Evaluating Facebook as a Sales Channel

Nearly every business has a Facebook page of some kind. So what are the pros and cons of selling via the social media giant?

Evaluating Facebook as a Sales Channel

Facebook is an opportunity to promote products and services to millions of daily users, but is it right for you? We look at some of the pros and cons of selling via this channel.

Before we begin let’s quantify Facebook. Worldwide it has over 901 million monthly active users (March 2012) with approximately 80% of them outside the North America. In 2011 figures showed that globally, Facebook was being used by 1 in 13 people. 48% of 18-34 year olds checked Facebook when they woke up, with 28% doing so before even getting out of bed.

Based on these numbers the opportunity to target this audience is one not to be missed.


Targeted advertising

Facebook knows a lot about its users – their likes/dislikes, what interests them, how they spend their time, so use this to your advantage to get your products or services in front of  the right audience. You can segment who you target by:

  • Location, Language, Education and Work
  • Age, Gender, Birthday, and Relationship Status
  • Likes and interests.

The good news is that typically, advertising on Facebook is less expensive than on Google but the click through rate is considerably less. However for building a brand it should be considered, particularly if the products you sell are viral like books, movies and entertainment.

Setting up shop

The actual process of setting up a shop on Facebook is remarkably straightforward. Many ecommerce solutions offer the ability to create a Facebook store to complement an existing ecommerce site. You need to be able to easily take the contents of your store and sell stock from your Facebook fan page. Actinic Online offers the My Social Store App so you can control orders and stock from one location, which makes managing everything easier. Having a Facebook shop creates a familiar and secure shopping environment which helps to turn shoppers into buyers.

With Facebook’s built-in features that enable social sharing and commenting, shoppers can easily share products they like, driving further traffic to your Facebook store.


Facebook does offer many opportunities to promote product and services to help grow your business. Probably the most important is to use your fan page to maximum affect. Regularly update the page with news and photos; pose questions to keep fans engaged and show you appreciate the fact that they clicked your ’Like’ button. Set time aside to respond to questions and comments and nurture the conversation. It should not just be a place to broadcast dry content, keep it relevant, lighthearted and informative.

Reward your fans with discounts, or if you can, a freebie which offers them some value but does not necessarily cost you anything, for example a white paper, industry knowledge, a free download or entry into a competition.


Who makes the money

The vast majority of the estimated $5 billion per annum consumer spend on Facebook is related to games.

Facebook credits are used for these transactions which are purchased directly from within an app with a credit card, PayPal or mobile phone payment. This virtual currency is used to purchase goods in games or apps where Facebook takes a 30% cut.

With Facebook now listed on the NASDAQ it is going to have to make money fast to justify its high valuation so look out for emerging trends to capitalise on.

Mixing business with pleasure

One of the strongest arguments against fcommerce is the concept of not mixing business with pleasure.

Whilst socialising online with your friends, how receptive do you think people are to businesses selling and promoting their wares in the same space? The answer could be debated at length and people’s perceptions of what is acceptable change over time. Views are also different from one age group to another but it’s important to bear in mind that some may not want to use Facebook as their ‘one stop shop’.


As with most things in life, you only get out what you put in and Facebook is no exception. It requires time to maintain an enticing store page. You need to post engaging comments regularly and fans’ comments might need moderating. Building the initial design of the page also takes time to get it to look just the way you want and there are no guarantees you will reap sufficient reward to compensate for your investment.


The security of your Facebook content is a key consideration. The platform does have many measures in place to protect users, but there are a vast amount of third party apps available. As a retailer make sure you know and trust who you grant access to your Facebook account.

Find out more

Download a free whitepaper, Facebook: The ecommerce opportunity, that looks at the opportunity to promote products and services to the millions of daily Facebook users and recommends how to maximise the potential for ecommerce offered by this platform.

Written by Simon Armstrong, marketing manager for the cloud-based ecommerce platform, Actinic

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