For ecommerce sites, “Like” is OK, but “Bought” is much better

First: we wholeheartedly agree with the ideas underlying Facebook’s big announcements today. People want to be able to interact with their friends on sites all across the web, not just within Facebook.  And sites don’t all want to have to become Facebook apps to support this.

TurnTo has been working to enable contextual delivery of social networks on ecommerce sites since our founding in 2007.  And we’ve proved that the benefits for both shoppers and merchants are significant.  So we applaud Facebook, appreciate the validation that their heading in this direction provides, and are already hard at work incorporating their new API.

We also think that to derive maximum advantage from an Onsite Social strategy, ecommerce sites should not rely exclusively on the new Like-based functions that Facebook is providing, but should – more importantly – leverage their purchase transaction data.  Here’s why:

It’s useful for your shoppers to see which of their friends know about your store and the products you sell.  Facebook’s API takes care of the problem of determining who you shoppers’ friends are.  But how do you determine what those friends know about?  Facebook’s new Like button lets shoppers register a connection to items on your store that they, well, like.  But Like does not equal know-about.  And many people who buy from you – and therefore REALLY know about you and your products, will never click Like.  In other words, there will be loads of false positives and false negatives.

If you were a content site, this might be the best you can do.  But as a commerce site, you have a unique asset: the purchase transaction.  You already have a massive set of people who really do know about you and your products, and the list grows every day.  They’re called: customers.

So go ahead and use the new Facebook plugins.  But also, and more importantly, leverage your transactional data to socialize the shopping experience on your site.  That’s where the big opportunity lies.