Retailers will go viral

On: October 15, 2012
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About Daan Smith
I am a general content mangager at the company Round Games based in Amsterdam, with a BA in Media & Culture. At this job I am currently working on different sites/blogs and providing them with (new, fresh) content. Also, I make sure the Social Media that go along with these sites (twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc.) have high levels of conversion. I am following the Master's programme in order to combine my practice skills with (the latest) theories.

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‘Facebook Collections’
With a user base that has crossed the magical border of one billion users; 1 out of 7 people on this planet use Facebook. Liking, sharing, commenting, tagging etc., we are all familiar with these terms or at least we have heard of it. Since Facebook is compatible on your computer, smart phone and/or tabloid and you could see a Facebook widget on almost every website you might think that Facebook’s role in your life is already quite big. But the role of Facebook will inevitably get bigger. The trial of Facebook’s newest feature illustrates this growing involvement very well, the vocabulary of the Facebook community expands with a couple of new words in the upcoming weeks. Forget your daily used ‘like’, check out ‘Collections’! In a couple of weeks we’ll all be familiar with it; we’ll add ‘wanting’ or ‘collecting’ to our Facebook vocabulary.

Features
How come you haven’t heard of it? There are two reasons for this, like said before the Facebook Collections idea is still in a trial. And the other reason, it’s just the way Facebook rolls with these features. Do you remember what was there on Facebook before the ‘timeline’? Why did you switch? You had to switch… Facebook doesn’t promote, show you the possibilities and give you a chance to choose. No, it’s just announcing and it pushes the new features to their audience, whether they want it or not. Whereas a company such as Apple works for months on developing a new service with success – the iPhone5 – or with less success – Apple Maps -, Facebook just adds a new feature. So this ‘Collecting’ is coming and ironically enough whether you like it or not.

Earning money indirectly
According to TechCrunch:

Facebook Collections is a brand new feature that could help retailers score viral click-troughs to their Product pages by making things their fans are interested in more discoverable to friends.

So in this trial version there are now seven retail partners: Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria’s Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics, and Fab.com. Retailers (whether in the trial version or later) won’t be charged on sharing ‘collection’ posts, neither will Facebook earn any commission on potential affiliate links. In conclusion, Facebook doesn’t earn any fees directly on this project called ‘Collections’. So what’s at stake for Facebook? Like said before, ‘collections posts’ only go to a Page’s fans. Like described here:

That means if Pages want more people Collecting, resharing, and clicking through to purchase sites, they’ll need to be building a fan base. Facebook sells ads specifically designed to get brands more Likes for their Pages, and those ads might become a lot more valuable to retailers because of Collections.

Facebook Collections is an investment on the Fan Pages, to make sure big brands will keep using Facebook as a form of promoting. In other words Facebook is trying to hold on to its e-commerce.

The Buttons
So how does ‘Collections’ work? You could like a page like Pottery Barn and go to their fan page. Facebook is testing three types of Collections, each one of them include in another button; ‘Want’, ‘Collect’ and a special ‘Like button. This example describes the ‘want’ button. You can see a new ‘want’ button appearing at the top left corner inside a certain article or photograph of a Fan Page, in this case Pottery Barn. The ‘wanted item’ goes into the ‘wishlist’, a news feed which can be seen by friends and friends of friends. Note that it is still only accessible in the United States. I’ve contacted the help desk of Pottery Barn and they explained to me that the trial version for the 7 retail partners is currently serving only US traffic. The users of Facebook already see the advantages of the new ‘buttons’. In a new episode of the social hour the two reporters are already pointing out that the wishlist and the collected item might be handy for Christmas, check out the first 10 minutes of the show.

Learning from Pinterest
Beside engaging more businesses Facebook Collections is definitely making a move towards Pinterest. Look at the visual resemblances between the two.
This article wrote about the possible challenge ‘Collections’ could be for Pinterest.

If users can Collect and share products on Facebook where they and their friends already spend time, they might have less need to join Pinterest. Collections certainly isn’t robust enough to dissuade hardcore Pinners, but it could evolve to become sufficient for casual curators who don’t want to start a profile on another social network.

One of the things that might be useful for Facebook in general is to collect certain stuff, not only products but also your favorite status, pictures and video’s. If this is going to happen Facebook will be a direct competitor of Pinterest. Another thing that is interesting to mention is that Ebay announces a site redesign. It is also using elements of Pinterest; a Pinterest-like product Feed. Check it out on Ebay. Here is a picture of the product Feed:
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So it seems that Pinterest is in some way an inspiration for sites as Ebay and Facebook. The visual way of presenting stuff, in this case products, makes it easy to collect. The user has a clear overview on what he/she is collecting and it is understandable that Facebook and Ebay took certain elements of the success formula called Pinterest.

This Christmas
Facebook will keep adding new features to expand their e-commerce and to fight potential competition, such as Pinterest. In a few weeks when the trial of ‘Collections’ is over people from all over the world will be ‘wanting’ or ‘collecting’ products. This Christmas will be the Christmas of the retailers that went viral on Facebook by letting their fans collect.

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