Fluid, a firm that helps companies with their online retail marketing, has built a product called Fluid Social, which helps shoppers at retail websites view what their Facebook friends have said about certain products. While it remains to be seen whether or not Fluid Social can truly engage (or motivate) customers to participate in discussions by tapping into their Facebook networks, it highlights the potential Facebook Connect offers in making e-commerce websites more social and personalized.
Here’s how Fluid Social works:
1. For the retail sites that implement it, it allows users to comment on specific products, view their Facebook Friends’ comments on those products through Facebook Connect, and learn what their Facebook Friends’ favorite products are on that website. These are broken into aptly named tabs beneath the product (“Share,” “My Friends Say,” and “My Friends Like”).
2. Using Facebook Connect, users authorize the participating retail site to install its custom Facebook application to their Facebook account. In most cases, the app can enable users to update their status messages or publish news about the retailer’s products into their News Feeds.
3. Some of the implementations, such as bag-maker JanSport’s, allows Facebook users who install the customized app to “buy a product” or “invite friends to comment” on the product from Facebook. In other implementations, like Vans shoes, the technology has allowed people to email friends and invite them to chat with you about the product on the retailer’s website.
Fluid Social represents an innovative approach towards improving people’s e-commerce experience by leveraging the personal networks they have built on Facebook.
The main problem of user-generated reviews in the past (like on Amazon or Yelp) has been the impersonal nature of them. When we pick out a pair of jeans at a store, we rarely ask complete strangers for their opinion. We would ask our friends and family. If they aren’t with us, we call them on the phone and try to describe the product as best we can. Fluid Social allows for that personalized shopping experience in real-time, and we’re likely to see more and more integrations like it in the future.