Useful posts about social media branding for b2c brands

Archive for the ‘Social Media Engagement’ Category

Beyond the “Likes” – How Social Utility Drives Social Commerce

I recently found an interesting presentation on this subject which covered how social utility drives our social behaviour and ultimately helps drive sales through platforms like Facebook.

Before anyone reads further, I think it is important to understand what social utility is and how it differs from the networking and commerce aspect of digital.  An earlier interview with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, provides a good definition of what social utility stands for, in Mark’s words:

“I think there’s confusion around what the point of social networks is. A lot of different companies characterized as social networks have different goals — some serve the function of business networking, some are media portals. What we’re trying to do is just make it really efficient for people to communicate, get information and share information. We always try to emphasize the utility component.”

Social utility drives user behaviour and is the catalyst for any successful social commerce platform.   In order for a social commerce platform to work, it needs to solve a social problem AND provide a socially friendly way to communicate and interact with others – for example looking at 8thBridge’s new Graphite platform which gives shoppers more opportunity to express their thoughts on products and makes it easy for them to share that experience with others.

Why Social Utility Works in Social Commerce

The reason why social utility works hand in hand with social commerce is that humans by nature are social creatures, we need to communicate with others and express our opinions.  If a social platform can harmoniously bridge these two components together (shopping and interacting), then you have the basic equation for success.

Digging deeper into social utility you must always keep in mind the factors which drive social utility and look at the psychology of consumer behaviour:

1)   We want to fit in:

By nature humans want to follow the crowd.  It was found in a recent study that 81% of consumers receive advice from friends and family when uncertain about a purchase online through a social network.   By solving this problem and developing an open source network where consumers can share their thoughts and opinions freely, your platform is solving one of the most important aspects to social utility.

2)  We look to thought-leaders for advice

The masses always turn to the top 1% of early adopters for their guiding light on products, travel destinations, fashion items, electronics and so on.  Actually 77% of us use reviews as a qualifying source before making a purchase online. This again is an important factor driving social utility and cannot be ignored, second opinions drive sales and your social commerce platform should factor this into its usability.

3)   We by nature avoid uncertainty

Do you remember sitting in psych class hearing your teacher talk about “Uncertainty Avoidance?” This same rule applies to social commerce and helps drive social utility.  With 62 % of consumers being loyal to their top brands, you want to build a platform that enables the consumer to return to their favourite brands easily and you will help build your consumer loyalty.

4)   We want to have what you can’t get your hands on

We can’t forget the competitiveness of human beings.  The exclusiveness trait might actually one of the most important to driving social utility with 77% of consumers LIKE getting exclusive offers (who wouldn’t?). By offering exclusives available to only your most loyal fans, this will help boost your own sales and also generate buzz amongst your fans; again all points that can’t be ignored in social utility.

In the end, social utility is all about the psychology and behavioural science of how we interact with one another given the social tools that are provided to us as consumers.  The social commerce space is going to be an explosive one in the coming years and is picking up traction quickly across North America and parts of Europe. Don’t get left behind as a brand and always consider the psychology that drives social utility; after all, this is what drives social commerce and revenue generated from social media is always a good thing.

Contact the Author:

Sandy Sykora
Digital Marketing Strategist

Bridging the Gap Between Consumers and Your Brand – The Social Commerce Struggle Part 2

In last week’s post we covered the challenges that brands face in making the transition from Fan to Buyer and how fashion retailers in particular, struggle with these conversions.  Our post finished off with a note on how many of us social media marketers and e-commerce specialists struggle to create/mould the consumer buyer behaviour to shift from using Facebook for not just socializing but also for shopping.

With social commerce expected to reach $30 billion in revenue by 2017, brands need to find innovate ways to create that push from Fan to Consumer.   It is also becoming increasingly hard for brands to ignore that there is also a growing market of Facebook users [approximately 20% from a recent study] who would feel comfortable shopping directly on social media sites, as opposed to the brands’ websites.

So how do some of the biggest brands embrace social commerce today?  The following are some examples of brands doing a successful job in bridging the gap in Facebook Fan engagement and Social Commerce.

Oscar de la Renta

Fashion brand Oscar de la Renta, has done an excellent job of creating incentive for Fans to connect, engage and shop on their Facebook Timeline Page.  The brand offers exclusive “Facebook-Only” products direct from the runway that are available through purchase nowhere else and they are the first fashion brand to successfully create a unique shopping experience that does not leave FacebookWhy this works: Oscar de la Renta is tapping into their top 1% fan base by creating exclusivity through these Facebook-only shopping experiences, which in the end drive sales.


