Facebook has confirmed that it is working with certain retailers to try out a "want" button, which unlike the "like" button would accurately indicate consumer desires. The widget will allow users to flag items they see posted by brands in their News Feeds into "collections" of things they want to buy later. "People will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends. People can click through and buy these items off of Facebook," a spokesperson told Reuters's Alexei Oreskovic. Pottery Barn has already posted a collection, as you can see to the right.
Here's the "want" button in action in the collection:
For now, the final verbiage of our retail desire on the social network seems to be an open question. Facebook has rolled out the collections to all users, but some people will see a "want" button, some will just see a "collect" button and others will see the plain old "like." All three will send items to the new buy-it-later place. We're guessing that whichever verb ends up selling the most stuff will become the standard.
No matter what button we end up with, with the idea, Facebook is attempting to fix its problem with "like," which it thought would act as an accurate metric for consumer desires. As it has learned with Sponsored Stories, however, "like" doesn't always represent an endorsement for a product. Facebook's hoping the new verb will add that crucial dash of consumption that advertisers are craving, as well as a direct measurement for how their social network presence leads to sales.
If this test goes mainstream, Facebook won't directly make money off the "want" button—at least not yet. Brands don't have to pay to post Collections, and the social network doesn't get a cut of the sales, notes TechCrunch's Josh Constine. However, it could lead to peripheral revenue, as companies might pay to get more fans to see its Collections. Facebook offers promoted advertisements, which do just that. Or, the social network could also sell more targeted ads using the "want" data. Instead of just knowing what someone "likes" it can see what they bought.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.