Social networking, we’re told over and over again, is all about relationships. Which is all very well. But that doesn’t answer the question on the mind of every business owner.
Can social lead to sales?
The research has been done, and the results are in. It’s good news! Social can (and does) lead to sales — as long as you do it right.
Let’s take a look at how social media influences purchasing decisions, and what you can do to make the most of your social marketing.
Recent research by Vision Critical asked social media users how and why they’d connected with brands on social media before making a purchase. They found a wide range of answers, all of which can help online retailers develop their social media strategy.
Social media, they discovered, can play an important role in nudging customers towards the checkout.
In other words, while social media is rarely the only player in converting leads into sales, it does have a vital role to play in the sales funnel. If businesses cut out social media, they would lose sales. And that’s not only the sales they can measure from socially driven traffic.
Here are the reasons people connect with brands on social media. We’ll also look at how brands can use this information to drive sales.
Finding a Local or Online Store
This was the most popular reason consumers gave for connecting with a brand on Twitter before they took the plunge and hit the buy button.
To take advantage of this, ensure your social media profiles are fully completed. Do your social media accounts include a clear link to your eCommerce store? On social networks where it’s possible to include your real world address (Facebook and Google Plus), have you listed it?
Customer’s won’t buy from you if they can’t find where they can hand over their money.
Getting a Good Deal
Both Facebook and Twitter are popular places for hunting out bargains. Over a third (37%) of people who made a purchase after connecting with a brand on Facebook said they did so because the Facebook page alerted them to a sale or deal. Using Facebook and Twitter to pick up coupon codes was also cited as a reason for connecting.
Whenever you’re holding a sale or promotion, make sure you alert your social media fans and followers.
Seeking Out Product Information
The top reason customers gave for seeking out brands on Pinterest was to find out more about a product or service. A third of people doing this were looking for reviews and recommendations, while a similar number were checking out product details.
Obviously, you can’t write your own reviews. But you can ask customers who’ve purchased from you to leave reviews. What’s more, when you share product images on Pinterest, make sure you include product details in the image description.
Following Advice from a Friend
A significant proportion of customers who’d made a purchase via social media said they did so after someone they trusted shared their views on the product.
Businesses have little control over face-to-face recommendations, but they can encourage online talk about their products by including social sharing buttons on product pages. What’s more, brands can reach out to leading bloggers in their niche to ask for product reviews.
Stumbling Across a Product
Across all social networks, around a third of those who made a purchase said social media was the way they first discovered the product.
The lesson here is that while you should avoid constantly promoting your products on social, you shouldn’t be shy of shining a spotlight on particular products from time to time.
Acting as a Reminder
For almost a quarter of customers who connected through Facebook, social media reminded them to purchase a product they already planned to buy.
If you want to stay top of mind for your social media followers, so you’re the store they choose when making a purchase, make sure you’re regularly updating you social media accounts. That way, you’ll show up in the social media feeds of your customers.
Written by David Masters
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