Facebook Offers: the first Italian experience of social shopping

The pros and the cons of the brand new Facebook Offers, soon available to all fan pages.

The first thing to do is to explain what Facebook Offers is to the people who don’t know this tool, which has enriched the marketing offers of Zuckeberg’s social network for a about month.

It’s an experimental social shopping service: the company owners of Pages can post special offers and discounts for their fans. This service aim is, on one hand, to improve interaction and fans’ devotion to the fan page and, on the other, to provide new interesting content in order to gain new “likes”.

If handled in the right way, this interesting tool could ensure a high level of engagement and virality, thanks to the word of mouth caused by the special offers. For the moment Facebook says that this tool is available only to a small number of countries and Pages – especially the ones who have invested a lot in Facebook Ads and have a huge number of fans. However, if you go to the help centre and look for Facebook Offers for admins, you can read:

“Offers are available in beta to a limited number of local business Pages. We plan to launch offers more broadly soon.  If you’d like to post offers but your Page doesn’t have the option to, let the Pages team know.”

So we look forward to the availability of this new tool for all the Pages, independently of the country and of the amount of Likes. In the meantime, we’ll show you how it works, through some steps that are going to be very useful the day you’ll decide to use this tool on your Page.

1. Login as admin and click Offer, from the sharing tool at the top of your Page’s timeline, as for any other status update;

2. Type a strong, eye-catching headline for your offer, maximum 90 characters, ex. “Buy one sunscreen and get another one free.”

3. Set an expiration date by clicking the small calendar on the bottom left corner;

4. Upload a 90 x 90 pixel photo that will stand out in a thumbnail, to depict your offer in a clear way;

5. Click next, then add terms and conditions of your offer, using less than 900 characters;

6. Post your offer to your fans. It will be soon possible to run an customized Ad with all the promotion details, to increase the visibility.

Ok, now it’s time to take a look to the first Italian companies using this tool.

#1. Best Western Italy

The first Italian company using Facebook Offer was Best Western.

This well-known hotel chain posted an offer for all its Facebook fans: in the summer, an overnight stay in France for only 69 euros per night. A straight, persuasive headline; a simple image, impossible to misunderstand; simple and brief terms and conditions. When you subscribe to the offer, a message pop up: “We sent you an email. Take it to BW Italy and show it to our staff before 25th March 2012″.

Here are the numbers:

  •  683 subscribed to this offer (receiving the offer by email, the one associated with the Facebook account, and showing it directly to the hotel staff);
  • 106 clicked “Like” on it (Everybody loves special offers!);
  • 92 shared on their walls (the viral effect is sure);

This offer is a huge success, in comparison with the average engagements led by the other post of the Page. Among the 683 subscribed users, more than 400 chose this offer by the first 5 hours. We can say this is the result of an immediate success.

#2. TotalErg

TotalErg launched its Facebook Offer during a couponing campaign advertised on its Page. The first offer posted gave the fans the chance to win double points with the first six refueling paid by the digital card (this card is the foundation of all the advertising campaign the company conveys through Facebook). The image is very simple and evocative (similar to the ones used by the large retailers), the headline is brief but full and, at the end of the description, there is a call-to-action, as in the former company offer.

The numbers suggest that the engagement gained by this new kind of update is stronger than the traditional one.

    •  3.791 people requested the offer by email;
    • 109 people shared it on their walls, increasing its viral power;
    • the post generated 85 comments and 38 Likes in few hours.

#3. Fastweb

The third case history we’re presenting is about Fastweb, and it’s very recent. The company has launched it only few days ago, and it offers 3 months of Mobile Internet, for internet key and tablet, at the special price of 1 euro. Here we find a call-to-action (“Try now!”) in the headline, as for the former ones. However, the image isn’t independent for the text, and you need to read the headline and the terms to understand what it’s like.

This offer got a very high engagement level, in comparison with the average reactions led by the other post of the Page. Almost 3000 people subscribed to the offer and almost 200 people shared it on their walls and many people commented on it (nearly 250 comments and 80 Likes). At last we can say that this experiment of social shopping has brought its fruits.

Benefits and risks

To end this analysis, we have to think about the pros and cons of this activity on the Facebook Pages. Who gains? Facebook, for sure. It will exponentially increase the hits during the log in time for every users, it will broaden the target reached by the Pages and it will became the users’ “shopping partner”, leading them in their online shopping. And last, but not least it will make money from those companies that buy Ads to increase the visibility of their Offer campaign.

We can also say that, in this role play, the Pages are going to earn a lot. According to the success of the Offers we analyzed, we can assume that social shopping is a hot spot: the Pages can use it to improve their engagement level and their posts virality. Moreover, this is a free service: Facebook hasn’t mentioned any costs to use the Offer tool.

At the end of the day, the users gain something, too. With few clicks and small effort, they can join to get a discount or a special offer, giving their “likes” an official and material meaning.

Who risks? First of all, before starting this kind of campaign the companies need to be structured, to take the maximum advantage from it: it’s a delicate field, nothing is worse than improvisation, although motivated by the enthusiasm and the desire of experimenting a new tool.

The shops have to be the linking point between virtual and real, being ready to welcome the offers, because the risk of frustration and lose of interest is very high in the customers who find the special offer hard to get (Groupon/Groupalia know well).

The terms and conditions have to be clear and brief: they have to explain really well where to get the offer, otherwise they can generate many comments with claims for explanation. When a customer holding a coupon from Facebook steps in the shop, he becomes a special customer, an advertising medium, a real influencer: he could glorify or destroy the company.

The Offer tool, as every social one, is very fragile and could be the medium of great success or terrible social-loss. The most important thing to remember is that this tools need to be integrated in the marketing strategy of the company, and the fan pages don’t have to use it driven by the enthusiasm and the desire of experimenting a new tool. So we’re waiting for the next Italian companies using it, before drawing any conclusion about Facebook Offer.