Social Media’s Growing Influence on ECommerce

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

In conjunction with ROI Research, Performics performed a deep dive on social networks and why/how participants use them as part of their purchasing processes, with a specific emphasis on discovering differences and similarities across product categories. The study was conducted among 3,000 respondents in Q2 of this year.

As brands in a variety of categories head into the critical second half of the year, including back to school shopping, this study shows that social media are heavily used for product and service discovery and decision making. Given that social media use and participation is at critical mass, I believe this trend will only continue and that all brands should understand the role of social for those to whom they try to sell.
It needs to be a critical, funded part of the marketing mix.

Here are highlights from the study in three categories that focus on back to school and the upcoming holiday season.

Education Vertical
• 71% of participants surveyed who purchase educational products discuss them on social network sites
• 29% have made an education institution purchase as a result of seeing content posted on a social network
• Compared to all categories, education ranks first in the percentage of respondents who discuss products on social network sites

Electronics Vertical
• 63% of those who purchase electronic products discuss them on social network sites
• 22% have made an electronics purchase as a result of seeing something posted on a social networking site
• Compared to all categories, electronics ranks first in the percentage of respondents who use social networks to get product advice

Apparel Vertical
• 43% of those who purchase apparel discuss these products on social network sites
• Compared to all categories, apparel ranks in the top four for respondents who follow brands on Facebook and Twitter

These numbers speak for themselves. Social media impacts the way participants buy every single day.

For brands in these categories and many others, Performics recommends four strategies to capitalize on the growing ecommerce influence of social media.

1. Listen: Employ research tools to learn about participant sentiment regarding your brand, category and competitive set, as well as the way folks use social media to influence and direct their purchasing decisions.

2. Strategize: Pin down the strategic direction for your social focus. Is it to promote peer-to-peer conversations? Is it to provide compelling, sharable information? Is it to extend offers to buy now? Is it all of the above? Set a social strategic direction that reflects your brand participants’ purchase dynamics and influences.

3. Activate: With proper internal and partner resources in place, engage your participant audience with the goal to support their buying decisions in the second half of this year.

4. Optimize, Refine and Expand: Closely monitor and measure all activity. Increase your investment in those areas producing the results you seek.

Michael Kahn ( michael.kahn@performics.com ) is senior vice president, client services at Performics and a monthly contributor to Chief Marketer.

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