As shopping on social media wanes, Facebook looks to change the trend

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The trend of shopping through social media is slowing, according to a recent survey.

Digital marketing company Epsilon surveyed 2,800 American consumers during 2014’s fourth quarter and found that 62 percent of consumers use retailers’ websites to shop.

By contrast, only 14 percent of consumers made purchases based on a friend’s social media posts, with 13 percent shopping after a brand’s online post and 11 percent buying after seeing retailers’ social media posts. Social media shopping percentages remained the same or dropped slightly compared with last year’s study.

The study reported that printable coupons (55 percent), retailer emails (50 percent), search engines (47 percent), brand emails (36 percent), product reviews (32 percent), and mobile coupons (26 percent) all encourage consumers to shop more than social media platforms do.

“[T]his year’s study did surprise me, because it doesn’t indicate the kind of growth in social media I would expect, given the passion for it among the people who use it,” Kim Finnerty, Epsilon’s senior vice president for research and insights, told Marketing Land.

Though shopping through social media hasn’t grown over the past year, that’s not to say PR and marketing pros shouldn’t use online platforms to reach consumers.

Finnerty said that some people might not see a brand’s product or sales without social media posts. People who use social media to shop are more likely to be persuaded by friends’ and brands’ content to make a purchase.

The study reported that 26 to 33 percent of consumers were led to try new brands, spend more and make additional unplanned purchases after seeing social media posts by brands, retailers and friends.

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Finnerty also said consumers consult social media along with other marketing efforts when making decisions. She offered Marketing Land the following example to illustrate audience shopping behaviors:

For instance, one woman told us about a retailer that she never shopped at before. She began to notice sponsored tweets from them, then later a friend posted about a purchase there so she asked her friend on Facebook about the retailer and got a positive review, so she went to their website, signed up as a member, got a coupon in her email box and went to the mall to shop and redeem it. And during the course of one day or one week, the same shopper will use different tools in different combinations for different shopping trips.

Shopping through social media might become easier with a new feature that Facebook is testing.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it’s testing virtual storefronts on company pages, which will enable people to buy products and services without leaving Facebook’s site or app.

BuzzFeed reporter Alex Kantrowitz explained how it would work:

The company is building out shops within Facebook Pages, essentially mini e-commerce sites that give businesses a chance to set up second homes within its walls. The shops are still in the testing phase, but some already feature “buy” buttons that allow the entire shopping experience to occur within Facebook — from product discovery to checkout.

“With the shop section on the page, we’re now providing businesses with the ability to showcase their products directly on the page,” Facebook product marketing manager Emma Rodgers told BuzzFeed News.

The social network isn’t the only tech company to work on an online shopping tool.

On Wednesday, Google heralded an upcoming feature that will enable shoppers to buy products that show up in Google’s paid shopping ads. “Purchases on Google” will be unveiled soon, and consumers will be able to use it to buy things directly through their mobile devices, the company said.

How will these new tools affect your social media marketing strategies, Ragan readers?

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Ragan.com

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