Last week I wrote about the phenomenon known as Pinterest-ification – the idea that websites and social media platforms across the internet are emulating design principles from Pinterest‘s tile-based layout. Well, Facebook has ‘borrowed’ from Pinterest again, this time copying a model Pinterest pioneered.
It allows brands to augment their product-based news feed posts with new buttons called ‘Want’ and ‘Collect’. If a user clicks either of these the product is added to their ‘Wishlist’ and shows up on their Timeline for all their friends to see.
From there, you can click a ‘Buy’ button and be taken directly to the appropriate website to purchase the item. What you end up with is essentially a ‘pinboard’, which collates all the products you need or want in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and accessible to your friends.
So far the trial is open to just seven retailers: Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Limited Brands, Fab.com, Victoria’s Secret, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics and Wayfair. (Source: business2community)
What Facebook is attempting to do with this new commercial functionality is shift users’ consumer and purchasing behaviour. They’re tapping into the habitual power that ‘liking’ posts has over Facebook users and instead nudging users one step closer to actually spending real-world money.
Generally, if we want to purchase something we’ll head to websites like Google, Amazon or our favourite online clothing store. What the ‘Want’ and ‘Collect’ buttons hope to achieve is the cutting out or at least diminishing of our reliance on anything other than Facebook.
Why search through hundreds of results on Google when you can find exactly what you’re looking for on Facebook (while you keep chatting, commenting and updating your status)?
And of course it is another reason for users to never leave Facebook (and for Facebook to generate more and more page impressions and gather more and more user data). Why visit a brand website when you can ‘like’ their page on Facebook and receive news from that brand in your feed? Why have an email address when you can use Facebook messages? Who needs Skype when you can use Video Call?
But here’s the real kicker: not only will Facebook’s new commercial focus help us find what we want, it wants to tell us what we want. We’re naturally social creatures (Facebook is testament to that), so it stands to reason that we’ll be influenced by our friends’ ‘Wishlists’. Now, not only will we have products advertised on retailers’ news feeds, but we’ll also be flooded by updates telling us which new gadget, shirt or lounge our friends desperately want. It’s social shopping, and the ultimate catalogue.
Richard Parker is the head of digital at strategic content agency Edge, where he has experience working with leading brands including Woolworths, St George and Foxtel. He previously spent 12 years in the UK, first at Story Worldwide then as the co-owner and strategic director of marketing agency Better Things.