How Brands Should Rely on Facebook

OscarPRGirl's Picks on Oscar de la Renta

It’s like a negative trickle-down effect –  Facebook’s IPO was ultimately disappointing, and now brands are questioning the social media channel’s value as a sales driver.  But was that ever the point?  To us, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the plethora of other social networks that sprang up around them, were always best used by companies who saw them as an outreach tool. Facebook commerce isn’t the only salient point (thank goodness); creating a dialogue with one’s consumers is.

OscarPRGirl is moving from being merely a Twitter persona extraordinaire to a featured personality on Oscar de la Renta’s site.

And yes, how conversations convert into sales is hard to quantify, but there are plenty of brands who’ve managed to marry a successful, well-integrated social outreach program with some kind of tangible commercial result.  Before everyone throws their hands up in the air about social media’s sales potential, or lack thereof, shouldn’t we take a look at how labels connect with their customers, conversion or no conversion?

  • Burberry is, of course, success story number one, with 13 million “likes” on Facebook and a subsequent high rate (29% in 2011) of its site traffic coming in from the social network.  And getting consumers from Facebook to your site is the point, or at least, one of the most salient ones.
  • A ComScore study, cited by WWD, found that among shoppers at Target, the store’s Facebook fans, compared to non-fans, were 97% more likely to make a purchase.  Of course, this makes sense, given that those shoppers are already self-avowed devotees.  However, a subsequent study found that within the fan group itself, those exposed to some kind of Facebook message from Target were still 19% more likely to buy something at the store than those fans who did not see the communication.  Looks like something’s working…
  • kate spade new york is known for having successfully interwoven standout content across a variety of platforms, but the brand also uses Facebook and Twitter to learn about its fans in order to send relevant emails and capture data to help drive e-commerce.  In other words, the label has created a verifiable dialogue with its audience and used it to help sales.  Isn’t that the ideal outcome?

Tools like Payvment are emerging to help brands better leverage their presences on social media.

  • Oscar de la Renta, meanwhile, is taking its social media and literally marketing it — a new feature called OscarPRGirl’s Picks is predicated on the success of Erika Bearman, the label’s voice behind its massive Twitter presence.  Bearman’s choices are now showcased on the newly revamped de la Renta site.  We bet the partial transition from brand voice to product promoter will be welcomed by Bearman/de la Renta fans.
  • Unrelated to any one brand, start-ups are emerging to expand and facilitate companies’ use of Facebook.  There’s Graphite, which allows retailers to leverage their social media by installing a range of buttons alternate to the “like” option, and there’s Payvment, which makes it possible for entire transactions to take place on Facebook, without fan-consumers needing to leave the site.  As these companies and others gain traction, we expect talk of Facebook’s failings might further subside.

So, what do you think? Is the sky falling when it comes to the utility of social media for brands?  We hardly believe that, but we’re open to hearing out the detractors.

Disclosure: kate spade new york is owned by Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc., the sponsor of this site.

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