How To Sell Products Via Your Facebook Page

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Now for something brand new that could be very big!

This has barely got started so now is a great time to get in before your competition and while this is a novelty for your fans. It's also a good way to optimize all your social media efforts -- finally you can make money directly from your social media marketing…

What is it?

A new app is now available from Aradium (www.facebook.com/aradium) that allows you to sell directly from your Facebook page – it’s a Facebook store and a fantastic way to engage with your fans and grow your business by driving sales directly from your social media marketing platform.

Your customers can browse, buy and checkout straight from your Facebook page -- it's an amazing way to convert ‘likes’ to ‘buys’. You can also reward your fans with special offers when they ‘like’ you. They can ‘share’ and ‘comment’ on your products as well and it all helps to increase your business profile. You can also create special promotions and competitions to help promote your Facebook store and it easy to post new projects directly onto your timeline, which lets you engage with your fans in real-time.

How does it work?

The application is easy to use and setup using a setup wizard and gives you a very attractive storefront which can accept multiple payment options and multiple postage, handling and shipping options. You can create a store in just a few minutes and as for costs, it can actually work out cheaper than developing and maintaining your own website. There is a free 7 day trial and there are no listing, seller or transaction fees to pay. You just pay a monthly fee of $19.95 if you want to continue to use the service after your trial.

All you need to get going is a Facebook business page, and even if you don't have one you can create one very quickly and easily straight from the application. There is unlimited free online support too, so if you have trouble with something, it's easy to get it sorted out quickly.

The storefront has a great spinning carousel on the front page, which allows you to highlight your featured products and your Facebook photos can be used as product images. They are automatically resized, cropped and scaled to fit. You can create a welcome message to greet your customers and it’s very easy to add categories, items and images by simply pointing and clicking – even technophobes can manage it! You can also add in your product variations such as colour, size and so on and you can display the RRP next to your sale price which is a great way to flag up the value of your products. You have full control over your stock inventory and any out of stock items are displayed as ‘Sold Out’.

The great thing about a Facebook storefront is that it is optimised for Facebook and is an off-the-shelf, easy solution to selling online.

The effectiveness of Facebook

Some people have questioned whether Facebook is effective as a means of marketing and selling products -- it is a social platform after all. However, Facebook has over 845 million users and this is surely an amazing opportunity to grab a share of the market. One small business selling cheese in Melbourne made $50,000 in less than 24 hours through a sale on its Facebook store. It reduced all its products to $29 for a one day ‘Leap Year’ sale. This amazing success was attributed to the fact that people were ordering and sharing it with their friends on Facebook.

Digital marketers, Econsultancy believe that Facebook is alive and well as a commerce platform. They quote one company, Grassroots Festival, that created a Facebook store to sell discounted tickets from their homepage -- their store generated a 4.1% click through rate and resulted in a significant return on investment (ROI) and also cut out the middlemen who were charging commission.

A Facebook store is likely to be an effective way for smaller businesses to offer niche products. It may not appeal to larger online retailers unless there is a specific incentive for their fans to buy through Facebook. Many smaller companies could probably manage without a website of their own and with links to auction sites like eBay there is huge potential to reach a targeted market.

A Facebook store would be a great way to promote things like vouchers, gift cards and loyalty cards as well as competitions and giveaways since these are the types of marketing promotions that work well with social media sites.

Building a fan base

The real key to success with any marketing on social media, including a Facebook store is to develop a community of fans. Engaging with your fan base is vital because with one click of a mouse people can ‘un-like’ you if you are not providing anything for them. It can be very bad news for your business if you're attracting even a modest amount of adverse comments or clicks on the ‘un-like’ button. Once they are there you can’t magic them away either, they stay forever tarnishing your hard-won reputation.

The thing to remember is that you can't just add a store to your Facebook page and sit back and wait for the sales to roll in -- you still have to work at the social media marketing and continue to develop a relationship with your fans and potential customers. Never forget the rules about social media marketing because any business you do on Facebook is very different to the business you might do through your own website or other platform, including a traditional high street business. Your relationship with your Facebook fans is the linchpin of your success.

Exclusivity

One way to get your fans to buy is to offer exclusive deals. Make it a feature of your store that the bargains and special promotions are for your Facebook followers only. Make sure that your offer is not available anywhere else, including your own website. Don't promote your offer through daily deal sites, Amazon, discussion forums or blogs for example -- keep your special price or promotion exclusively for your Facebook fans and you will instantly create goodwill. You can also create additional offers for people who ‘like’ your fan page and this is a really great way to spread the word about your offer.

