Social Media Buying: Where Are Your Customers?

Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest Drives Sales  [Research]

Social Shopping GirlsThere’s a lot of debate among marketers about whether social media drives sales or not. Since it’s often difficult to track customers’ paths from social media to purchase to advocacy, many marketers attribute social media’s impact to early stage branding.

VisionCritical’s “From Social to Sales” research consisting of 5,657 interviews in the US, Canada and Australia, taken from February 2012 to June 2013, provides insights into social media buying.

To increase your social media marketing effectiveness, here are 6 charts containing social media purchase research. This research data provides a breakout across Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  1. 2 out of 5 social media users purchased an item online or in-store after sharing or favoriting it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Facebook drives the most purchasing with over a third of users making a purchase post sharing. Understand that your analytics may underestimate social media purchasing since it’s most likely unable to track in-store sales that don’t involve a trackable coupon. Actionable Marketing Tip: Start by creating a social media buyer persona to better understand your buyers. Get additional input by having in-store employees ask about social media influences as customers pay.  (BTW— You may want to check out Synpase’s Facebook research that shows that social sharing happens post purchase as a fan.)Vision critical - Social Purchasing By Network
  2. Discount retailers get the lion’s share of social media purchasing. This makes sense since one of the reasons consumers check with social media contacts is for bargains and savings. Facebook drives the most customers to discount retailers, Twitter drives the most customers to department stores and Pinterest drives the most customers to specialty retailers. Actionable Marketing Tip: Use this information to determine what types of promotions and product to place on which platforms. Again, having in-store employees chatting with customers can reveal other social media platforms they use such as Tumblr or Instagram.VisionCritical - Retail type social purchase
  3. Product category is associated with social media platforms. Consumers turn to different venues for different types of information. Technology and clothes stand out on Facebook and Twitter while food and crafts stand out on Pinterest. Actionable Marketing Tip: Understand that while product category influences which platform marketers should use, it’s also important to consider how you’re presenting content. Think eye candy and use alluring images on Pinterest and Facebook.VisionCritical - Major Categories of Social Media Purchases
  4. Purchase intent correlates with social media purchasing. Specifically, over 40% of respondents made a purchase because they happened to see it on social media and almost 90% of respondents made a purchase because they were seeking purchase-related information on social media. Pinterest is the social media network most likely to yield spontaneous purchasing. Twitter and Facebook are more likely to yield social media-related purchases of products they were already researching or considering. Actionable Marketing Tip: Entice potential customers with helpful styling and how-to content. Use the power of images. VisionCritical-Social Media Purchase Intent
  5. 70% of mobile social media shoppers are men. Twitter is most likely to drive mobile purchases and Facebook is least likely to drive mobile purchases. Actionable Marketing Tip: Think purchaser’s context when sharing product on social media platforms in terms of the type of device being used and where the prospective shopper is physically located. VisionCritical - Mobile Social Shopper
  6. 50% of social media related purchasing occurs within one week of social media activity. This means that social media is part of the research and pre-buying process. Actionable Marketing Tip: Include a call-to-action in your social media content to get potential buyers to the next step in the process. Consider options beyond the traditional “Buy NOW!” since you shouldn’t be blatantly promotional on these platforms. VisionCritical-Time Lapse Before Purchase

As the VisionCritical data shows, social media activity drives purchase. The challenge for marketers is to tailor their content marketing and interactions on various platforms to optimize social media purchasing.

What has your experience been leveraging social media platforms to drive sales?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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