#SocialSkim: Pinterest the Purchasing Powerhouse, Plus 11 More Stories in This Week’s Roundup

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Pinterest is gearing up as a significant e-commerce player; we’ll show you how to take advantage. Also see how Twitter’s making data easier to use in real-time (and how your feed can influence your creativity). And learn how Instagram and Vine are improving their look and feel to stay sticky.

Skim to start your summer social!

Impulse pinning, impulse buying. Pinterest announced the coming arrival of pins with a “Buy It” button, and just in time: People like using Pins to plan purchases, whether for weddings (see No. 1, below), vacations, or DIY projects. Intent is there, and it’s strong.

The big blue button lets people purchase within the app. A price filter will help make cost comparisons by pin, and an “options” feature lets users swipe through pins to choose between product variations. Payment can be made via Apple Pay or credit card—info that’s stored so customers never have to enter it again.

To activate Buyable Pins, businesses using Shopify can simply log in, add the Pinterest channel, and enable Buyable Pins. Demandware customers will get Buyable Pins in the coming weeks. Say hello to the Pin-based impulse buy.

1. Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna be pinning

Summer is wedding season. To prepare yourself for Buyable Pins, stretch your board-building muscles by helping hopeful wedding planners out on Pinterest.

Jared Del Prete of EGC Group has tips for ensuring your matrimonial pinnables don’t go unnoticed: Make images pinnable, use the correct size ratios to ensure image quality (between 2:3 to 1:3.5 with a minimum width of 600 pixels), and boost your work with some handy-dandy self-service advertising.

2. Instagram: Opening to all advertisers!

Instagram’s also testing ads that let people click to buy a product or install an app. It also plans to open to all advertisers this year, letting them target its 300 million users based on interest, age, gender, and other factors.

Experts say if Instagram’s audience filtering features are as granular as parent company Facebook’s, it’s just a question of time before the social photo-sharing site becomes a thriving e-commerce hive.

Some aren’t convinced Insta will be the retail haven that Pinterest will be. Its users “are generally in a place of inspiration and discovery,” said DigitasLBi’s Jill Sherman. “Purchase behavior will likely be impulsive, so scarcity—like limited time and quantity—will be necessary to capitalize on this audience at first.”

RBC Capital Markets thinks the buy ads could generate $ 1.3-$ 2.1 billion in Facebook revenue this year.

To prep, learn to up your Instagram game (complete with totally theft-worthy ideas!)—just in time for Instagram’s flatter and less-cluttered redesign (meaning your pictures will pop in ways they never have before).

3. Say goodbye to a classic villain

Sir Christopher Lee passed on at age 93. You may remember his terrifying turn as Count Dracula (though younger readers will better recognize him as Saruman from Lord of the Rings). Social users are bereft.

Our advice for whenever a major passing occurs: Employees can mourn openly on personal accounts; the brand can pay respects if the gesture feels authentic. But please don’t attach a logo, tagline, or a product/service tie-in or mention to the act.

4. Facebook Place Tips open to SMBs!

The best time to connect with a customer is often while they’re in the store. Facebook’s Place Tips, launched in test mode early this year, helps people learn more about the places and businesses they’re visiting on their phones (for example, a restaurant can share its signature dishes or cocktails). Local businesses that tried it saw an uptick in Page traffic from in-store users.

As of this week, Facebook’s opening Place Tips to everyone. To activate yours, request a Facebook Bluetooth Beacon.

Pro-tip: Make your Place Tip more memorable by adding a welcome note with a promotion!

In somewhat related news, Tealium data reveals that brands increasingly see Facebook as an advertising partner… and it’s moving in on Google territory.

5. Introducing Heron, real-time Twitter analytics

Twitter’s introducing Heron, a Storm replacement that’s equipped to better support Twitter’s huge analytics and activity load—without so much as a burp.

The more robust system makes it possible to provide real-time analytics, up to billions of events per minute with “sub-second latency,” so it won’t freeze up if there’s a major event going down. The result: better developer productivity, better overall performance, and more current analytics for you!

Overwhelmed? SocialBro provides details on how to read Twitter data to meet objectives.

6. Save time with social templates

The kind folks at Buffer App released 24 social media templates to help you prepare reports, build strategies, campaign-plan, and more.

