What’s better for a marketer: having someone buy your goods in a vacuum where no one can see them OR buy your goods in front of 100 of their closest friends? Which one is more powerful for driving additional sales through word of mouth? That is exactly the opportunity that faces brands today.
Brands need to start shifting their online content and interactions away from a brand’s .com site and to Facebook apps and Fan Pages to harness this additional traffic. For all of you on Facebook, how many times have you seen News Feed items about your Facebook friends downloading Facebook for Blackberry or iPhone. Plenty. That little message was instrumental in driving thousands of additional downloads without a single ad dollar spent.
Now think about all the online interactions and their corresponding brands that could benefit from a similar move: buying movie tickets, downloading music and videos, buying books, making restaurant reservations, uploading photos to get printed, downloading recipes, and so on. All these interactions can occur or start on Facebook. And when they do your Facebook friends are notified on their News Feed (we can talk about News Feed Optimization another time). That is a form of Word of Mouth marketing and that my friends is some powerful stuff.
Some brands are already taking advantage of this social sharing and are reaping the benefits. To make this happen brands need to integrate Facebook Connect. It is a robust API that has deep integration points for brands. Installation can be simple or complex depending on your level of integration into a brand’s content. Epicurious.com offers up the ability to have all recipes saved by users show up on their Facebook News Feed (permission is asked first). CitySearch has created a very deep and thorough integration of Facebook Connect that promises to bring the two sites together on many different levels of interaction.
Privacy will always be an issue (when has it not in this industry). Brands need to test into these “shared experiences” to gauge acceptance. Not all brands/interactions will be successful but this shift away from “vacuum experiences” and to “shared experiences” will grow in importance as more brands try to harness the traffic driving power of social networks.