Retailers Need Social Media Strategies to Drive Engagement

A recent marketing study by research firm Vision Critical questions whether companies are using social tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to effectively connect with customers. The study suggests that companies may not be fully utilizing the Big Data available to them. Vision Critical suggests that different social media platforms should be approached in different ways, based on the purchasing behavior of consumers and how social media influences their decisions.

The comprehensive study released by Vancouver-based Vision Critical indicates that social media has a significant impact on consumer purchasing decisions. Vision Critical examined the impact of Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook on consumers in North America and the UK.

The study finds that social media drives in-store and online shopping approximately equally, noting that 38 percent of shoppers who have liked, shared or commented on a product on Facebook have gone on to buy the product, and 43 percent who have favorited or shared a product on any social media platform ultimately purchased it.

Some retail companies view “showrooming” as a threat, fearing that shoppers merely use their stores to browse and handle merchandise in person before making their purchases online. Although 26 percent of the study’s respondents say they do this, 41 percent indicate that they browse online, and buy in store, referred to as “reverse showrooming.”

It is no longer useful to think in terms of demographics. With social media and other data, more specific and detailed descriptions of consumers are available, such as income, where they live in respect to their parents, and how often they use Pinterest on a mobile device.

The study found that female Pinterest users are more likely to make a purchase within 24 hours of seeing a product, while Twitter users are more likely to use Twitter for product research. Retailers can use Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook more effectively if they examine and understand such trends. Social media platforms are best utilized when more fully understanding how they connect to customers.

For more on a success story, read how department store chain Nordstrom is integrating its products posted on Pinterest with the same products at its retail locations. The company currently has 4.5 million followers on the social network.