Most of your Facebook store customers are likely to be people who use Facebook regularly and have been recommended to take a look at your site by their friends and contacts on Facebook. People don't use Facebook for buying, they use it for socialising, and most of the people who look at your site will have had no intention of buying. Their experience of your business page and your Facebook store should fit in seamlessly with their socialising experience and they should feel that your offers are exclusively for them as users of Facebook.

The mistake many businesses make is to use the social media sites as an extension of their general marketing – as just another platform for advertising their products and services. This creates resentment very often and when people only ever hear from you when you have something to sell, they can feel irritated and exploited. Then it becomes all too easy to leave adverse comments or click the’ un-like’ button and that can damage your reputation. It is important to treat social media users differently if you want to make an impression.

Following up

The Holy Grail for any Internet business is to create a list of loyal buyers and subscribers and this is no different when you are selling on Facebook. Once you have attracted a few fans to your page and made some sales through your Facebook store, you have a wonderful opportunity to create an environment where people will buy from you in the future. All you have to do is follow up and stay in touch with your fans by posting regularly on your fan page -- at least once a week would be expected and recommended.

Of course, you know the rules of social media marketing -- you should never be obvious about selling. Social media is about socialising, so you should post lots of information and useful content without trying to sell or pitch anything or you risk annoying your fans. A rule of thumb is that you should post a general messages and information for 80% of the time and anything related to sales for just 20% of the time.

Also try to avoid constantly getting your fans to refer their friends so you can make sales or to share your posts -- if they like what you have to say they will do this anyway and it can be very irritating for your followers if they are being persistently railroaded into promoting offers for you. Less is often much more when it comes to social media marketing.

Better than a newsletter?

It is in fact a lot easier to post a few short comments regularly than it is to create and e-mail a newsletter to your list. You could create a newsletter as well, but if this is not something you intend to do, you can have a similar effect by posting regularly to your Facebook fans. E-mailed newsletters can be quite limiting because people have to actually open your e-mail before they see your message and unless your offer is extraordinarily good they are unlikely to share it. However, with Facebook, your links appear out in the open on your fan’s news stream and it is relatively easy for them to share links and declare whether they like something with just one click. Carefully done, a Facebook page with a store for selling directly off the page can be a very quick and effective way to make sales and get customer recommendations.

Whether you use a newsletter or a Facebook fan page, or both, the important thing is that you are communicating with your customers and followers and developing a relationship of goodwill that can lead to more sales and recommendations in the future. That is the basis of Internet marketing these days.

A Facebook store can be a very effective way to make sales even faster than e-mailing a newsletter or sending out a marketing message. Your fans will be using Facebook regularly anyway for their social activities and it is a great deal easier for them just to click on a link within Facebook or to share and recommend a link with others.

Impulse buys

There appears to be a movement away from email to social media for communication now among friends, partly driven by mobile technology and smartphones. Your Facebook store is a quick and easy way for people to buy something ‘on the go’. The fewer clicks there are to the ‘pay now’ button the better in this fast-paced Internet age and this aspect will be exacerbated with every new generation of Internet users and every technological advance. Urgency can lead to impulse buying and with a store on Facebook you are right there when people are excited and motivated to part with their money.

Social media as a validation tool

The social feedback cycle can work in your favour as a validation tool to help you make sales. A recent consumer research report quoted that ‘No matter what I hear, read or find on TV, radio or in a magazine or newspaper, I can verify it on the Internet.’ In other words, people will search on the Internet to check out what they hear and read about and social media has a big role to play in this cycle. People become aware of something, consider it, check it out, purchase it and pass the awareness on to others with post purchase conversations – thus completing the loop.

This is what drives word-of-mouth evangelism and leads to viral marketing. It is powerful stuff and even more pertinent now as consumers are blocking-out advertising as they suffer advertising and sensory overload. Those seemingly trivial conversations and snippets of information passed around for all to see on social media sites play a vital role in raising consumer awareness and if you join in the game, you too could become an important part of the social feedback cycle with a tangible product or service for sale just when the customer is ready to buy.

Fans that interact with your page on a regular basis have the potential to become great advocates for your business because the more they visit your page, the more your updates will appear in their news streams. This is because of Edge Rank on Facebook and the statistics show that even the most popular business pages are only able to communicate with an estimated 20% of their followers through their wall. This means that followers have to interact with your page on a regular basis for your links to appear on their wall – even more reason to stay in touch with frequent posts.

Facebook stores are still very new and there is no real way to tell whether selling directly on social media like this is going to work. There again, who could have known that Facebook itself would take off in such a big way! Social media is still pretty new and evolving all the time but it doesn't look like it's going to go away any time soon.

Some marketing experts like Econsultancy are absolutely convinced that a Facebook store will become mainstream very quickly. For the low cost and minimal effort it takes to get a Facebook store up and running, it has to be worth a try -- get in there quick before your competitors…

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