Last week, Facebook announced that it is testing a new buy button feature, enabling businesses to sell products directly on the social network. The button — available on desktop and mobile ads and page posts — is currently limited to a few small and midsized businesses in the U.S.
This is a big, exciting step for Facebook. While it has tested in-platform features that allow users to buy virtual and physical gifts and donate to good causes, this is its first real foray into traditional e-commerce. The social network is strengthening the link between consumer engagement and sales, signaling that social media marketing is growing up fast.
Many digital marketers wonder how this will affect them. Here is how I see this feature being a benefit to them:
- It’s an easy way to convert your audience where they’re spending time: For years, marketers have been eager to tap into Facebook’s massive engaged audience in order to drive more commerce. And as Facebook’s base becomes increasingly mobile, it’s more important than ever to create super-easy conversion paths. The buy button eliminates the need to pull Facebook users away from the site to make transactions, enabling higher conversion rates through frictionless purchases.
- It’s a smart tactic for demonstrating Facebook’s return on investment: The direct impact of Facebook marketing on revenue has always been tough to measure. And while there are many methods for proving social media ROI, measuring direct response is the cleanest. Digital marketers that run click-to-buy ad campaigns on Facebook will have tangible results to bring to their chief marketing officers, resulting in bigger social media budgets.
- Scores of social data = super-targeted ad campaigns: It’s no secret: Facebook stores tons of consumer data. Social data provides up-to-the-minute insights about consumer preferences, demographics, behaviors and relationships. Facebook can leverage this knowledge to enable highly targeted ad campaigns that reach the right consumers at the right time. This could make a substantial impact on conversion rates and revenue.
- Facebook recognizes that shopping has become more social: 92 percent of today’s consumers say they trust word-of-mouth more than advertising. Recognizing this trend, most retailers and brands have invested in marketing tactics that leverage user-generated content like user photos, ratings and reviews. Adding a commerce component to the most social of social networks will make conversations about products and brands feel natural and inevitable. If this feature is rolled out, users should expect to see a lot more rants and raves about purchases in their News Feeds. Ever wished your product could go viral? This might just be your dream come true.
It’s worth noting that the buy button may not be for everyone. Large retailers might be committed to retaining a single system of payment and hesitate to allow transactions to be processed through Facebook. And of course, the buy button is still in beta: Who knows how the feature will evolve? Personally, I’m excited to see how this develops.