7 Best Practices for Facebook Connect on Ecommerce Sites

Last post we looked at the many ways online retailers are plugging into Facebook Connect. Today we’ll look at seven important things to remember when using Facebook Connect on your site.

7 Recommendations for Facebook Connect

1. Location, location, location.

Ask for the connect at the right place and time. Avoid using those pop-up window requests some sites use for customer surveys and email sign ups. It’s not just because users hate pop-up windows more than waiting in line at the passport office. If prompted too early, they may decline the request, then not know how to get it back when they decide they want to connect. (This is not to say pop-ups upon arrival are not effective for customer surveys and email sign ups.)

Instead, use a passive call to action placed where it makes most sense to connect. For example, the product review section, account creation page, community areas/features, or post-purchase.

2. Presentation, presentation, presentation.

Because Facebook Connect is a call to action, it can compete with your default CTAs. You want your Facebook Connect button to get noticed, but not create confusion or dwarf other options.

Widgetbox’s subtle approach presents the Connect button apart from regular sign up. Though it’s not distracting, it may easily be overlooked.

I recommend using the Facebook Connect button, rather than Facebook’s Login button. It’s unclear what the login is for. “If you already have an account” could refer to a Widgetbox account or Facebook, which is a point of confusion.

Another thing to avoid is presenting too much choice. The more options you give a user, the less likely he or she is to take you up on any of them.

In this example, the option to connect with Facebook is presented along with OpenID and “Create new account.”

Visually separating Facebook Connect from the regular Log In and Create Account buttons/links can help.

Consider nixing Open ID and other universal authentication methods to simplify. So far, Facebook Connect is the leader in usage. There’s a good chance your customer has never heard of Open ID.

3. Spell it out.

Make sure you address these FUDs (fears, uncertainties and doubts):

  • What happens when I connect?
  • What data is shared between Facebook and your site?
  • Is it easy to disconnect?
  • What is the benefit of connecting?

As usual, Amazon is a great example.

4. Take only what you need.

The Connect dialog box will disclose exactly what data you will be accessing. Like a web form, ask for only the information you need for the functionality your Connect features will provide. Amazon’s personalization requires access to a whack of data, so requesting permission for it all is necessary.

EyeBuyDirect has a simpler application, thus asks for access to basic information only.

5. Make it easy to unplug.

Amazon provides a clear link to change your Facebook Connect status, and provides the point-of-action assurance that you can reconnect at any time.

6. Respect privacy.

Respect the privacy of the Connected Facebooker’s friends. Teavana uses a zipcode lookup where you can find friends, friends of friends and stranger-neighbours.

Teavana abbreviates surnames to just an initial, while other sites use the full name. It’s a better idea to protect the real names of users when exposing them to strangers.

What about security?

A Get Elastic reader asked a question about PCI-DSS compliance and Facebook Connect. According to my expert source, Gary Palgon of the SIG PCI-DSS Council, Facebook Connect is not PCI-DSS compliant, as it doesn’t require secure protocols to transfer information. Facebook Connect can use SSL which would help make it PCI-DSS compliant, but it’s not a requirement. However, that may change, as Facebook seems to be beefing up its security. If/when secure protocols are required, it will be compliant.

7. Be a star performer.

Performance is important. Scripts that slow down a user’s browser are a sure fire way to get “disconnected.” Your implementation should be smooth and bug-free.

The Levi’s Friends Store interfered with my Facebook inbox. After disconnecting, it worked fine.

Are you connected?

Have you had success with Facebook Connect on your online store or retail blog? Have you had a great experience as a Facebook user Connecting with an online store? Please leave a comment!

Related Articles

6 Responses to “7 Best Practices for Facebook Connect on Ecommerce Sites”

  1. Ben says:

    Thanks for the great article, Linda.

    After reading Amazon’s request for permission list, I’m amazed anyone would allow them to access all that personal data. It must be a very small percentage of people who actually use permit this. For our small company, with 3 million uniques/yr, Do you think it would be worth doing this?

    • I think it could have value so long as it doesn’t depend on a user’s friends to also be Connected. In Amazon’s case, it can pull data from friends to personalize the Connected user’s shopping experience – regardless of which friends are also Connected.

      But for a smaller site, the time invested in building the tool may be better spent elsewhere. It’s a guess you’ll have to make. It’s a good idea to survey customers first to gauge interest.

  2. Ross says:

    nice article – just stumbled upon it about 8months after publish date!
    What are your thoughts on using connect for ecommerce sites with form filling requirements, eg utility companies, car insurance companies. Would people be willing to use their facebook login as a shortcut to getting a quote quicker? interested to know your thoughts on where the balance sits…


    • Hi Ross, I think it’s a great shortcut and could lead to higher conversions, but you may sacrifice customer information that you want – information not included in the profile, included in some profiles (optional Facebook information like education, current location) and sometimes get false information (users with fake names). Personally, I’d only allow it for sign in and not for longer forms.


  3. Amit says:

    Hey Linda,

    thanks for the amazing article. Very informative and helpful.

    Do you think its useful for an e-commerce store to offer fb connect. I am not sure how can I use it on my store besides offering a login option. Besides guests have an option to shop as a guest.

    Any thoughts from you would be highly appreciated.


    • Hi Amit,

      A perfect application for the site you left in your signature would be to use connect to pull birthday reminders from Facebook profile data, similar to Amazon’s gift suggestions mentioned in this article


      Another idea is make it easy to share content such as the interesting “holidays” like Smile Day and Heart to Heart day on users’ Timelines to spread awareness.

      Of course, this requires some developer elbow grease ;) But it adds that social component to your site without building a community for your site.


Leave a Reply

© 2014 Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog. All rights reserved. Site Admin · Entries RSS · Comments RSS