Three of our favorites are the 15-minute social media audit, the Tweet headline formula template, and the editorial calendar publishing schedule.

7. Too many tweets? Never lose the plot again…

Twitter’s made it easier to follow and read ongoing conversations in its timeline. Conversations will be grouped together, with the most “interesting” exchanges highlighted just below.

Use it for ongoing news about an app update, or to follow a Q&A with a celeb. The feature’s already begun to roll out among desktop users; the mobile version will come later.

8. Your Twitter feed can influence your creativity!

Research finds that employees with a diverse Twitter network generate better ideas than those with homogenous networks.

“Diverse” networks are defined as networks that expose users to ideas they don’t already know, which means Twitter is great for cross-pollenating innovation between sectors. The more diverse a person’s network, the more likely she is to be innovative.

The phenomenon was compared to Steve Jobs’ approach: As CEO of Pixar, he insisted that the building be constructed in a way that forces staff to mingle and mix with people from other departments.

Hello, serendipity! And think how much funner your feed will be when it’s not crammed with SEO tips.

9. Shoot and Share landscape vids on Twitter!

We weren’t all born Ansel Adams, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share glorious views worth panning over. To activate Twitter’s new landscape mode on your phone, click on the feature that lets you add a photo to your post. Then hit the camera icon and click the red video button. Turn your phone sideways and start shooting!

10. Vine: Flip through recent and popular videos

A much-needed search update makes it simpler to find inspiring Vine content to fuel your creative juices. Now, when you hit the Explore tab and enter a search term, you’ll have the option to watch top posts or recent ones in addition to related people and tags.

Expect the rollout in coming weeks for iOS; Android might need a longer wait.

11. We’ll wrap with something inspirational

HSBC’s “Lift” ad follows a young company founder over the course of 40 years… without ever leaving an elevator. Set to a pretty tune by Yann Tiersen, you’ll find it hard not to identify with his ups and downs; even in digital, starting a company requires personal sacrifice, crazy hope, and a lot of love.

If you’re a period costuming fan, you’ll love how the clothing, settings, and even the man change as the ad draws to its emotional close, leaving us with the following words: “It’s never just business.” A nice reminder of what matters when trying to approach people on social—which is all about expressing the human side of your company.

HSBC – Lift from Grey London on Vimeo.

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5 Ways You Can Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions: New Research

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social media researchAre you wondering whether social media has any real impact on consumer purchasing decisions? 

Do you sometimes question the potential of social media marketing?

Most businesses and organizations dive into social media hoping to increase brand awareness and acquire more customers. Many are disappointed when it doesn’t pan out.

In this article I’ll share five ways you can adjust your social media tactics to improve your brand’s influence on consumer purchasing decisions.

consumer purchasing research

Find 5 ways to influence consumer purchasing decisions.

#1: Change Social Conversations

A recent Gallup poll published in the State of the American Consumer report indicates that despite the tremendous number of Americans using social media platforms, only 5% say those platforms have a great deal of influence on their purchasing decisions. Worse still, 62% say social media has no influence at all!

What’s the problem? Businesses think they can use social media to influence or change the way consumers think. The toughest lesson for businesses is learning to use social media channels the way consumers want to use them, not the way the business wants to use them.

gallup influence statistics

According to a Gallup poll, most consumers say social media doesn’t influence their purchasing decisions.

Consumers use social media to make conversation and connections. Time and again, research has shown that consumers use social media primarily to connect with family and friends, follow trends and find product reviews or information. They also comment on what’s hot or new and write reviews about products.

Since the 2008 recession, consumers have become more skeptical of businesses and more cautious with their own spending. Hence, it’s highly unlikely that businesses influence consumers’ purchasing behavior simply by talking about themselves and their products on Facebook.

gallup reasons for engagement statistics

Gallup poll: Consumers and businesses use social media very differently.

The only way to motivate your social media audience and convert them into customers is to change the conversation and engage fully with your existing audience—you have to inspire them to advocate on your behalf.

If social media users perceive your messages and intentions as sincere, they will engage with you. But if they suspect you’re trying to market to them, they will hide your content or permanently block you from their feeds.

