Will Facebook ‘Collections’ Successfully Monetize Photo Sharing?

After much anticipation and speculation, Facebook’s ‘Want’ button is finally here. Last week, Facebook announced a partnership with seven retailers to test user-created ‘wishlists’ of featured products as part of its new ‘Collections’ feature. Now users have the ability to ‘Want’, ‘Collect’, or ‘Like’ a product via ‘Collections’ shared from brand pages.  Users can share these ‘wishlists’ with friends, but also click through to buy the product directly from Facebook.

Here’s an example of the new ‘Collections’ feature showcased on the Pottery Barn Facebook Page :



This is how a posted ‘Collection’ appears on the Pottery Barn Timeline.

After clicking on the ‘Collection,’ you’ll notice the ‘Want’ button in the top, left corner. The button prompts you to answer ‘Why do you want this?’ before the product is shared on your timeline.




While Facebook ‘Collections’ isn’t yet available to all users, Facebook announced the feature will be gradually rolled out to all users within the U.S.  It’s also important to note that you may not be able to view all three actions as part of the test. Some users will see the ‘Want’ button while others will only see the option to ‘Collect’ or ‘Like’ a product.

Facebook’s Revenue Push

Right now you’re probably asking yourself: What’s in it for Facebook?

As Business Insider notes, Facebook won’t get a cut from sales, but has hinted at other possibilities for monetization like charging a transaction free for sending fans to e-commerce sites. While Facebook Ads have been the social network’s bread and butter for years, the social giant is getting more aggressive in its attempt to prove value to investors, rolling out Facebook Gifts and Collections within less than a month of each other.

The ‘Collections’ test also seems to point to an increased focus on images, as well. The power of photo sharing has become evident with the explosive popularity of both Instragram and Pinterest. This sentiment has not escaped Facebook either with its release of the graphics-focused Timeline and recent acquisition of Instagram this past April. Facebook ‘Collections’ seems like an obvious step toward monetizing the appeal of social photo-sharing.

In the wake of an overhyped IPO and disappointing stock prices, it’s clear ‘Collections’ is Facebook’s latest attempt to ease rising concerns about plans for long-term monetization, or lack thereof.

Moving from E-Commerce to F-Commerce?

While we know social media is a powerful purchase influencer, past attempts to sell directly on Facebook have been less fruitful than many had anticipated.  As Bloomberg reports, large brands like Gamestop, Gap, Nordstrom, and J.C. Penney opened and quickly closed Facebook storefronts within the year. Yet, interestingly enough, a few success stories with small local business have begun to crop up. In a recent New York Times’ feature, Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru noted that the most successful brands on Facebook “generally have less than $100,000 in revenue and fewer than 10 employees”.

The Bottom Line

Social commerce is still in its infancy, and surprisingly, it looks like Facebook may have beaten Pinterest to the punch. As always, time will tell as Facebook evaluates user response to the new ‘Want’ button. Do you think consumers are ready to shop on Facebook? Let us know in the comments below!