Some four in 10 social media users have purchased an item online or in a store after sharing or favoriting it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, according to a recent study, but it gets a little muddy when trying to determine were search marketing comes in and how consumers make the journey from tweeting, pinning or liking something to the actually purchase.
The Vision Critical study analyzes 6,000 survey responses on social, not search, to provide insight on purchasing behavior of consumers. The report not only shares answers to many social-related questions, but those questions that still remain unanswered. It also suggests social media drives in-store sales. The biggest question for me remains how search engine marketing fits in.
At the last Search Insider summit in Florida, Eric Papczum led a panel on social search engine optimization (SSEO). The session illustrates how an effective social media campaign will yield positive returns for search engine marketers, not only as shared media, but also as the foundation for the next generation of SEO, or SSEO.
It's no surprise that social network use varies by gender, age and site. Females prefer Pinterest and Facebook. Some 83% of females prefer Pinterest, compared with 57% for Facebook and 46% on Twitter. Overall, 17% of Pinterest users log in daily, compared with 26% weekly and 19% monthly.
Some 75% of Facebook users log in daily, but 75% of social media users ages 18 to 24 log-in several times daily. This compares with 15% weekly and 6% monthly. And 17% of Twitter users log in daily, compared with 12% weekly, and 10% monthly.
Half of social media related purchases take place within one week of sharing or favoriting the purchase, according to the study. While Pinterest pins are the most likely to drive spontaneous purchases, Twitter and Facebook purchases are more likely to make social media related purchases they were already researching or considering.
Facebook users seem the least likely to purchase. The study calls 68% of Facebook users "lurkers," those who post rarely, so the influence of social on their purchase isn't visible from social media analytics alone.
The survey makes it clear that different topics and content resonate best on each network, so consider the audience when reaching out. Pinterest users, 66%, look for restaurant or food related posts, whereas 44% on Facebook want health information, which also rings loudly on Twitter at 51%. Consider content about fashion on Pinterest before Facebook, for instance.
The study also suggests brands need to ask questions to determine the types of photos, music, video or stories consumers find engaging on each platform. Do they want informational content on one platform and aesthetic inspiration on another? And, to understand how social media drives revenue for their respective business, combine social media and transactional data with customer surveys to find the social path to purchase for products.