The bottom line is that social media isn’t primarily about driving sales or influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions. If that’s what you bought into, you’re going to be disappointed. Social media marketing is about making emotional connections through positive customer experiences, exceptional service and engaging conversations.

#2: Appeal to Millennials

The Gallup poll I mentioned in the previous section shows that Millennials in particular—a key social media audience—aren’t easily influenced by social media. Only 7% say social has a great deal of influence on purchasing decisions, while 48% say it has no influence at all.

gallup generations statistics

Millennials are the demographic least swayed by social media marketing.

To influence Millennials via social media, companies have to understand how that demographic consumes information, and then identify how to deliver a marketing message that appeals to them.

Millennials are hyper-connected and consume content on multiple platforms and devices. While they’re enthusiastic about honest, authentic marketing, they want to be in charge of the conversations. They’re uninterested in the opinions of those outside their social group, but super-interested in what their friends think.

Based on the Razorfish Liminal report, you can win over Millennials by creating mobile-friendly content that fits their needs and preferencesdon’t waste their time with generic messages. If you’re not sure what they’re looking for, ask them.

You can build trust with Millennials by showing there’s no clash between policy and practice. For example, if your company’s Twitter bio says you follow back everyone who follows you, be sure to do exactly that. If something goes wrong with your product or service, apologize publicly on social networks (particularly YouTube).

#3: Engage Customers Offline and Online

Social media doesn’t function in a vacuum. If you want to influence consumers, you must engage with them both online and offline. Gallup polls consistently find that customer engagement depends largely on how well an organization aligns all of its touch points.

dr pepper engagement promotion

Dr. Pepper engages with consumers both online and offline.

For example, in the USA, Dr. Pepper encourages customers to create their own t-shirts as a way to join in the fun of their promotional campaigns. They’re turning customers into brand advocates through online offerings that translate offline.

While it’s easier for some industries to leverage both offline and online customer engagement, the key is to understand your brand’s emotional connection with consumers and act upon it. If you don’t know what the emotional connection is, the best thing to do is ask your audience.

#4: Start Authentic Facebook Conversations

Social media is highly personal for consumers—they want to interact with other people, not with brands. Consumers are more likely to respond to companies that are personable and genuine.

Here’s an example of how ADT uses their Facebook page to talk with consumers not at them:

adt facebook update

Instead of pitching their security system, ADT offers travel safety tips to Facebook users.

Notice how this post focuses on an issue that is highly personal, and literally close to home for American homeowners. Instead of pushing their product, ADT offers helpful information.

The lesson for businesses (especially larger corporate brands) is to back off from hard-sell techniques and focus on open dialogue with consumers.

#5: Be Available at All Times

Because social media is 24/7, consumers have come to expect immediate responses from brands—even nights and weekends!

Research shows that 42% of consumers who complain on social media expect a response within 60 minutes. Further, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends—even if it’s not during normal business hours.

Is your brand equipped to handle those expectations?

convince and convert customer service expectations statistic

It’s imperative to address customer concerns quickly.

You can scale your customer service with social media. For example, while one customer service agent is talking to a customer on the phone, another agent can respond to several inquiries via social media.

Another option is to launch an online community to enable customers to help each other. Within that community, you’ll likely find some members who are more engaged and helpful than others—they consistently go the extra mile to help other customers solve their problems. Create an advocacy program to reward (and retain) those people.

Help customers help themselves by offering how-to articles on your blog or website. Make the information easy to find with links on your social profiles and other marketing materials. If customers can solve a problem themselves, it reduces the need to pick up the phone or tweet a reply.

Finally, you’re probably monitoring social mentions already. Continue to do that—customers are a key source of information when your product isn’t working. Listen for negative feedback and reply accordingly.

Over to You

If you’ve been using social media marketing for even a short period of time, you’ve likely realized that consumers are good at tuning out brand-related content on Facebook and Twitter. You know that social media by itself could never motivate a fan or follower to recommend your brand to others, let alone purchase your products.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t change the conversation. Concentrate on what social media audiences want instead of what you want. You’ll likely find more success by catering to customers’ expectations and habits.

What do you think? Have you used any of these tactics to influence consumers through social media? What was your experience? Please share in the comment box below.

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