Facebook’s evolution over the past 10 years has been significant – even in the past year, the platform has experienced some huge changes and retailers have had to change the way they use the network.

For a start, it has become clear that simply reproducing online stores onto a Facebook page is not the way to win customers over. As Facebook’s head of retail and e-commerce Nicholas Franchet tells Retail Week: “People don’t come to Facebook to purchase – they come to check in on their family and friends. The conversation between retailers and consumers on the platform has massively evolved from a year ago.”

Online store replicas often mean a slower route to purchase. Sometimes companies restricted how many goods a customer could buy and customers are wary of using their credit cards over the social network. Franchet also points out that Facebook shops simply “are not as exciting to our users as going to the real thing.”

Facebook interaction

But that doesn’t mean that Facebook is no longer part of the purchasing story. A study by technology consultancy Infosys in January, which interviewed 1,000 consumers in the US, revealed that more consumers interact with a company’s Facebook page than they do than the brand’s own website. More significantly, the study revealed that 89% of consumers that interact with a retailer online through any social media outlet say that the interaction has an impact on their purchase. So how can retailers use Facebook to make the most of these habits?

Many believe that Facebook should be used to create a community rather than push a sale. Darshan Sanghrajka, marketing director, at agency Super Being Labs, says: “Retailers need to understand more about the Facebook users they are communicating with. The amount of data available on the platform makes it easy to know a lot about each person.”

He adds retailers can use this data to work out what customers are looking for. “Give the users value without selling anything to them. For example, if you’re a fashion retailer, then provide interesting and engaging content around fashion - don’t sell them your goods, give them something to consume. Provide advice, videos and fun. Create a community around the needs of your customer. Then every so often, that community will be receptive to offers you show them.”

Tools and engagement

Franchet agrees that subtlety is what’s called for when using Facebook to market products. He says: “We are seeing retailers really embed us in their multichannel strategies. They’re building up their presence on Facebook where a lot of their customers are spending time.”

With this is mind Facebook has created a number of tools that retailers can use on their pages that rival the original Facebook shops model.

Either by working directly with Facebook’s in-house creative team or straight from their own computers, retailers are seeing results using a few tools. The new Call to Action tool allows retailers to add buttons to their page such as ‘shop now’ or ‘learn more.’ Another feature lets companies upload an offer on a barcode, which customers can print and scan at a checkout.

“Retailers now are using 3 to 4 key products that didn’t exist a year ago,” says Franchet. “We want to keep trying things.” As the three retailers below show, clever use of different tools can bring impressive results.

Three retailers using Facebook in new ways


Campaign aim:

Engage customers with the brand and create awareness of its new watch collection.

Action plan:

Use Facebook acquisition Instagram to engage customers using the #CatchTheLight campaign. Use Facebook Page Post ads to create awareness of watch collection and Instagram campaign, targeting women who are fans of luxury brands. Display ads on the mobile News Feed to target customers anytime, anywhere.

Products used:

Instagram, Page publishing (posting regular content), Boosted posts (reaches more people than a usual post).


  • 2.9 times greater engagement with Swarovski’s Facebook page.
  • 21,000 interactions with page posts.
  • 5,000 clicks through to Instagram.
  • 22,500 new Instagram photos tagged #Swarovski
  • 4,400 Instagram photos tagged #CatchTheLight
  • 3,600 new Instagram followers


Campaign aim:

Build awareness and drive in-store sales. Make an emotional connection with the customer by discussing different customer spend scenarios.

Action plan:

Use Facebook page posts to drive interest and engagement with fans. Use Facebook ads to increase the campaign’s reach, and target ads at women. Stagger other media (such as TV advertising) in line with Facebook content.

Products used:

Pages, ads and measurement and insights.


  • Facebook and TV reached 91% of the female target audience
  • Facebook alone reached 43% of the female target audience.
  • 1.5 million women who did not see the campaign on TV saw it on Facebook.

Carphone Warhouse

Campaign aim:

Increase online orders of their Pay Monthly Smart Phone and Pay Monthly Half Price promotions.

Action plan:

Post information about discounted tariffs and handsets to Facebook. Use Facebook Ads to increase audience reach. Use mobile audience targeting to target customers based on their phone usage, for instance “Android users” or “mobile users device 3-plus years old.”

Products used:

Page publishing, mobile placements, newsfeed placements, advanced advertising


  • Facebook contributed to 48% of media-driven sales
  • The retailer achieved its goals with 70% lower cost per acquisition than all other display media.
  • It also saw a 68% increase in online desktop orders from Facebook newsfeed ads.