Canadian Tire

 Mass retailer, Canadian Tire, has developed an app on their Timeline Page which enables Fans to get their weekly Canadian Tire flyer and weekly coupons.  What will make this online flyer even more interesting, after hearing Duncan Fulton, CMO of Forzani Group present in January’s Dx3 Conference in Toronto, is that in the app’s second phase, Fans will be able to get custom recommendations based on locality and the current weather, so for example if it’s raining in Vancouver, the Canadian Tire flyer will recommend rain jackets but if it’s sunny in Toronto, my recommendations might be for rollerblades and Spring jackets. Why this works: The flyer provides die-hard Canadian Tire fans (yes they exist), with the opportunity to get deals and then click-through to learn more about the product on the company website.  It enables the consumer to do their research pre-purchase and provides an opportunity for the brand to push the consumer closer to the purchase.

Unilever for its Brands

CPG marketing giant, Unilever, is using Facebook to drive hype and buyer behaviour by gamifying the Facebook experience for some of their brands.  Looking at the Lynx for Her example, Unilever’s team created a countdown by offering special edition cans of their Lynx deodorant spray to the first 100 Fans who purchased the product online.  Why this works:  Creative campaigns in linking engagement and exclusivity, with shopping helps to drive the essential shift that needs to take place for social commerce to work.


Walmartlabs with Shopycat

A Walmartlabs creation, Shopycat uses Facebook data to recommend gifts to consumers on the company’s Facebook page.  This app uses data from Facebook pages to estimate a person’s top 10 friends. It then recommends suitable gifts for those friends, based on their interests pulled from information shared via Facebook.  Consumers also have the ability to search for a topic or theme and Shopycat will show which Facebook friends are interested in those things, along with related gifts.  Why it works:  Shopycat is introducing intelligent social commerce technology and is creating a customized social shopping experience for consumers.  These features are effectively bridging the gap between brand and consumer and helping drive purchases either online or in-store.

Concluding Thoughts

In all examples of brands using social commerce successfully there are three common themes / questions that need to be answered by the marketing team before running a successful F-comm or So-Comm campaign and they are all based on the key fundamental in driving engagement and consumerism “What’s in it for the consumer?”.  Your campaign should consider the following to help drive engagement:

  1. Perceived Social Value- For social commerce, especially in Facebook, the benefit to your Fans’ social status needs to be clear
  2. Exclusivity – Can only a certain number of Fans get the offer
  3. Discounts / Promotion– Is your F-comm initiative offering a discount to your fans for engaging.
  4. Gamification – Will our campaign gamify the social experience and make it fun for Fans to interact with my brand in order to get a special offer

Without at least one of these three key fundamentals, I don’t believe a brand can successfully run a Social-Commerce campaign.  It’s always about the buyer behaviour and most importantly, “what is in it for the consumer”, so the next time your brand is looking to create an engaging social commerce campaign, be sure to consider the three key points.

Do you have experience running a social commerce campaign?  Share your experiences with our team, we’d love to hear about it!

The Latest Top 10 Facebook Page Apps Driving Fan Engagement

There are many apps out there that are available for both consumers and businesses but at times it gets difficult to distinguish between what is effective for me to use as a business and what’s just fun and games.  We decided it would be a great idea to try and cover some apps that brands are currently using which a)increase the consumer’s engagement with the brand and b)help drive virality of campaigns.

This seemingly overnight phenomenon, with over 10.5 million active users, has both consumers and brands addicted to its picture sharing interest board. Brands such as Whole Foods have taken advantage of this app to drive user engagement by pinning relevant content about their quality products, eco-friendly news and recycling tips – all consistent with the Whole Foods philosophy. Not only do they produce content for their pinboards, they are also actively involved in pinning fans’ content as well.  When 1 in 4 consumers buy through Pinterest, it’s no surprise brands are making an effort to get involved in the action.

Bookshaka is an app which enables Facebook Page Managers to view and reward their top most loyal fans.  With Bookshaka, brands are able to motivate user engagement through a rewards system and even take it as far as reward their top fans.  This is a great app to help drive user engagement and build value for the consumer / fan.

Wildfire app has been around for quite some time and is one of the few contest-sharing apps that has made an effort to innovate with the new Facebook Timeline changes.  Wildfire app lets your business create contests, promotions and also create a static-welcome page to help increase “Likes” on your page (something many other contest apps like PinPoint Social have failed to accomplish).

This fashion Facebook app has been on the radar for many retailers for the past year.  With exponential growth and 2011 Black Friday sales reaching $1.1 million, this app enables fans to share their shopping experiences directly on Facebook – something retailers drool over thanks to the added exposure and user engagement with their products….sounds familiar?

