Facebook is adding yet another element to its expanding eCommerce push, this time with the addition of a range of Shops and product discovery options in groups, in order to capitalize on niche targeting and community engagement.
The biggest addition is Shops in Groups, which, as it sounds, adds a dedicated Shop option within your Facebook Group display.
As you can see here, when Shops are available, there’ll be a new ‘Shop’ tab in your group navigation options, while items will also be featured in a separate panel within the group feed. That will provide more ways to highlight specific products of interest to members of specific communities and interests.
And a bonus – each purchase from a group shop can also help to support that community.
“For example, members of OctoNation, an octopus fan group, can now buy stickers, mugs and apparel to show their love of octopuses.”
Facebook hasn’t specified any clear revenue cut or percentage allocation to the group/merchant, as such, so this is more of an option than a defined process. But it’ll enable group admins to allocate funds to related causes if they choose – or they can advertise group branded items, or items related to the group’s interests.
In addition to this, Facebook’s also adding product recommendations in groups, in order to tap into community expertise and help group members find more relevant items.
The process is not hugely different from adding a URL to your usual Facebook comments, but the new format will make it easier to browse the recommendations added in response to such queries, while recommended products will also be displayed in the Shop tab as well.
They’ll also be shown in a new Top Product Mentions alert in main user News Feeds, which will be displayed to people who are members of related groups.
As you can see in these example screens, the listings will not only highlight the most discussed products in groups, but they’ll also include the specific comments made about each, with a link through to the relevant group discussion.
And finally, Facebook’s launching a test of Live Shops creators, which will see popular creators partnering with brands in order to highlight their favorite products.
So it’s basic influencer marketing, but via Facebook Live, which, given the amount of people following the most popular creators on the platform, will no doubt see many brands seeking new partnerships with these influencers as they look to raise awareness of their deals and offers.
Live-stream shopping events have become a key focus for social platforms, with YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Facebook all running various live shopping broadcasts and tests designed to encourage purchase behavior. The immediacy of live video, along with connection to popular influencers and stars, is a strong combination for maximizing engagement, and sales, and with this expansion, Facebook will be looking to further explore its potential on this front, and drive even more action on eCommerce listings.
Live stream shopping has been a big hit in China, where live-commerce is on track to become a $423 billion market by the end of next year. Facebook’s hoping that western consumers will align with the same trend, which could help to give its broader commerce ambitions a significant push.
Amid the pandemic-led surge in online shops, consumer interest in, and openness to eCommerce has seen a significant shift, which has opened up new opportunity for social platforms to capitalize on these behaviors, and boost related in-app activity. Instagram seems the most likely to benefit from the push, given its focus on visual engagement, but YouTube also has ample opportunity to showcase related items, as does TikTok, the rising social app of the moment.
Facebook may not have the same visual focus or trend value, as such. But what it does have is the audience, and with 1.8 billion people engaging in Facebook groups every month, that presents major potential to reach consumers engaging with specific topics, and specific interests, which could be highly valuable to businesses looking to get their products in front of these users.
Though the process is not clearly defined on this front as yet. Can brands partner with group admins to get their products featured? And if they do, is there any system in place to allocate a cut from sales to the group?
There are still a few elements that will need to be ironed out in this respect, but the capacity to showcase product listings within Facebook groups could open up a range of new opportunities.