2011 in Review: Merchants Get Facebook Savvy

In 2010, merchants used Facebook as a way to flood cyberspace with offers. In 2011, Merchants got savvy with the social network.

The lessons preached in 2010 about using Facebook as a tool to listen and learn about customers came to fruition in 2011. In a way, merchants learned to use social media to bridge the multichannel gap.

That’s not to say the mystery of Facebook was solved: Merchants did pick up some bad habits. Fr example, as Herschell Gordon Lewis pointed out, some cared more about the volume of followers than the quality of the lead. And that led to a lot of “‘Like’ us to enter our contest” type of Facebook campaigns.

But some merchants discovered Facebook was a better customer retention tool than a prospecting tool. Bu including information about their Facebook presence in its email blasts, some merchants were able to maximize their social media engagement.

The “should we or shouldn’t we” debate about Facebook commerce also took off. B-to-C retailers apparel merchants such as Express and Roaman’s started using their Facebook pages as selling channels. Even if consumers didn’t purchase within the confines of Facebook, they used Facebook Connect to share what they wanted with their friends.

Once study even showed that men were more likely to social shop than women.

Though Facebook was king for merchants that sold and shipped physical goods, it wasn’t the only social media used by merchants in 2011.

Location-based marketing took off in 2011. Though Facebook Places morphed into a location-based tracking service, and Twitter still served its purpose, Foursquare made big strides with its in-store marketing campaigns.

Google introduced Google Plus (Google+) and the +1 button in 2011 as well, with hopes it would overtake Facebook as the planet’s most-popular social network. Though it’s been the butt of some late-night jokes for its lack of relevance to date, some marketers believe merchants still need at least a minimal presence in Google+.