Yes, brands can use this music sharing app to their benefit to drive user engagement and have fun with their fans! Although it’s not readily available yet in Canada, a source tells me that they are in the process of extending its availability to Cannuck fans. An interesting use that some retailers are doing is creating their in-store playlists and sharing them with consumers via Spotify (by sharing the link on a receipt or business card).

An app that enables you to share your outfits on Timeline? Sounds good to us! With users like Rachel Zoe sharing their outfits on Pose, how can you go wrong? Pose creates a social experience by enabling fashionistas to tag outfits on multiple categories and by brand, which have retailers jumping in joy for the free user engagement and exposure. Brands are also creating Pose Profiles and sharing outfits from their catalogues with their Facebook Fans; brands like use the app to share new product-launches via untouched candid photos.

Named one of the top 50 F-Comm apps of 2011, is your full-service e-commerce provider.  Not only do they specialize in e-commerce for your website, with their Facebook Connect plugin, brands are able to gain added exposure and analytics from users who use Facebook to access their product stores and shop online.

This app is somewhat similar to the idea of, in that it enables users to share and tag their favourite brands’ products through Facebook Twitter and other social media through incentive-based rewards.  Brands have been using this app for its feature spots to have their products highlighted within the user section of the app – increasing exposure and engagement.  Some interesting statistics from this app show that users are 65% more likely to share an item the love and 5% more likely to share an item they buy, eluding to the importance of brands having to bridge the social and commerce gap.

An online “wish-registry” that enables fans to create wish-lists through Facebook and share these lists with friends in their network. Brands like Bulgari, have created shopping wish-lists for their Fans so that they can shop from the comfort of their own home; they even went so far as saving “wished” items for Fans who intended on purchasing.

This app has been around for quite some time in the world of apps but there’s no question of its benefits for brands to share live video content with their fans.  With Facebook and website integration, this app enables brands to easily (and almost always) seamlessly, share fun or more serious content instantly.

It’s no question that the Timeline implementation has been a major step in the right direction in increasing Fan engagement and interactions with the brands but the next year will really be interesting to see how app developers use Timeline to their advantage to continue creating apps that drive engagement and ultimately convert.

Do you know of any other great apps brands are using?

Bridging the Gap Between Consumers and Your Brand – The Social Commerce Struggle Part 1

Social commerce has now been around for nearly ten years if you are counting Yahoo!’s initial coining of the term back in 2005, with the introduction to the early generation of digital shopping tools such as “Shared Pick Lists”, “User Ratings” and other similar user generated content.

With the introduction of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and the now ever-so-popular “Pictionary-Sharing” platform, Pinterest, companies are no-doubtedly seeing the value to capitalize on such platforms.  The opportunity seems endless for brands (particularly those in fashion) to increase the brand connection with their most valuable consumers…those who are online and who are social.

A recent study from Forrester Research (conducted by Gina Sverdlov) found evidence to support that a brand’s Facebook Fans, are actually their most valuable consumers across all channels.  Particularly the study found that Facebook Fans are more likely than Non-Fans to:

  • Consider Buying
  • Purchase (79% vs. 41%)
  • Recommend (74% vs. 38%)

There is a great article from Social Commerce Today, that goes into its details and I highly recommend reading this but the essence to pull from this post, is that the findings are shouting to a more obvious assumption which many Social Media marketers and E-commerce professionals have been trying to argue all along – that Social Media can drive sales and generate a monetary ROI for your organization!

The Challenge:

There are seemingly endless amounts of tools, apps and platforms that brands can use to help drive engagement but the challenge that remains is how do you connect the dots from Fan to Revenue?  For fashion brands especially, this becomes a hurdle as there aren’t many tools that can drive traffic directly from your Facebook Page to your E-store.

Luckily the new Timeline launch for Facebook Pages have been a huge improvement to help fashion brands drive traffic to their products but the major issue is how do you convert the consumer’s habits from using Facebook for socializing, to using Facebook for shopping? This has been the age-old (and million dollar) question.

A slow shift is occurring though, with companies like Pinterest doing an excellent job of bridging that gap between commerce and Facebook, as well as Facebook’s push towards creating more real estate for app development.  These shifts are luckily providing brands the opportunity to push and promote that connection between consumer and brand but even with these improvements, some major hurdles still remain.

In our next post we will go into some examples of how fashion brands are using social commerce tools to bridge the consumer shopping gap and the trends of where the industry is heading.

FansFave application “Builds the Love” with your Facebook Fans

Our generations are the last generations that will remember what life was like before the internet. When we were growing up, our families made purchasing decisions based on previous knowledge and recommendations from family and friends. Today, society and technology has advanced sufficiently to allow us to connect with friends and family through the use of ‘Social Networks’. Millions of people now discuss products and make recommendations through Facebook every day. From shoes to dresses, cars to books, travel destinations to music, entertainment to cell phones, and a plethora of other products and categories, you only have to login to Facebook and read your news feed to see this behavior in full effect.

