaviors that help guide empowered customers toward sales. Actually I don’t wonder. I think it does.
But I’m crazier. I think Web retailers want to know how to sell on Facebook. We just got distracted. We DO want to know — stuff like how to design conversations with fans in ways that generate customer behaviors. I believe most Web retailers are yearning to help customers find answers to questions — via the products and services they sell. They’ve just lost track of the goal.
Step #1(b): Admit we’ve been following the wrong leaders
Surprising research tells us most retailers are focusing on the value of fans. And with good reason. I’ll admit. No, they’re not crazy either. They’re being told that “value of fans” matters by every social media guru under the sun. We’ve been following the wrong leaders — people who have answers to sell.
But the quest to understand “value of fans” doesn’t help retailers understand how to sell on Facebook. It serves gurus.
Speaking of selfish interests, my forthcoming book features the best retail examples — explaining how to sell with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. And without mentioning Dell or Zappos! But the truth is you don’t need my book to start making sales. To make more sales on Facebook tomorrow, just stop chasing “value of fans” and start asking better questions, today.
Step #2: Ask better questions
Again.. which answer would you rather have as a Web retailer?
“How many people who become fans are existing customers vs. new customers?”
“How do retailers (making sales on Facebook) know which fans to engage with — and how are they conversing in ways that buyers value… that ultimately results in sales?”
The answer seem obvious. There are retailers making sales using Facebook. But they’re making use of Facebook (and all social media) differently. They’re using it to sell — not measure brand funk. And to achieve this they’re asking better questions.
Step #3: Shepherd customers
Retailers I’m interviewing for my book are finding ways to start conversations worth having. And then shepherding customers — helping solve problems in ways that connect with their products. Companies like gardening and small-farm goods retailer, Tractor Supply Company (TSC) are using content marketing and video to drive Web sales. Their Chicken Whisperer partnership is a remarkable example of compelling, useful content mixing with direct response calls-to-action.
Quirky? Yes. But I assure you laughs and novelty are not what’s driving sales. TSC is becoming an indispensable part of its customers lives through content marketing.
Winning retailers like TSC are helping customers guide themselves toward destinations they (customers) have all but chosen –- TSC’s products and services!
Facebook plays a central role in distribution of useful information that’s designed to prompt engagement and ultimately sales.
Conclusion: Facebook is a sales (not discounting) tool
For TSC, Facebook is not about fans. Nor their value. Nor who they are nor the percentage of traffic they send to their ecommerce site. Facebook is a functional tool far beyond broadcasting coupons. It’s useful to customers and TSC.
Yet everywhere I go retailers are asking questions — but those that likely don’t serve their best interests. Rather than seeking out the best way to sell on Facebook they’re focused on the value of fans, for instance.
Action item: Let’s think… more
Retailers seem to be giving up. Shop.org’s Larry Joseloff is reporting the news this way:
“After many years of retailers hearing that Facebook will change how consumers shop, is it really driving direct business and customers for retailers? Are the results measurable or is there a lot of ‘faith’ involved with calculating the retailer value of Facebook?”
I really respect Larry. And his Think Tank is a really, really smart, accomplished group of folks including Kirthi Kalyanam of Santa Clara University; Jeanie Bunker, Alibris; Catherine Davis, The Container Store; Fiona Dias, GSI Commerce; Lauren Freedman, the e-tailing group; Jeremy Liebowitz, Jarden; Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research; retail consultant Jim Okamura, of Okamura Consulting; Elaine Rubin, Digital Prophets Network; Matthew Siegel, Ann Taylor Corporation; Adam Silverman, Musician’s Friend; and Paul Zaengle of Columbia Sportswear. I bow to their collective wisdom.
But I’m asking for a favor in the best interest of all retailers. Let’s consider asking better questions. New questions that lead to more practical answers. Ways that help retailers sell on Facebook. What do you think?