In this guest post from Grant Crowell of ReelSEO, he previews the future of f-commerce through Facebook credits and what it means for retailers.
Recently Facebook announced that their Facebook Credits virtual currency will be mandatory for buying virtual goods in many games and apps on the Facebook platform. Some marketers are predicting the next major step for Facebook will go beyond simple, social interactions to true social commerce – buying real products and services using Facebook Credits. In this article, we will explore live examples of using Facebook Credits with interactive product video. We will also explore how real Facebook video shopping examples could be further enhanced by having virtual currency available to purchase their own products.
Facebook Credits, Explained (FAQs)
For those of you who have never heard about it or are not entirely familiar with it (don’t worry because a lot of businesses on Facebook still aren’t either), here is an overview:
What are Facebook Credits?
Facebook Credits were introduced in 2010 as a virtual currency you can use to buy virtual goods in many games and apps on the Facebook platform
The main purpose for Facebook was to generate a secondary stream of revenue alongside its ads, and to gather more data on Facebook users, including their browsing and shopping activity. For customers, Facebook Credits has served as a quick and secure way for purchasing virtual goods and credits in over 350 social games on Facebook.
How does Facebook Credits work?
- Facebook redeems credits at the rate of $0.10 per credit.
- You can purchase credits with your credit card, through PayPal, or with a mobile phone number.
- You can purchase Facebook Credits through the Payments tab in your Facebook account settings, or you can buy a gift card at many retail stores like Target, Walmart and Best Buy. You can also purchase credits within many of the games themselves and some of the video apps on Facebook.
- After making an initial payment, you are able buy Facebook credits and get back to your games or other Facebook Credit-related activity very quickly.
- You can also earn credits through special promotions.
Why Retailers Should Care About Facebook Credits
Marketers and online commerce specialists are already well aware of the great business value of the 500 million Facebook users, and have great incentive to tie in product specials into their Facebook Fan pages. The obvious benefit to retailers would be if Facebook Credits started to accept real goods. People could then potentially shop and purchase retail goods directly on Facebook never having to leave the site.
Jay Feitlinger, Founder and Digital Marketing Strategist with StringCan Interactive, says that while Facebook is not yet a direct sales channel, “Facebook credits have the potential to revolutionize the social networking experience, as soon as retailers figure out how to leverage them.”
“Facebook Credits will be the next major step Facebook takes toward unifying the online experience from simple, social interactions to true social commerce (or when tied to Facebook commerce, labeled as F-Commerce),” said Feitlinger in his article on Social Media Examiner’s website.
“It’s clear that people are comfortable with virtual goods, but to take this to the next level, Facebook Credits will need to translate into real-world products or services,” said Feitlinger. “Today you can use Facebook Credits to buy a virtual rack of lamb, and if my prediction comes true, you’ll soon use your Facebook Credits card to purchase a real rack of lamb from your local supermarket. In my opinion Facebook Credits will completely change how we think about generating revenue in the retail world both ON and OFF Facebook.”
Concurring with Feitlinger is Wall Street Journal reporter, Geoffrey Fowler, who said in his own news piece: “[Facebook Credits] is the nuts and bolts of how Facebook is going to be making money moving forward. They have a growing advertising business, and they think they need a secondary revenue stream, which are these credits.”
So it’s understood that Facebook Credits are important for marketers and retailers to follow the progress of. But what’s particular interesting is how video in Facebook has been the first to utilize Facebook Credits as a social commerce strategy, and is going beyond just social games.
Facebook Credits Used For Purchasing Premium Video Content on Facebook Fan Pages
Warner Bros. Entertainment recently became the first Hollywood studio to offer movies directly on Facebook. Warner Bros. Facebook fans can rent movies using Facebook Credits, and stream within the studio’s movie fan pages.
For example, the millions of fans who ‘Liked’ Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster film The Dark Knight can rent the title through its official Facebook Page. Consumers simply click on the ‘rent’ icon to apply their Facebook Credits, and within seconds they will begin enjoying the film. The cost per rental is 30 Facebook Credits or $3. Fans have full control over the film while watching it through their Facebook account for up to 48 hours from purchase. They can choose to watch it in full screen, and have the option to pause the movie, and resume playing it when they log back into Facebook. Consumers will also have full Facebook functionality including the ability to post comments on the movie, interact with friends and update their status.
“Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people,” said Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. “Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world’s largest social network.”
The Next Big Step with Facebook Credits: Social Video Commerce with Real Goods?
If you want an idea of what the future of video commerce with Facebook Credits may be, I recommend checking out the Facebook fan pages of retailers like onlineshoes.com, eBags, Advance Auto Parts, and Vitamin Shoppe. They each are using interactive shopping videos within their Facebook video shopping tabs. The examples below are all using video commerce solutions provider, Liveclicker’s Interactive Video Suite for Facebook.
Facebook interactive video shopping examples include:
- Advance Auto Parts features how-to videos for proper auto care, where clicking on the products featured will take people direct to the company’s own shopping website.
- OnlineShoes.com features product demos of shoes, with a “buy now” button right within the video player. Clicking on the “buy now” button actually opens up their product landing page right within their own Facebook page enabling you to never leave Facebook while purchasing.
- eBags showcases videos of bags, packs, and backpacks. A graphic thumbnail of the product you’re watching in the video appears in the upper left. You are able to click on this product to purchase it right then along with other related products. Clicking on the “buy” button takes you directly to the eBags product landing page, where you actually purchase the product from.
- The Vitamin Shoppe – features a lot of both product videos and videos about product safety information. Their video player also features a “shop” button to peruse a group of items related to whatever product you happen to be watching in the video. You can make your product selection from a bunch, see the price, and click “buy.”
There is an obvious benefit for Facebook, retailers, and users with integrating Facebook Credits as a payment choice for shopping directly on Facebook. You can also see how retailers using video are already in an excellent position to take advantage of this if it should happen.
You have heard other marketers predict that Facebook Credits will be the future of social video commerce. Facebook has already accomplished all of the other commerce combinations: Real currency for real goods, virtual currency for virtual goods, and real currency for virtual goods. When they find the means to allow for retailers and their customers to accomplish the last piece – virtual currency to purchase real goods, it will add to its accomplishments of not only being the world’s largest social network, but the world’s first, true social video commerce network. If it’s only a question now of when, video retailers and their solutions providers seem poised and ready to reap great benefits when that does come about.