8 Best Practices for Retailers on Facebook Pages

When it comes to retail, brands launching social media campaigns must do so with increasing sensitivity to the privacy of their customers. Shopping, or “retail therapy” as people joke, is no doubt a social activity, but it’s clear that when you begin sharing shopping details at a more granular level (especially purchases), some users begin to balk.

Facebook is now home to over 250 million users who are actively fanning their favorite retail brands on Facebook and showing ongoing participation later. So what are the leading brands doing right?

1. Make shopping more social – but keep privacy in mind.

Check out what Threadless, 1-800-FLOWERS, and Best Buy have done within their Facebook Pages. While Threadless and Best Buy take a more social sharing approach by letting fans share products by posting stories to their Facebook Walls, 1-800-FLOWERS directly sets up shop within Facebook. Fans can browse flower arrangements and purchase and send flowers to their friends without ever leaving Facebook. Choose which style is better suited for your brand, while keeping in mind the constraints of sharing in the retail context.

2. Engage your customers through polls and contests that get them generating the content.

Effectively engage your Page’s fans by offering polls like Starbucks does or holding contests your fans can’t resist like Newegg. Starbucks recently asked its fans, “What’s your usual order?” Newegg is encouraging its fans to follow the company not only on Facebook, but also Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace with a Ninentedo Wii as the reward. Better yet, host contests within your Facebook Page like video or photo competitions that get your fans generating content. You’ll get great feedback on how customers view your products.

3. Enhance your page with applications that drive engagement and virality – like virtual gifts.

Check out aerie by American Eagle‘s virtual gifts app, “aerie kiss & tell,” that lets users to send virtual kisses of all kinds – birthday, flirty, friendly, good luck, etc. – to their Facebook friends. It’s just not enough to build a Facebook Page and expect viral growth. Successful pages are complemented with applications, social ads, etc. that can point fans and their friends (your potential fans) back to your page.

According to a recent report by Razorfish, there is no such thing as a free lunch even in social media marketing – a strategy that is often perceived to be costless. Facebook Pages, though free for all brands to use, are investments in the sense that they need to be coupled with apps and ads in order to reach their full viral potential.

4. Reward your customers with giveaways, sweepstakes, and sale coupons.

We’ve talked about this one before. Give your fans an appropriate incentive to associate their social identity with your brand. For example, Levi’s does a good job of alerting fans about special deals.

5. Partner with causes your customers care about.

Don’t just think about driving traffic to your site or encouraging your fans to come into your stores to redeem their coupons. Instead, take advantage of the culture of cause endorsement that’s well accepted within Facebook and partner with the causes and other public figures your fans also appreciate. Target, Guess, and Gymboree are involved in social causes that they share with their fans. And Kohls, well, they’ve got Britney Spears on their side.

6. Boost SEO by securing a vanity URL for your page.

With the introduction of Facebook vanity URLS, be sure to understand how Facebook can further improve your SEO and grab a username if you haven’t done so already. Last we checked, over 20,000 Facebook Pages have chosen one. With a vanity URL (e.g., www.facebook.com/insidefacebook), you’re given the chance to incorporate important brand generic keywords for SEO purposes. That said, you’re name should authentically represent your business and stay away from being too generic.

7. Bring the conversation offline.

Anthropologie is a good example of how you can use an Events tab to keep your fans in the loop of local events that are coming up. Creating opportunities to meet your fans in person and having flows between your online and offline communications can help put a face to your Facebook marketing efforts.

8. Remember to keep it simple.

Life is good does. With simple status updates (much like the name of the brand itself), Life is good elicits more pondering from its fan community. Their most recent update: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

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