With social media now taking a larger bite of the budget cherry than ever before, marketers need to swap focus to continue getting results in an ever-growing and changing marketplace.

Social media is no longer simply a brand awareness platform. It is now a place to sell products and services to customers. The biggest platform being, of course, Facebook.

Just to put it into perspective, Facebook took seven years to reach an audience of 600 million, it took the web 14 years. If that doesn’t help sway your thinking take a moment to digest this: If Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in the world, even bigger than the US.

What the f?
Facebook has so far been used as a marketing tool with which to engage customers but 2011 has welcomed the rise of f-commerce. Major brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, Dove and Lady Gaga have already turned to Facebook to sell products. Lady Gaga has more than 35 million fans that have access to buy all things Gaga from music to merchandise simply through Facebook.

Gaga is cultivating a status as a social media music queen having recently tried, quite successfully, a number of different marketing tools for her new album.

One was a partnership with Zynga, creator of the popular game FarmVille available through Facebook, who created Gagaville allowing fans access to exclusive Gaga songs. It was hugely successful in driving interest for the album Born This Way and the campaign was debated in the media the world over.

Born This Way was the biggest album debut of 2011 at the time of its release.

Easy access
F-commerce is an effective marketing tool because your audience is already laid out in front of you; people who have liked your page have done it for a reason. So it is targeted marketing at its best without wasting precious time and resources on those who are never going to buy your brands product.

The trick is giving customers a reason to like your page in the first place.

While you don’t have to go to the extremes of Lady Gaga, exclusive Facebook deals are an effective method to entice people to like your page. Whether it is a chance at trying a new product before it hits the shelves or a Facebook only opportunity, customers love to feel they are a VIP.

Facebook also allows fans to more easily recommend products to their friends, simply by posting a link. With Australian Facebook users on average boasting more than 120 friends, this is a platform all businesses should invest time and resources into.

The final sell
So how do you create a successful Facebook store?

Find a store front application which suits your business. Make sure it is simple and easy to use.

You must brand your page. If users have to look too hard to find out who you are, they won’t bother.

Once it is set up, market your store, there is no point in having it if no one knows about it. Push it through other social media channels and traditional marketing.

Reward fans with exclusive deals and giveaways to make them feel important and to keep them revisiting the page.

Update regularly but don’t overload your fans.

Make sure to monitor what is happening on your site, the number of fans, comments, posts and what people are purchasing.

So now that you know the basics make sure you have the time and resources to invest before starting a Facebook store. Just like any other form of marketing, it will need consistent monitoring. But with Facebook taking over the internet it is a platform you can’t not afford to be involved with.