Exploring Collections: Facebook is testing a big new e-commerce feature for businesses

Posted by Clayton Smith on October 25, 2012

Facebook has built itself a pretty great set of offerings for businesses that want to use the social network to promote their products and services. Companies can have their own Pages, they can generate social shares, they can encourage engagement through liking, commenting, and tagging, they can purchase Facebook ads, and they can pay a few bucks to promote their posts to a wider audience, thus increasing page views, awareness, and, hopefully, overall “likes.”

But for most companies, one piece of the Facebook marketing puzzle has been missing. Driving engagement on the social network is a big step toward increased sales, but all the engagement in the world won’t give your bottom line a boost if your Facebook fans don’t end up buying your product. To date, a handful of companies have been able to sell their products through Facebook with the help of third-party applications and developers, but for those organizations that can’t or won’t shell out the big bucks for a customized merchant app, many of their fans don’t have easy access to the “purchasing” step of the marketing cycle. Facebook just hasn’t offered any features designed to help companies actively sell their products through the Facebook system.

Until now.

Earlier this month, Facebook started testing a new feature called “Collections.” Collections will allow Facebook users to gather their favorite products from businesses they “like” in one “collection,” in a similar style to that of Pinterest. Facebook is currently testing Collections with a handful of business pages (Fab.com, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Pottery Barn, Smith Optics, Victoria’s Secret, and Wayfair), but presumably will open the tool to all businesses once the testing phase is complete.

At this point, the way the Collections feature works is a little convoluted (hence the testing period). Once a company adds a product to its Facebook page, there are three ways users can add that product to their own collections:

  • Want: Clicking “Want” moves the product image to a new “Wishlist” section of Facebook that can be viewed by the user’s friends, as well as friends of friends.
  • Collect: Clicking “Collect” saves the product image to a section called “Products,” which is visible to friends only.
  • Like: Product “likes” are a hybrid between wants and collects; clicking “Like” on the product image will add the image to the user’s “Products” page, but “liked” products will be visible to the user’s friends and the friends of those friends.

Facebook is currently hoping to determine, through testing, which of these three options resonates the most with users. It’s possible the social networking giant may keep all three options, or they may pare the choices down to just one. Either way, Collections is a big step for social commerce.

Clicking on a product image in a Wishlist or on a Products page will take you to the company’s purchasing site, which will make it easier than ever for Facebook users to buy items marketed to them through the social network. Additionally, the Facebook Wishlist allows a user’s social connections to quickly and easily view a virtual catalog of items that they know the user would like to own. This could very well give these products top priority when it comes to purchasing birthday or holiday presents for friends and family.

It appears that the ability to add products to Facebook will be free of charge, at least to begin with. While Facebook may choose to monetize the offering in the future, it seems like Collections will be a great boon to companies trying to figure out more ways to generate concrete social media ROI.

Would you use Facebook Collections to promote your company’s wares? Let us know in the comments below!


Topics: Business, business, campaign, dashboard, education, facebook, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, media, network, pinterest, ROI, social, strategy, tips

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