December 27, 2012
Marketers including Michael Kors and Nordstrom were invited to test the Facebook Collections interface that lets users interact with products via image tagging.
Users can put an item on their Wishlist, add a product-specific comment and click to purchase an item from the respective retailer through the test functions. Luxury brands and retailers often link to specific items through Facebook images, so marketers will likely jump on the bandwagon should Facebook move forward from the test phase.
“With its next round of Collections functionality, Facebook is delving deeper into defining and carving out user intent and interaction amidst the open social graph,” said Paul Farkas, cofounder/CEO of ULN Ultra Lifestyle Network, New York.“We are seeing a new language being developed for transactive inter-storytelling.
“Facebook is researching user preference for social shopping at a time when native advertising is quickly evolving from the brand side,” he said.
“In-Feed advertising and promotion will be an increasingly important area online and with mobile.”
Mr. Farkas is not affiliated with Facebook or these marketers, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
Facebook could not comment directly on this matter before press deadline.
Testing 1, 2, 3
Facebook began the second phase of its Collections product test for businesses last week, per the social network.
The Collections platform lets companies tag products in uploaded images. To the right of each image is a list of all products tagged.
Users can complete actions such as Want, Save, Add, Collect and Wishlist for each product in the image. The actions offered to each user are dependent on his or her test group at this time.
Each tagged product is also shown with a link to purchase on the respective retailer’s Web site, the ability to add a comment about the product and a tally of how many users have interacted with the product with the new Collections interface.
Users who engage with products through Facebook Collections will also share the items on their News Feed.
If a user adds an item to his or her Wishlist, the social medium creates a story to be shared with that user’s friends and to be placed on his or her personal Timeline so that friends can find it later, per Facebook.
Some Facebook users can currently access the Wishlist action on U.S. brand Michael Kors’ products that are tagged in its images.
Michael Kors image
Products are tagged in an image album from the label called “Celebrate With ...” When users click to enlarge an image, they can also view the “Products in this photo” list in the right-hand column.
The “Add” button below each product name lets users put the item on their Wishlist, view the entire Wishlist, add a comment or remove the item from an existing list.
One holiday campaign image in the album displays the Michael Kors Golden Crystal Ring, Michael by Michael Kors Fulton Quilted Carryall and the Michael by Michael Kors Large Fulton Quilted Leather Satchel in the Collections list.
The ring, for instance, can be added to a user’s Wishlist or purchased for $115 on MichaelKors.com.
Michael Kors image
Nordstrom is also participating in the test run of Facebook Collections.
One of its image albums titled “We love shoes!” contains six images in which products are tagged.
The Collections test will reveal how users are interacting with and sharing items in their News Feed, per Facebook.
Other brands and retailer participating include Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teens, West Elm, Fab.com, Belk, Etsy, Macy's, Old Navy, Mark & Graham and Wayfair.com.
“This Pinterest-meets-Amazon functionality streamlines the desire and opportunity to purchase on one of the most frequented sites,” said Dalia Strum, president of Dalia Inc., New York. “The opportunity to curate interests and products by users has already proven to be in their innate behavior.
“This strategy is not only valuable to users who are active with Collections, but also people in their network if they are looking to purchase gifts for that user or are sourcing inspiration from users with similar style,” she said.
Finding the link
Facebook is not the only social network to enhance its product-pushing functions recently.
Luxury marketers such as Jaeger-LeCoultre and Mercedes-Benz USA are pushing products through the redesign of career-oriented social network LinkedIn.
LinkedIn now features a products section on brand pages where they can showcase products and services. Companies can now add images, videos and overviews about products.
In turn, users can make recommendations and share products and information through posts on their profiles.
The target demographic of many luxury marketers is active on LinkedIn. Thirty-two percent of LinkedIn users have an annual household income of more than $100,000 and 75 percent of users have at least a college degree, according to data from Quantcast (see story).
Facing the facts
Though there is much to gain, there could be a few drawbacks to pushing luxury products and services via mega-popular social networks.
If it seems as if there is over-consumption of a particular item, that item’s value could be diminished, per Ms. Strum.
“A major downfall could be that trendsetters aspire to be the first-and-only owner of a particular item,” Ms. Strum said.
Also, affluent consumers typically strive to be trendsetters rather than trend-followers. Therefore, this strategy may not resonate with them.
“Essentially, this could lead to an increase of competition between social connections as users are aware of purchases before coming face to face with each other, so there can be a virtual upstaging of purchases,” Ms. Strum said.
“When people put thought into purchases, there is nothing more depressing than showing up at someone's house and coming face to face with the same coffee table they just ordered, or arriving at work with a new satchel only to discover another colleague toting the larger, more expensive version,” she said.
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York