A Social Commerce Role Model

Written by our March guest blogger Chris Richards of Fanpagetoolkit, a Philadelphia-based start-up pioneering a Facebook commerce and marketing platform for businesses, brands, and individuals.

While some groups have been busy preemptively criticizing social commerce and any new ventures into Facebook commerce, others have taken a creative lead and elevated the industry to a new level.

Heinz, we thank you. With the creation of a “pop-up” limited time store on Facebook, you’ve become a prime example for those looking for a role model of successful Facebook commerce.

As a big business, Heinz demonstrated the core principles of successful social commerce by offering a limited time promotion allowing Facebook fans to create and buy customized “Get Well” cans of soup for friends or family. Was the promotion incredibly profitable? No. In fact, that wasn’t the point.

“It wasn’t a revenue-driving activity, but more of a creative campaign to engage with consumers,” explained Nigel Dickie, director of corporate and government affairs for Heinz UK and Ireland.

Was it successful? Yes. Considering Facebook’s inherently social and familial nature, the brand aimed to tap into the more personal side of their customers. This connection would have otherwise been impossible on a traditional brand website, and Facebook’s sharing features ended up elevating the promotion to something remarkable. Generating over 32,000 “likes” and 40,000 interactions with the Facebook shop, eMarketer reports that the campaign was in fact very successful in a truly “social” way.

Looking at the promotion in more detail, what can we learn from Heinz and their “Get Well” soup Facebook store?

1. Creativity is king. Heinz made an attractive looking campaign. Using snappy, pre-like page graphics, and clear calls to action, this promotion left the creativity up to users as they composed their customized soup can messages. In this case, the creative element was also the most “buzz-worthy,” as Heinz allowed fans to share their own customized messages with Facebook friends. The idea, in the first place, was highly creative and demonstrated a higher level of thinking about a rather basic product. By thinking outside of the traditional mindset of “we must sell soup to customers,” Heinz proved that creativity is king in social commerce promotions. Users don’t want the same experience they could get by going to a traditional e-commerce store. They want something unique, creative, and worth mentioning.

2. Money isn’t everything. As mentioned earlier, Heinz should be commended for realizing that not all promotions, or “shops” for that matter, are best measured in terms of sales numbers. In this case, they found that one in eight fans would buy something from the Facebook shop, but how can you put a price on the 32,000+ fans gained during the promotion? The countless shares and word of mouth recognition? All these factors contribute to “brand value,” a metric that leaves profit completely out of the equation. Finally, when the focus goes from money to genuine engagement, people and media take notice.

3. Limited availability drives action. Heinz Soup UK made their store available for a limited time, during the colder winter months, when many fans probably had sick friends and family. Then, only lasting for four weeks, the promotion conveyed a sense of urgency to sign-up and share soup. As opposed to leaving the store open for business constantly, Heinz made the strategic decision to make it a limited-time offering. The result? Increased word of mouth buzz and comments regarding availability. Looking on the Heinz Soup UK Facebook wall today, there are still comments asking for more customized soup! As a result, if and when it comes back online next time, the promotion will be even bigger and more popular, don’t you think?

4. Personal connections drive social commerce. Clearly, the biggest take away from this example is the fact that it highlights just how effective a truly “social” store-front can be. The feeling and phrase “Get well soon” is an age-old part of our society, and a warm bowl of soup is still sometimes seen as the best cold medicine. What Heinz capitalized on with its store was nothing more than human emotion at play. People like to share and make other feel better. In this case, a customized can of Heinz soup from Facebook was just what the doctor ordered.

Again, thank you Heinz for stepping up and reporting F-commerce results. The industry needs more shining examples such as yours. When the tools are readily available, there is no excuse for companies large and small to step up to the precedent set by Heinz, and create memorable, engaging Facebook commerce store fronts. Get creative!

Lastly, many thanks to Dr. Paul Marsden for again providing great food for thought with his article on Social Commerce Today.

For more information I can be reached on Twitter at @seerichards

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One response to “A Social Commerce Role Model

  1. Reblogged this on richards, chris and commented:

    Glad to share this piece with Media Works, Ltd. in Baltimore!

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