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Retailers Discovering Heavy Traffic From Facebook

Some fashion brands are getting 10 percent or more of their site traffic from Facebook, according to ad agencies and brands.

Facebook quickly has become the top social site for retailers since the company revamped for business two years ago.

This story first appeared in the October 14, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Putting up a brand page that users can “fan” is free, and companies can interact with fans through a variety of means, including news feeds, widgets, targeted ads, giveaways and contests, event RSVPs and comments.

Facebook estimates that, for every 10,000 fans a brand has, it will reach 1.5 million people. That’s because every Facebook user has an average of about 150 friends, and news, comments, games and other Facebook events are automatically distributed across groups of friends.

Last week, Louis Vuitton broadcast its runway show live on the site. By Friday, the video had garnered thousands of “thumbs up” or “like” votes and 249 comments in at least six languages on the brand’s page (called the “Art of Travel by Louis Vuitton”). The vast majority of comments were highly enthusiastic, including “100 0000000000000000000 billlioonnnsss likes!!!!” and “well, my next 6 paychecks are spent already,” although one opined, “It was a total disappointment………sorry Marc!”

The company launched its Facebook page in July, and has more than 734,000 fans.

Some fashion brands are getting 10 percent or more of their site traffic from Facebook, according to ad agencies and brands. Topshop, for example, was getting 20 percent of its traffic from its Facebook widget and an unofficial page before it put up a real one.

Companies are also using the site for targeted campaigns and for customer feedback.

Sephora, for example, ran a campaign on Facebook with ads, a page and a coupon code. More than 10,000 fans joined the page, and Sephora sales doubled during the course of the campaign, according to Facebook ad salesperson Katie Zacarian. Diane von Furstenberg, Tory Burch and H&M are also very active on the site and have thousands of fans.

In July, 1-800-Flowers became the first retailer to use the site for e-commerce. Shoppers can browse and buy in a Facebook app, or widget, on the retailer’s Facebook page.

Facebook has more than 300 million active users worldwide, up from 25 million or so in 2007. About 30 percent of those, or 87 million users, are in the U.S. It is the most popular of the top five social sites among retailers, with 56.8 percent of the Internet Retailer Top 500 e-tailers having a page, according to Internet Retailer. In addition, 41.4 percent have a channel on YouTube, 28.6 percent have a page on MySpace and 20.4 percent have an account on Twitter.