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How to start a Facebook store

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There is a new kid on the “marketplace block” and it’s the world’s largest social network, Facebook. Facebook is becoming a real storefront for businesses.

It is seen as so significant that it even has its own name, f-commerce. Though traditionally brands have only been using it for creating fan pages, in the last year, a whole host of retailers have dipped their toes in f-commerce water, from Heinz to Maplin.

Setting up a professional and secure shop in Facebook should be as easy as with other online environments (and certainly easier than it is setting up a traditional bricks and mortar shop.) 

F-commerce is estimated to grow to a $30bn global market by 2015; but it isn’t about the “hard-sell”, it is social selling. 

Five tips for starting your Facebook store

1. Provide a reason to visit you on your Facebook page: engage users creatively (and consistently) with likeable wall posts. Most of the time, it’s a customer’s leisure time so you need to provide a reason for them to visit.

2. Give people a reason to buy on Facebook: have exclusive Facebook promotions, discounts and sales for your Facebook fans.

3. Attract new fans and customers with incentives such as one-time promotion codes, or discounted shipping for those Liking your page for the first time.

4. Make Facebook a PR tool that provides news beyond special offers. Let your customers know something about your company, Facebook is ideally suited for this and it is a great way to add some personality to your brand. Are you involved in Fairtrade or do you support local charities?

5. Incorporate Facebook into your customer service: If someone has a problem, deal with it on Facebook, you don’t want to put new customers off. Similarly, you want to encourage your customers and fans to share their great experiences with your brand.

There is one final point that is worth bearing in mind: if you have another e-commerce marketplace, think about how you can integrate and connect your two shop fronts. 

If they find you on Facebook, let them buy on Facebook. Similarly, if you have a non-Facebook store, let them link through to their Facebook profile. 

Barely a week goes by without some reference in the media about the importance of “online” to the overall health of the UK economy. In 2010, Google estimated that the internet adds some £100bn to UK plc, so it’s safe to assume that the benefits and power of e-commerce are now well understood. This is especially true for retailers.

But more time is spent on Facebook than anywhere else on the web. Don’t drive them away from it.

Sally Tomkotowicz is customer acquisition marketing manager of Names.co.uk.

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