Retailers on Facebook
By David Dorf on Dec 15, 2008
eMarketer published an interesting chart listing 30 major retailers that maintain a "fan page" on Facebook. My first thought was, why? Basically, Facebook users can sign-up to be a fan of actors/comedians, politicians, bands, movies/TV shows, and now products/businesses. For example, Michael Phelps has 1.7M fans, Homer Simpson has 1.4M fans, Silversun Pickups have 10K fans, and Obama has 3M fans.
Becoming a fan does a few things, most of which are benign. First, it announces to your friends your preferences. A person that's a fan of George Bush, the NRA, and Lynyrd Skynyrd kinda paints a picture. Second, it shows support for up-and-coming artists, politicians, causes, etc. And third, it provides a medium to interact. Its the third area that is of interest for retailers.
I decided to pick four trendy fashion companies and see what they're doing on their Facebook pages. (Incidentally, three of the four use Oracle Retail Point-of-Service!)
Abercrombie & Fitch has a pretty basic page with a few discussions and pictures, but nothing very engaging. The American Eagle Outfitters page looks a little more like an e-commerce site with advertising and discounts. Gap takes it up a notch for their fans by referencing their iPhone application, several videos and polls for voting on fashion trends. They offer a more interesting and engaging page so people are more likely to join discussions or leave a comment. The best of the four was Urban Outfitters (although Gap was really close). Their fans get gift ideas, pictures of new merchandise, a concert video, and occasional fan discount codes. This is, of course, quite subjective and I'll admit I'm probably not in the demographic they are targeting (sadly).
Retailers should be using social sites to enforce branding, solicit customer opinions, and market new products via fan-only discounts. But this takes investment, as content can get stale fast. Pages need to be engaging, leveraging more than what's available on the website. This is, after all, social so conversation needs to be encouraged.