Online electrical retailer Appliances Online (now rebranded as AO) has seen impressive growth on its Facebook page, recently hitting the milestone of 1m likes. 

According to AO, it is also making Facebook sell, something not all retailers have managed to do

It has seen a 60% in branded search traffic, which has led to a 58% uplift in sales driven by brand terms. 

To find out the secrets behind this growth, I’ve been asking AO Social Media Manager Yossi Erdman…

What’s the secret of a great Facebook page for an ecommerce site? 

Find the content on your site that people will connect to. Whether (in our case) it’s strange things about what you have in your fridge, the food that you like to cook in your new oven, or anything else related to your area of expertise that you think people will want to engage with.

We are lucky that we sell products that everybody needs (sometimes more than you can imagine). 

The growth in Facebook fans is pretty impressive. What’s the secret? 

A mix of good content with smart advertising. There is no shame in using Facebook advertising and it’s something we are very proud of doing well. But Advertising itself doesn’t work, you need to create really good content.

We chose to have competitions for products we sell (this way we can talk about/advertise our products simultaneously), and created engaging content around them. 

We answer personally to every customer or fan talking to us, and we believe that level of engagement is what makes people come back to us. If you browse our page you will see faces first (it is FACEbook after all!) and then you might see products.

We believe that’s what people want to see, some behind the scenes, some funny things and our social media team embarrassing themselves. 

How have Facebook ads and sponsored stories worked for you? What has / hasn’t worked? 

We invest a lot into Facebook advertising. The most useful method is page post sponsored stories for desktop and mobile. But in order for that to work you have to create very good content on your page posts.

That’s why we have a great graphic designer working on our social content, and we have a video studio that we can use when we want to create pictures with our products. 

How has Facebook boosted brand search traffic? How have you measured this? 

As mentioned on our Facebook case study, we saw 60% uplift on branded searches. We believe Facebook has driven most of this change.

More people are now searching for ‘Appliances Online’ instead of just ‘washing machine’, but it’s not because they are just our Facebook fans (click ‘like’ once and that’s it), but because we focus a lot on our engagement with them and make sure our fans see some quality content from us at least once a week. If we don’t have good content we don’t bother our fans.

You promote Facebook and other social profiles prominently on the site. What was the thinking behind this and how has it performed? 

As we are relatively unknown brand, we thought it could have a really positive effect on potential buyers to see their friend’s faces on our site, if they have recommended us on Facebook. 

We get really good feedback from customers almost on a daily basis, so we decided to show it on our website header as well. Now when a potential customer comes to our website, they can see our latest feedback directly from Facebook and if they’re connected to Facebook at the time they might see some of their friends.

With more than a million fans on Facebook there is a really good chance one of this visitor’s friends already recommended us. We see 10% uplift in conversion when people visit our site when they are connected to Facebook (and can see their friend’s name). 

How many people are in the AO social team? How often are you posting on Facebook? How have you found the best frequency? 

We now have four people on our social team, but we also have a designer who works with us on a daily basis, and all of our customer service queries are handled by our correspondence team which has 10 people.

So lots of people in the business are involved in managing the Facebook page and the social media, but that’s the only way you can respond to every customer personally and make sure people get an answer as fast as possible.

Every week we post things on a different frequency. In general we really don’t like to spam our fans, so we will never post once or twice a day, always less than that.

Many retailers have struggled to make Facebook ‘sell’. What have you done differently, and how do you measure sales/conversions from the site? 

As an online retailer, we decided we have to invest in this platform and make it right, that’s why there are so many people in the business involved in the process of creating content and talking to customers, and that’s why we have decided we need to advertise on Facebook and make it run properly (I know you have already seen at least one sponsored post from us, haven’t you? J) 

We measure direct sales from Facebook, but we mostly focus on branded searches. We don’t believe people see our ad on Facebook and then come and buy a washing machine immediately, as it’s a purchase you need some time to consider.

However, we do see more people search for Appliances Online than ever before and believe Facebook has a lot to do with it. Using Facebook for our brand is definitely the right thing to do.

Measuring by the great feedback we get there from our customers (or customer to be), and the amount of interaction we have, we’re definitely doing the right thing.