Watch out, Pinterest. Facebook may be dishing out a little bit of competition. In case you were a little bit off the grid because of the Columbus Day holiday, on Monday the social network began testing a new feature called 'Collections,' which allows marketers to add “Want” or “Collect” buttons to news feed posts about products. According to TechCrunch, these posts save and share products to a “Wishlist” on Facebook users' profiles, and feature a “Buy” button that users can click on to make purchases offsite. Facebook is testing the feature with 7 retail partners -- Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria’s Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics, and Fab.com.
Sounds a little bit like Pinterest, now doesn't it? While Facebook claims the new feature is unrelated to the popular pinning site, we can't help but think that Facebook is trying to nab a piece of the Pinterest pie. In the very least, it's a noteworthy little blow.
How Collections Work
According to Facebook, Collections posts can be discovered in users' news feeds, and "people will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends."
While only the 7 participating retailers can create a Collections post, 100% of Facebook users are able to interact with the posts. But with Facebook testing out different versions of the new feature, users may notice 1 of the 3 following call-to-action copy variations for the button that gets overlaid on the participating retailers' Collections posts, showing each variation to a third of Facebook users to optimize for engagement:
"Want": adds the product to a Timeline section of a user's profile called “Wishlist”
"Collect": adds the item to a Collection called “Products”
"Like": a special version of the standard "Like" button that also adds the item to “Products”
But here's the catch: While Collections are free for business pages to use, they're only visible to the page's fans. In other words, if I visit Pottery Barn's page and I'm not a fan, I won't see any of Pottery Barn's Collections posts. I have to "Like" the page in order to see these types of posts.
I decided to test these out for myself. You'll notice in the examples below, I'm part of the third of Facebook users who is seeing the second copy variation, "Collect."
Here's what happens when, as a fan, I click "Collect" on one of the items in Pottery Barn's collection:
As you can see, I'm prompted to add it to one of my Collections. I can either add it to one of the few that are pre-populated for me, or create a new Collection. When I add my reason for collecting it and click "Save," the item becomes visible on my Facebook Timeline, as you can see below.
I also have the option of changing my preferences for who can see the post. In the image above, it's visible onto to me, but I can change this so that the post is visible to the public, friends, friends of friends, or members of specific people, lists, or networks I belong to. And if a user clicks on the "Antler Outdoor Pillow" link, they're taken to the individual Pottery Barn post with the price, as seen below:
Any additional Facebook features meant to help marketers is obviously a win, and it's easy to see how this one will be beneficial to retail and ecommerce marketers, even more so if Facebook decides to make promotion of Collections posts available in its advertising tool.
That being said, the fact that Collections posts are only visible to Facebook fans also makes it critical for business pages using the feature to build up their fan base in order to get users to collect, share, and click through to their product pages.
As for a possible Pinterest downfall? Who knows. From the marketer's perspective, the new Facebook feature may offer a way to appeal to users who don't have the desire to join a new social network like Pinterest but are still interested in curating their interests on a site they already frequent, like Facebook. Sounds like a marketing win to me!
What do you think of Facebook's new Collections? Will you experiment with it for your business page once Facebook rolls it out to all business pages?