Marketing matters – social commerce

by Laurie Schechter

While the concept of social commerce is not new, 2019 shows a growing opportunity for retailers to maximize this increasingly powerful tool. Here are the stats that prove why it’s more than a passing trend and which platforms provide the most impact.

The way we consume media has undergone a significant evolution. According to a recent report from the UK regulator for the communications services, Ofcom, the U.S. population spends three times as much time mobile browsing as they do on a desktop. The marketing strategy consultancy Kepios’ collected data counted nearly 3.4 billion active users of social media as of October 2018, up by 10% from the year prior. According to data from e-commerce platform Big Commerce, e-commerce is growing 23% year-over-year, the largest category being clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Social media’s effect is potent. Curalate, a platform that merges social and commerce, found in its study of 1,000 U.S. consumers 76% had bought an item they saw in a brand’s social post with those in the youngest segment, 18-24-year-olds, being most receptive to shoppable posts. Nearly 4 out of 10 of these consumers overall, were influenced by user-generated content, inspired to purchase by images of real people who had bought a product. Global Web Index, a technology company that provides audience profiling data, reports 40% of Gen Zers follow brands they admire and 25% of them follow brands they consider buying from. Big Commerce compiled data showed 30% of online shoppers are likely to buy through social media; 23% report social media recommendations and reviews influence their shopping. The numbers increased for the Millennials in this group to 51% likely to buy.

Among men, the numbers were most interesting. BigCommerce reports men spent 28% more than women online in the past year. Men also trend higher than women in their likeliness to purchase on Facebook (23% v 17%,) Instagram (18% v 11%,) Twitter (17% v 7%,) and Snapchat (15% v 6%.) 

It’s clear knowing your customer demographics, offering valuable content brand-created and user-generated, streamlining the shopping experience, building customer relationships, and putting your brand in front of the shopper wherever they are on social, are all imperative. Here are the platforms, the pros, and cons, you should consider:

PLATFORM: Facebook

AMONG TOP INDUSTRIES: Fashion, Retail, Entertainment, Health and Wellness

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 25-55+, 53% female vs 47% male; 25-34 29.7% of all users. 

ACTIVE USERS: 2.27 billion monthly; 1.5 billion daily.

OTHER STATS: On Facebook, 77% of college graduates, 77% of adults making over $75,000, 81% of 18-29-year-olds, 78% of 30-49-year-olds, 65% of 50-64-year-olds, 56% of online seniors 65+.

PROS: There is no bigger platform, you have to be there especially for an older audience.

CONS: Data scandals in the news, fake news have sullied the platform, diminished popularity for the younger audience and organic reach has dropped precipitously.

BEST USE: Use Facebook ads and analytics. Engage, according to one expert 46% of users expect brands to provide customer service on Facebook. With 150 million user count in 2018, Facebook Stories should be utilized and watch for Stories Ads. Video is a must, how-tos, behind-the-scenes and look for Facebook rolling out 5 to 15-second video ads for all users.

PLATFORM: Instagram

AMONG TOP INDUSTRIES: Fashion, Health and Wellness, Beauty, Travel and Hospitality.

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18-35 skews female but that’s changing, especially popular among Millennials.

ACTIVE USERS: 1 billion monthly active users.

OTHER STATS: Use Instagram, 64% of 18-29-year-olds, 33% of 30-49-year-olds, 21% of 50-64-year-olds.

PROS: Highest user engagement among all the major social networks, expanded product tagging and Shopping Channel in the Explore section.

CONS: Visually-driven platform where users expect high-quality visuals so if you’re not able to produce then go elsewhere.

BEST USE: Instagram Stories, product tagged posts and shoppable posts. Watch for monetization options on IGTV to open up.

PLATFORM: Twitter

AMONG TOP INDUSTRIES: Retail, Fashion, Health and Wellness, Travel and Hospitality

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18-29 men and women

ACTIVE USERS: 69 million users in the U.S., 46% of them daily

OTHER STATS: Use Twitter, 24% of American adults, 32% of college graduates, 77% of adults making over $75,000, 40% of 18-29-year-olds, 27% of 30-49-year-olds, 19% of 50-64-year-olds, 8% of those aged 65 and up

PROS: Becoming a discovery hub for consumers, a great place to highlight expertise, products and creativity. A go-to for customer service. 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to. 74% follow small businesses to get product updates.

CONS: 500 million Tweets are sent each day, 6,000 Tweets every second. You could get lost in the shuffle.

BEST USE: Showcase authority, products and innovation and as a customer service tool.

PLATFORM: Pinterest

AMONG TOP INDUSTRIES: Fashion, Health and Wellness, Beauty, Travel and Hospitality.

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18-45, mostly women however, 40% of new sign-ups are men. 1 in 4 American Pinterest users are men.

ACTIVE USERS: 250 million monthly active users.

OTHER STATS: Use Pinterest, 35% of adults making over $75,000, 34% live in the suburbs, 34% of 18-29-year-olds, 34% of 30-49-year-olds, 26% of 50-64-year-olds. 25% of Pinterest users are daily, 31% weekly. 87% of pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.

PROS: A powerful discovery and sales platform because of its unique visual, social and search capabilities with Shop the Look and Pinterest Lens features. 90% use the platform when looking for new ideas, products and inspiration. 48% of Pinterest’s male users choose the platform for search over traditional search engines. 

CONS: Skews female.

BEST USE: Shoppable pins and promoted pins. It’s the number one shopping platform for Millennials, who shop on the site at four times the rate of other digital platforms and 67% of the time when shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Drives referral traffic. Advertising is seamlessly integrated and gets pinners’ attention.