On average, people use social media worldwide for 135 minutes every day, up from 126 minutes in 2016. This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to reach consumers on the platforms where they already spend more than two hours per day. However, not all retailers are successfully using these channels.
In the final installment of this holiday shopping series (here are parts one and two), Astound Commerce evaluated how retailers use social media as e-commerce and advertising platforms. The Social Media Report, part of the S.O.S.: Save Our Stores series, analyzed 23 metrics across 25 top retailers’ Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts to identify the best practices for retailers on social media.
Astound Commerce quantified social media success by tracking metrics including the freshness of content, access to shopping and frequency of posts. Among the 25 retailers studied, QVC had the most posts across all social outlets, with more than 200 over a span of four weeks. The study also found that while the average amount of posts for retailers was 6.94 per week, Urban Outfitters posted an average of 14.67 times per week. The high volume and frequency of content suggests that these companies consistently share fresh, timely content, which keeps followers informed and interested.
The report also highlights patterns among the top performers on social media:
- Top retailers prioritize accessibility: Customers crave convenience, and retailers are getting creative to meet this expectation. The study found that 92 percent of retailers’ social media accounts had a “Shop Now” button, which connects users directly to the company’s shopping site or app. While some companies provide a link to their website from social accounts, others satisfy customers with shoppable content. With smaller screens to browse, it’s essential to make the mobile path to purchase user friendly.
- Communication capabilities have changed for social: The report discovered that detailed contact information was available on only 28 percent of retailers’ social media sites. However, although phone numbers and email addresses weren’t clearly listed, companies are offering efficient alternative contact options. In fact, 79 percent of accounts provided direct messaging options, making it easy for users to communicate with staff. Access to customer service has always been an important part of the buyer journey, and direct messaging is a new, efficient way for customers to connect.
- Retailers don’t always showcase the logistics features consumers want: Thanks to the Amazon effect, free shipping is a factor in almost every consumer buying decision. However, retailers aren’t capitalizing on this expectation. Only 7 percent of retailers posted about free shipping on their social sites, suggesting businesses’ accounts don’t accurately capture the final part of the customer journey. To increase sales through social platforms, businesses need to identify the topics that not only catch a consumer’s eye, but also persuade them to complete a purchase.
As the final part of our series on holiday shopping trends, it’s clear that retailers and brands should be leveraging social channels as a powerful revenue driver. As e-commerce evolves, it’s essential for businesses to integrate multiple channels into their approach. Doing so will set them up for success in the next holiday season and beyond.
Sebastian Klare is the vice president of global marketing at Astound Commerce, a global digital commerce agency.
Related story: Learning From the Holiday Season, Part 2