It is time for brands to capitalize on this social behavior. Last year was the tipping point for brands and social media. A lot of marketing dollars now funnel to our Facebook Fan Pages. Over the past few years, brands and companies have invested a lot of time and money attempting to build Fan Page numbers, engage fans, and ultimately, drive sales.

Well, we have sure built a lot of fans but if you look closely, on average only about 3% of people are actively engaged.


LG 0.87% “talking about this”

Aldo 2.7% “talking about this”

Gap 6.0% “talking about this”

You get the picture. Although the average Facebook user spends a lot of time on Facebook, if there isn’t enough social content or interesting things to engage with, they’ll just click on something else demanding their attention, off they go deeper down the rabbit hole, your brand a fading memory. The problem is that most social engagement methods are not sustainable. As soon as the brand stops blasting out deals, contests, funny content or news, the engagement plummets. After all, we all use Facebook to socialize with other people, not read about brand and companies, right?

The reality is, brands and companies that sell online are not as effective as they could be when it comes to using their Facebook page. They forget the most important thing after positive brand awareness and engagement: driving sales. Most Fan Pages have limited content with respect to products – and therefore, limited methods for fans to build relationships with other fans and the Brand’s products.

We developed FansFave to help solve this problem.

Current Solutions

Many brands have tried to adopt social eCommerce platforms  in order to sell their products directly on their Facebook pages. However, these technologies require lengthy and painful integration with a brands existing eCommerce platform, or require a separate system altogether. Asking brands and companies to re-add their products to a “Facebook storefront” is a huge pain-in-the-you-know-what, and can be very costly, not only monetarily, but in our most valuable asset: time.

Even after you go through the painstaking process of adding everything manually, what happens when prices change, or you add or drop a product? As of now you have to update your website AND your Facebook Fan Page. If a very limited number of products are sold, you may be able to live with the pain (although why would you want to?), but if you sell tens, hundreds or thousands of products like most online stores do, this can be a stumbling block in continuity and time. For this reason, most brands have not adopted these solutions, and this gap between Facebook and eCommerce still exists.

Our Solution

Over the past 10 months we have analyzed this problem extensively by collaborating with a number of major brands, small and medium businesses, as well as consumers. We have also worked closely with a class of MBA marketing students at a leading Canadian business school, and tested our assumptions against different consumer demographics, with brand/company owners, and social media specialists.

Using our findings,  we have created a technology that will solve this problem. This will change the way brands interact with their fans, while simplifying the online shopping experience by recommending products from their favorite brands and allowing them to learn from other like minded insight.

We would like to introduce FansFave: a new tool for brands and businesses to engage, promote and help sell products, directly inside their Facebook Fan Page, without the costly integration fees and massive time consumption that has always been associated with previous solutions.

FansFave automatically adds products from a brands/companies online store, by using an intelligent web crawler that can identify and parse  product web pages. The result is a beautifully arranged catalogue of products that fans can engage, recommend, and add to their favorites (Fave) right inside of Facebook. Although FansFave does not sell products directly on Facebook, the application focuses on building relationships between products and fans, to generate incremental value for all those valuable marketing dollars.

What’s in it for Consumers

The browsing experience for FansFave is different for everyone. We achieve this by using machine learning, and semantic analytics, but most importantly, it interprets the social presence of the product in relation with the things you and your friends “Fave”. The more a consumer uses FansFave, the better the recommendations become.

For example, if you “liked” Lacoste’s Facebook Fanpage and Lacoste had the FansFave application installed, you would simply check out the Fan Page to look at recommendations, and see what others are saying about Lacoste’s products, without leaving Facebook. If or when you are ready to make the purchase, just click on the photo and “Checkout” using the existing eCommerce platform as per their usual method.

How to get FansFave for a Facebook Page

ecommerce synchronization

Adding FansFave into a Facebook page is simple. Just go to and enter your eCommerce store URL, and press the “Get Started” button. Login to Facebook using your brand/company page, and within minutes, all of your products will be beautifully displayed inside your Facebook page, ready for fans to “Fave”, share, and purchase.

When new products are added to your eCommerce platform or when prices change, FansFave will automatically make those changes in your Facebook page. (example: Juzd Bamboo Designer)

Facebook has done a great job in connecting people with people, and people with brands, it’s our goal to make those connections stronger by connecting people and products, establishing relationships between like-minded consumers and these products, and Building the Love.

We are very excited to offer FansFave for free and we welcome your feedback and thoughts.


Yang, Steve and the Fans Fave Team

More info available, to contact us click here


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