How To Make A Killer Timeline App For Facebook Retail

We asked Wade Gerten, founder and chief executive officer of 8thBridge, what works and what doesn't in social commerce.

Social commerce shouldn’t replicate what already exists in other retail channels, says Wade Gerten, founder and chief executive officer of 8thBridge.

The company has powered some of the earliest successes in Facebook retail, so we asked Gerten to tell us what works and what doesn’t in social commerce.

What do recently shuttered Facebook storefronts — the Gap, Nordstrom’s and Gamestop — have in common? What did they do wrong?

First of all, they should be recognized as smart social commerce innovators.

They each learned far more than they’ll publically share and will be using it to their competitive advantage. If you compete with the Gap and haven’t experimented with social commerce you should be afraid.

The first not-so-obvious commonality is that all three worked with a now-defunct F-commerce company called Adgregate Markets to run their Facebook fan page stores. When that agency shut its doors I’d guess their stores did too.

The most important commonality is that all three simply opened another storefront from which customers could shop. Their key learning, others, and ours, is that checking the portability box alone wasn’t good enough.

More broadly speaking, selling on Facebook fan pages has not worked for four reasons, in order of growing importance:

4. Lack of trust: 82 percent of the 1,000-plusFacebook users we recently polled told us they were not comfortable using their credit card on Facebook. However, we believe this is a distant fourth in the real reasons people aren’t shopping on Facebook. These same results were seen 10 years ago when people were asked about shopping on the web. The trust problem isn’t Facebook, it’s newness.

3. Lack of interest: Most brands don’t want to sell their wares for 50 percent off to their most loyal fans. Without a strong call to action why would you buy something from a store on Facebook?

2. Lack of distribution. This sounds a little crazy given there are almost a billion Facebook users now. However, relatively few of us frequent brand fan pages. We spend most of our time on our Facebook home page checking out what our friends are up to.

Recent reports have also shown Facebook fan page post engagement dropping dramatically over recent months. We have far more friends on Facebook now and they are sharing more and more stuff every month.
Best Buy, I’m sorry I didn’t respond to you when you asked me “which drink do I prefer in the morning, coffee or tea?” I didn’t have time and it’s none of your business unless you want to give me a deal on a coffee machine.

1. People drive social commerce, not brands. Facebook is about identity, self expression, and keeping up with real friends (not brands posing as friends); 90 percent of the Facebook shopping activity across all of our brands is friend to friend. Friends sharing things they care about, things you might like too, or things they’ve bought is where virtually all of the value is in social commerce. It’s all about pull.

Only 10 percent of the shopping activity originates from brands pushing you offers by broadcasting deals to their wall or publishing product catalogs on their Facebook fan pages.

You are far more likely to discover a new product or service from a friend than your are from a brand on (and off) Facebook. Even if you love a particular brand you’d still rather rather listen to your friends any day of the week than respond to a cleverly worded poll post from a social media manager.

How do those strategies differ from what 8thBridge offers?

8thBridge opened the original store on Facebook for 1-800-Flowers in 2009 and quickly learned to focus on the 90 percent… to empower people to share a brand’s products and offers with their friends. We fundamentally understand that people are in the driver’s seat for ecommerce so our software looks for ways to generate more sharing and advocacy.