If there was ever any doubt as to the value of social media to e-commerce, the knowledge that 74% of consumers use it to guide their purchases, and social traffic to e-commerce sites increased almost 20% in the first six months of last year, should be enough to dispel it. Sales from Facebook alone grew by 129% in 2013- these are numbers that businesses cannot afford to ignore.
But for maximum ROI, online retailers need to know which platforms they should engage with in order to drive the most traffic towards their sites, and which will best help them convert those visitors. Here we’ll discuss some of the major platforms for e-commerce.
Of the major platforms, those that act best as channels for e-commerce are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, which between them drove 75% of social sales in 2013. Four in ten shoppers bought an item after sharing on one of these best-known networks, and 74% of consumers have been found to rely on social media to some extent to guide their purchases.
Rumours of Facebook’s death have been greatly exaggerated, but it appears that its grip on the social scene is on the wane. Nevertheless, it remains a major player and is going nowhere fast.
Brands should carefully consider which platforms to develop profiles on, bearing in mind that stretching themselves too thin can lead to resource issues. Experimentation before committing is a good principle to keep in mind.
As a general guide - Twitter and Facebook are excellent for responding to customer service queries and promoting discounted offers, competitions or other forms of news. The more visual networks such as Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest and Polyvore are great for putting a face to a brand, sharing multimedia content, and delivering impressively high order values. The big strength of social media is in helping a brand shape and share its story, and effective use of imagery will be can really assist in that area.
Video content is also rapidly becoming a must for many brands. Sites such as YouTube and Vimeo have consistently high conversion rates, second only to Facebook, where many of the videos are shared. This is a superb way to share information with consumers in a different format.
Facebook continues to dominate, especially in certain sectors such as photography and sports & leisure, although it’s widely acknowledged that its grip is loosening. Even those leery of the unpopular changes the network has made in recent years have to agree its reach and influence makes it an integral part of any comprehensive content strategy.
In recent years, the platform has seen a flight of younger users, who have moved on to other networks such as Tumblr. The average age of Facebook users is now 37, so brands targeting an older market are definitely going to want to be here while those after a younger shopper will probably consider Facebook a slightly lower priority.
Second only to Facebook, and followed by Twitter, in the volume of traffic it sends to Shopify, Pinterest is an absolute essential for any brand that has imagery it wants to show off. Visual networks such as Pinterest and its main rival Polyvore have the highest average order values, of which more below and are great for accumulating user-generated content too. Brands today should be incorporating image creation and sharing into their content plans as this is a great technique to build customer engagement.
Pinterest’s average order value is $80, double that of Facebook, and shoppers are around 10x as likely to make a purchase here than they are on other social sites, so most brands NEED to consider developing a presence here. Note that products with prices next to them tend to get far more repins than those without.
Twitter is the loudspeaker of the internet, perfect for companies with a clear message they want to broadcast to as large a number of people as possible. So for announcing sales or competitions it’s ideal. Twitter is also a champion as a method of fan engagement, because it's a lot easier to update this network two or three times a day than it is, say, YouTube.