How to Convert Facebook Fans Into Customers

A recent survey finds that Facebook merchant pages rank as the top social tool for brands. Retailers recognize the value of grabbing a piece of the Facebook pie, setting up merchant pages on Facebook and aggressively working to collect fans.

And according to a recent poll by search engine marketer Performics, 34% of consumers say they first heard or learned about a product via a social network.

But the ultimate goal for merchants is to tap into Facebook’s 400 million users and see direct results that affect the bottom line and to monetize their social media presence. This has been easier said than done, however.

Facebook is a great place for discovery, branding, promotion and consumer communications, but until now there has been no way to sell directly to Facebook users. The old “walled garden” solution that required Facebook users to leave the network and go to destination Websites simply did not work.

But you can now sell directly from Facebook by turning a fan page into a storefront. Here are five tips on how to do this.

  1. Offer a fan incentive scheme that will grow business by growing the number of consumers who like your page. Nurture those loyal followers into an army of evangelists for brands by offering them discounts.
  2. Use free e-commerce tools available on Facebook to easily adapt a fan page to become a salesroom. Chicago-based beauty company Orglamix doubled its number of Facebook fans immediately after installing an e-commerce app that took minutes to set up. Though Facebook currently does not offer an e-commerce platform, there are several free apps available on its developers tools page.
  3. Ensure that whatever e-commerce system you use enables your company to take advantage of the Facebook network effect. It should have mechanisms that allow people to find items via a brand, storefront and product search and should offer Facebook-wide shopping carts.
  4. Be early to market. Make sure to evaluate what competitors are doing on Facebook and make sure to beat them to market–or at the very least, clearly differentiate the storefront based on promotions, information, community, product assortment, etc.
  5. Avoid automated responses. Take the opportunity to engage with customers and encourage them to spread the word virally about your Facebook storefront. Don’t use your fan page solely as an auto feed of your Website’s content.

A retail Website that lives inside Facebook is more than just a way to increase sales; it’s a way to build loyalty and a large fan base. Facebook is a new world of e-commerce with a captive audience. Inspire and enable your fans to spread your word, and then reap the rewards.

Christian Taylor is founder/CEO of e-commerce systems provider

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