The power of pins – and tweets and likes

It’s no secret that social networks are growing. One in four people worldwide used one of them in 2013, and the number of participants will nearly double globally by 2017.

Though brands often view social media through a marketing and PR lens, Twitter, Pinterest and the rest also play a significant role in eCommerce. In the past, marketers believed the consumer’s journey to be a linear, somewhat predictable and controlled process. But now, as we look at purchase behavior as being part of Continuous Commerce™, we can see that social sits at every touchpoint.

Currently, social commerce, the use of social networks in the context of purchases, only accounts for 1 percent of eCommerce spending—but it will triple by 2015, growing to $30 billion in sales. Though it represents just 1.55% of all traffic, and a conversion rate of 0.71 percent, the true value of social commerce is unseen because the site that makes the sale gets the credit.

So where is social media influencing the customer?

According to Gartner, 74 percent of consumers rely on the sites to guide their purchases. In fact, 67 percent spend more money online after gathering these recommendations from friends and connections. But brands can’t just sit back and hope they fall into favor on Facebook; they need to make sure they socialize their eCommerce solution so they have additional ways to reach customers.

In order to surpass competitors, all commerce collateral must be as shareable, findable, and valuable as possible. And businesses must still build their communities in social spaces so their valuable interactions with fans and followers continue to build brand advocacy. The more interactions that take place, the greater the odds a prospective customer will locate the brand.

But it’s not only about being found online. Once a customer is on your site, there are key opportunities to bring social media into the mix. Only 6% of the top 500 North American retailers allow for social logins—despite 87 percent of consumers being familiar with that process, and 40 percent of people preferring it.

By offering the option to like a page, a brand suddenly has access to customer information they wouldn’t have otherwise—age, location, interests, likes and even which other businesses they follow. So instead of basing recommendations on what people are clicking on, you can offer a customer products and services based on what they’re really interested in.

With social sign-ins, you can also collect information such as email addresses, birth dates, size of network, and influence score. This data can also be used to create customer segments for each social referrer, to not only direct consumers into the path where they will be most likely to buy, but also to suggest in-stock alternatives for sold-out products or expired offers.

Even the simple addition of sharing and like buttons on site can lead to tangible results. For example, every Eventbrite link shared on Facebook generates $2.52 in ticket sales, and each Ticketmaster event posted by customers on Facebook results in $5.30 in direct sales.

With a like button, Levi’s increased referral traffic 40 times over, American Eagle saw Facebook shoppers spend 57% more money, and children’s clothing retailer Tea Collection saw a 10-fold increase in daily sales.

The act of sharing brings a brand back to customers still in the consideration phase. So even before someone has made a purchase, other potential customers are seeing the product.

Brands also need to make sure customers have the opportunity to review products. Not only will this create more regular content that will help products rank higher in search engines, but the reviews also increase sales by 18% on average. Fifty-plus reviews on a given product can awesome a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.

Pinterest, which has attracted more than 53 million monthly users around the world, has quickly become a social-commerce behemoth. Seventy percent of people on the platform use it for product discovery, and the site also drives the highest sales totals, with an average order value of $80.54. Consider a brand like Sony, which launched a Pinterest page in 2012. The platform has driven:

  • 800 percent increase in traffic from Pinterest to the Sony store website
  • 2.5 times the traffic driven by Twitter (where it has 80,000 followers) to the website
  • Ten times more clicks of the Pin-it button than the Tweet This version

As Pinterest continues to grow, it also continues to expand its ecommerce offerings and functionality. In the first half of 2013, the platform introduced Rich Pins, allowing retailers to add more information about an item, including purchase instructions and stock availability. Now Pinterest emails people who have pinned or repinned Rich Pin items when they drop in price.

Pinterest has also opened its doors to developers by allowing retailers like Walmart and Zappos to use real-time Pinterest data to generate lists of the most-pinned items in their online stores.

This is no passing trend. The link between social and eCommerce will only continue to spike. As our measurement and analytics capabilities grow, we will be able to capture the full impact social has on sales. With a few simple adaptations, more brands can take advantage of these networks and reach costumers anywhere in the life of the Continuous Commerce cycle.

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