For years, businesses have struggled with how to get the most out of social media. For businesses that sell products online, it's a very interesting time in the space. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all appear to be opening up new opportunities for online businesses to get some conversions.
Are you already having success with any of these platforms? Which one is working best for your business? Let us know in the comments.
Let's start with Facebook, the grandaddy of social networks. This week, the company announced that it's testing a new way for people to discover and buy products in the News Feed and on Pages.
Facebook isn't incredibly high on some businesses' lists thanks to the much publicized hit Pages' organic reach has taken in recent months. Meanwhile, some have reported a decline in paid reach as well. At least referrals, in general, are better doing well.
Facebook has been looking for more ways to help businesses get more out of its products, and giving them the ability to sell things right from the News Feed or Page is something that's frankly a long time coming. Even now, it's just a test, but it's a signifiant enough test that the company actually made an announcement about it - something that doesn't always happen. This is likely to be something that makes the jump from test to feature.
"With this feature, people on desktop or mobile can click the 'Buy' call-to-action button on ads and Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook," the company explained in a blog post.
"We’ve built this feature with privacy in mind, and have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure," the company said. "None of the credit or debit card information people share with Facebook when completing a transaction will be shared with other advertisers, and people can select whether or not they’d like to save payment information for future purchases."
For now, the test is limited to a few small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. Facebook says it will share more info about it as it gathers feedback. We expect it to at least be expanded to more businesses in the foreseeable future, but you never know with Facebook. They like to roll out things incredibly slowly, as we've seen with News Feed redesigns and certainly with new Graph Search features.
As our own Josh Wolford pointed out, it's easy to see why the feature would benefit Facebook itself. It enables the company to gain a lot of payment info, but also makes advertising more attractive to businesses as it may lead to direct sales.
Moving on to Twitter. Earlier this month, people started seeing a "buy now" button on Tweets. This appeared to be something being tested out by Fancy, but Twitter had to enable it to be able to do so.
Furthermore, Twitter has been tip-toeing around ecommerce for years in one way or another. Those things seem to be happening more frequently lately though.
We may very well see a broader "buy now" now feature emerge on Twitter, and Facebook doing its own test could serve to light a fire under Twitter to get it going with more businesses. Amazon is already using Twitter to let people add items to their shopping cart.
This week, Twitter announced that it is acquiring CardSpring, which helps merchants work with publishers to create online-to-offline promotions. It has an API that lets developers link apps to credit or debit cards.
Pinterest has been catering to ecommerce businesses for quite some time, but this week, they took it up a notch courtesy of a new partnership with Shopify. The two companies have teamed up to automatically enable Rich Product Pins for all Shopify merchants.
“Previously, setting up Rich Pins for your site involved adding meta data to your site’s code and validating the Rich Pins on Pinterest,” says Shopify’ social media manager Dayna Winter in a blog post. “We’ve partnered with Pinterest to make the process much easier for our merchants. As of today, any images Pinned from your product pages (by you or anyone else) will be automatically published as Rich Pins.”
“Pinterest is built on “visual bookmarks” – a place to collect beautiful things from around the web. It’s not just a pretty face, however – the social platform continues to prove its mettle as a heavyweight contender in social commerce,” she says. “For Shopify merchants, the platform beat Twitter and Facebook for average order value in 2013, and dominates referral traffic leading to orders in certain industries, like books and antiques.”
According to Shopify, Rich Pins have improved click-through rates for many merchants with Target reporting a whopping 70% increase in Pinterest traffic after enabling them.
Another pretty cool advantage to having Rich Pins enabled for products is that if you reduce the price of your product, people who pinned it will get an email notifying them.
Rich Pins also make images eligible for Pinterest’s own curated categories, such as the Gifts feed, launched earlier this year, which gets products in front of more people.
You don't have to use Shopify to use Pinterest Rich Pins. You can learn more about setting up Product Pins here.
This is only one way Pinterest is helping businesses. You can read more about their search and advertising efforts here. They also just launched Interest following, enabling people to get more Pins about things they're specifically interested in, as well as a new follow button for brands.
Are you seeing Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest users buying stuff from you? Is one more effective than the others? Do you expect any of these new features to have a significant impact on you sales? Share your thoughts in the comments.