The recent announcement of Facebook Bluetooth beacons heralds truly fascinating new opportunities for the omnipresent social media platform and, indeed, digital shopper marketing itself.
Proximity-based digital communication is not as new a technology as we may perceive. Access Points (APs) behind guerrilla posters are just one example of how brands and advertisers have experimented with serving unique content to connected consumers over the years.
We can often be guilty of believing that consumers are aware—or even care about—many of the digital trends and insights that we as an industry take as verbatim. Yet Apple’s recent iBeacon platform has undoubtedly helped to raise the profile of this technology amongst a digitally-connected mass consumer audience.
In spite of this growing awareness of—and indeed, desire for—beacon technologies, one of the largest sticking points remains the need for a dedicated app for specific brands and retailers. Today’s digitally connected shoppers move through a fluid and seamless consumer ecosystem—something that the current different range of beacon solutions and apps inherently jar with.
So Facebook’s foray into this space heralds a truly exciting opportunity. Facebook, that small blue icon with the white ‘F,’ is one of the very few omnipresent apps entrenched across the world’s collective device screens. Opening Facebook, using Facebook, is a learned behaviour that forms part of our natural daily digital lives. And it’s this simple behaviour that can overcome a huge barrier for digital shopper marketing.
Make no mistake: digital shopper marketing—indeed, social shopper marketing—remains complex in its simplicity. So many brands and retailers use social channels as an extension of other shopper marketing channels, rather than recognising the unique opportunities offered by behaviours unique to a platform.
There exist a great many examples of content and posts being used to cater for different shopper missions: ‘gift this DVD box set this Father’s Day,’ ‘Pre-order and build your collection,’ ‘Treat the family with a film they will love this weekend.’ But too often, what is missing is the next layer to this: namely, what unique social shopper behaviours are being conducted. Research? Wanting to engage with retail sales professionals? Customer service? Sharing purchases and advocating about the product? Digital (and social) shopper marketing remains a complex discipline to navigate successfully.
Facebook’s Bluetooth beacons are by no means a magic bullet that now bridges the gap between social media and digital shopper marketing. But the use of a platform that is omnipresent in peoples’ everyday lives, coupled with innovative technology that helps to bridge the in-store and online experience, certainly indicates that the digitally-connected shopper ecosystem is becoming more navigable, fuelled by social shopper marketing that is becoming increasingly intelligent.
Callum Saunders is a digital strategist at Momentum Manchester (UK)