Social shopping growth is outpacing general eCommerce growth and growing fast, especially on mobile devices, and “buy buttons” aren’t even out of the testing phase yet for many platforms. In 2014, social shopping revenues topped $3 billion among the 500 largest US retailers, and the number of social media eCommerce referrals tripled from 2014 to 2015. If your business doesn’t already have a plan to integrate shopping tools into your social media accounts, it’s time to develop one based on network demographics and your customer profile.
Use the right networks to reach your audience
Facebook’s user base is vast and varied, giving businesses of many types a way to reach their target market. The majority of US internet users are Facebook users, regardless of gender, ethnicity, education, income, or geographic location. Only among internet users age 65 and up is Facebook use at less than 50%, and then just barely (48%). Right now, Facebook delivers half of all social media traffic and 64% of social referral revenue to mobile eCommerce sites. The overall volume is pretty small—less than 1.5% of all mobile shopping site referrals were generated through Facebook, but that means there’s room for lots of growth.
To support more referrals, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently announced new features that make it easier for consumers to get in touch with businesses and to go directly to their mobile shops from Facebook. Businesses can add a blue “shop now” button at the top of their page and a note telling users how long it typically takes the business to respond to private messages. Facebook is testing buy buttons on selected business’ pages and ads to let users make purchases without leaving Facebook. Other social networks are expanding their own buy button tools as well.
Pinterest is currently a distant second in social shopping referrals but generates 16% of referral-related revenue share. Based on user demographics, Pinterest is an ideal for platform businesses whose audience are those making purchasing decisions about home décor, fashion, fitness gear, and craft goods. Pinterest is expected to more than double its active user base by 2018, going from 151 million active users per month to 329 million—a rate of growth that puts Pinterest ahead of every other social network.
In October, Pinterest announced a major expansion of its buy button program. The first buy buttons within pins debuted on the mobile site in June. Now, with some 60 million buy-buttoned items on the network, Pinterest has partnered with fashion retailer Bloomingdale’s and home goods retailer Wayfair to directly integrate buy button technology into their pins. Along with the new partnerships, Pinterest is making buy buttons available to clients of several major eCommerce platforms.
Twitter, meanwhile, is in the middle of sorting some things out. The company missed its most recent target for user growth and has discounted its ad rates. Twitter recently expanded its buy-button trial, begun last year for some US mobile users, to retailer Best Buy and to clients of selected ecommerce platforms. Retailers who already have a strong and engaged Twitter following are in the best position to leverage the new “buy” option as the program expands. If your business doesn’t already have an established customer base on Twitter, you will probably see results more quickly if you focus on Facebook or Pinterest.
Court social shoppers with convenience, security, engagement
Whichever networks your business uses, it’s important to make the most of your time and presence there by taking advantage of the tools provided by the networks for better customer engagement. For example, Facebook now gives business page managers the option to respond to customer comments via private message, which can make resolving service issues more efficient. On Pinterest, Rich Pins can display real-time dynamic pricing for your products and direct shoppers to your product pages. Analyze your transaction data and your social media following to feature items and offers that will resonate with your audience and fit their typical purchase patterns.
When visitors follow your links from social media, reward them with a streamlined purchase and checkout experience. Give them the best possible security—point-to-point encryption and data tokenization—to reduce their data-security worries, especially when they’re shopping on mobile devices. Shoppers who have a good experience visiting your site from social media are likely to give you repeat business and share your posts to a wider audience.
Photo credit: Wilfred Iven