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What Can Social Media & Facebook Do For Your Products?

by Tim Rimington | April 3, 2012

A report published this week suggested that you forget search engines or manufacturer's websites as ways to drive traffic to your online shop or website. Instead, it suggests, consumers of today are researching products in new ways, albeit with an old-fashioned twist: they're asking their friends first.

A California-based marketing company conducted a survey earlier this year that asked over one thousand respondents how they researched products (those involved with the survey were people who shopped at least quarterly online and were also monthly Facebook users). Their study coughed up some not so startling facts and figures.

Social sharing is considered a mainstream activity. 62% of all online shoppers had read product-related comments from friends on Facebook, and 75% of those people then clicked through to a retailer's website. Sales were also well-driven from that resulting traffic, with 53% of those who clicked purchasing the product that was originally shared or discussed.

Another interesting point to come from this study was that once a consumer was exposed to such a social sharing and buying experience, that 57% of shoppers became more likely to buy that way in future.

Some of the study's recommendations suggested that retailers will increase the benefits of social sharing by simply displaying social sharing buttons on their product and general shop pages (no surprise there). So if you think those fancy social buttons on your eCommerce website don't achieve much, then your thinking is at loggerheads with the 38% of online shoppers who have shared their comments with friends about products they've purchased. Note: a product they've already purchased. 

It seems, too, that people who use Facebook do actually read the product-related comments posted by their friends, in fact 62% of online shoppers fall into that category. Of those people who read product comments, 75% of those have gone on to click on the product image linking back to the seller's website. Finally, 53% of those who arrived at the website in this manner went on to make the purchase. Not bad for a little button glued to the bottom of your product pages!

The people who did buy using this manner are considered valuable customers because 81% are social sharers too. A nice cycle for retailers.

So the share-to-purchase traffic funnel begins to look a little like this: All Shoppers » 62% read friend's comments via FB » 75% click through to retailer » 53% purchase the product » 25% of all shoppers.

eRetailers should note that when asked the question, "What was your primary motivation for sharing information about your product purchase with friends on Facebook?", over 40% of those surveyed said that they shared the link to Facebook because, "I wanted to share the deal I got so they can get the same deal", whereas just on 25% suggested that they wanted to share the reasons why they chose the particular product. Retailers should also note that 62% of shoppers are more likely to stay and shop on a website if the website displays a list of friends (or other Facebook users) who have purchased there (refer to the Facebook website for developer applications for your online shop).

Apparently consumers find social sharing the equivalent to Google search when it comes to helpfulness in looking for a product to buy, with almost as many people considering Facebook to be at a similar level (48%) to that of Google search (49%). These figures I found surprising.

But is there a flip-side to all this good stuff, all this worldly Facebook goodness? Maybe.

The primary reasons why people don't click on product share buttons is a concern that they will be perceived as too trivial or perhaps "pushing" a product to friends.

Not surprisingly, Facebook feeds or timelines weren't the only recognised method of sharing product information and purchases with friends. 73% of online shoppers said that they are more likely to share their product review if the review stays on the retailer's website rather than being posted to their Facebook profile. This should tell you, the retailer, that you need to provide customers with the choice of sharing their opinions about your products via their Facebook identity only rather than posting the whole opinion into a timeline. Also don't forget that offers and special deals are valuable for both sharers and shoppers. 

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