Facebook Pages: Fantastic for Word of Mouth Focused Online Retailers

By Michael Fox | 28 Mar 2011

Shoes of Prey Co-Founder, Michael Fox discusses how the company has differentiated and personalised its Facebook page in order to engage fans, further popularise the brand and drive conversion.

Power Retail - Shoes of Prey Facebook

Shoes of Prey Facebook Page

I was delving into our Google Analytics stats today and saw that Facebook accounts for 4% of our traffic and 8% of our sales. What makes that particularly impressive is that 71% of our sales are either direct traffic or Google organic search, so Facebook is by far our biggest referring site.

It’s not possible to tell for certain but we’re confident that most of those sales come from our Facebook page and related interactions. Late last year we discussed how Jodie switched to signing off her Facebook page posts with her name had sparked a lot more interactions on our page.

We’ve since crossed the 21,000 Like mark and our Facebook page is taking on a whole life of it’s own:

Finished Shoe Photos
We semi-professionally photograph every pair of shoes that we make and email the customer a photo of their shoes when they ship. We don’t ask customers to do anything with that photo but unprompted, many of them have taken to posting those photos to our Facebook page. This usually sparks a discussion around the elements in the design.

Product Requests
We’re regularly asked on our Facebook page for new materials or shoe design features. A few months ago a customer asked about glitter material and the reaction from other customers was impressive, clearly they want glitter as an option in our designer! We’ve taken this feedback on board, have sourced some glitter materials and will be adding that to our range soon.

Customer Service Questions
We have some customers who have purchased 10+ pairs of shoes from us and over the last 18 months they’ve developed a knowledge of our product that’s pretty much on par with ours. They’re also as active as we are on our Facebook page and often answer questions from other customers before we do. Not only does this lower our customer service costs but it acts as an excellent endorsement of our brand.

Wedding Photos
This is probably my favourite Facebook post of all, customers posting photos wearing our shoes on their wedding day! Last week we had 3 customers do this. It’s completely unprompted by us, and it seems to be becoming the done thing amongst brides who order their shoes from us. Not only is this a great endorsement of our product but it’s also incredibly satisfying personally to know that we’ve made someone so happy on such an important day in their lives.

How has this happened for us and how can other brands take advantage of Facebook in the same way?

  • Purple Cow your brand. We’ve discussed previously Seth Godin’s Purple Cow concept and how it helped inspire Shoes of Prey. Facebook is really just a word of mouth tool (albeit a brilliant one). If customers don’t want to engage with and talk about your product Facebook is not going to work for you. You need something purple cow-ish to encourage that word of mouth.
  • Develop a personality and consistent brand voice. We stumbled upon this when Jodie started signing off her Facebook posts and comments with her name. Jodie personifies the Shoes of Prey brand, she’s in the videos on our website and appears in all our Shoes of Prey press. Customers enjoy engaging with her. She’s on the page nearly every day and rarely goes more than a couple of days without responding to customers or posting something new. That doesn’t mean this will work the same way for every brand, I’m sure there are many brands successfully using Facebook without a personality behind the posts, however I would suggest that the tone and language used on the Facebook page should be consistent both on the page and with the overall brand image.
  • Spend time on your Facebook page, and stick with it. Our Facebook page has been live for over 18 months and while it’s always worked reasonably well for us, it’s really only been the last four to five months where we’ve started to really see the page gain significant traction. While a Facebook page is free to set up and maintain, it takes a lot of time to manage and run effectively. You need to be on it nearly every day and to stick with it even during quiet patches.

We’ve certainly found that our Facebook page works incredibly well for us as a word of mouth focused online retailer. Which other retailers have you seen use Facebook pages well and what have they done to make that happen?

Michael Fox also has his own blog 22 Michaels, which is a diary of the adventures, successes, failures and everything he has learnt, in the attempt to start his online retail business.


5 thoughts on “Facebook Pages: Fantastic for Word of Mouth Focused Online Retailers”

  1. Steven P says:

    Hi Michael, lots of good thoughts here. We launched http://www.facebook.com/vetshopaustralia a few months ago, and we are also already seeing good feedback and a return on our investment of time and effort.

  2. 4% traffic from Facebook via 75% from Google!? Thank you for information! Now divide by time you spend on Facebook ‘socializing’ via Google optimization. You will see that ‘social’ media is the total waste of time.

  3. Michael Fox says:

    Steven – glad to hear Facebook is working out for vetshopaustralia. You’re getting some fantastic responses to your posts there – pets = a winner for social media and it looks like you’re executing well.

    Dimitri – Google is definitely important for us however the 71% figure I gave is direct and Google traffic with Google being less than half of that. In addition the vast bulk of our Google traffic is people searching on branded terms, eg. ‘Shoes of Prey’ which is equivalent to direct traffic as the person doing the search has already heard about us – often through social media channels! SEO is important but we get more sales from Facebook than non-branded organic search keywords.

  4. Dimitri says:

    Michael. Excuse me for emotions but lets look at numbers. 8% sales via %92 from elsewhere. How much resources you spend on these %8 ads via elsewhere?

  5. Michael Fox says:

    Hi Dimitri, the marketing resources we put into Facebook would be around 8% of our total marketing resources.

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