Social Media Pushes Holiday Shopping, Twitter Blasts Tweets

In terms of actual sales, social media still has little impact on the holiday season. Yet social giants like Facebook and Twitter are doing their part to get people in the shopping spirit.

By one estimate, consumers and brands blasted about 3.5 million tweets -- which accounted for 838 million impressions -- on Black Friday. That’s according to StatSocial, a provider of Twitter audience demographics data, which also recorded about 839,000 tweets -- which accounted for 309 million impressions -- on Cyber Monday.

The figures are helping marketers make sense of consumers’ shifting buying patterns around the holiday season, according to Michael Hussey, CEO of StatSocial.

“Smart marketers are looking to social media analytics to understand the differences between Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers,” Hussey said. “Social advertising gives retailers unprecedented abilities to target the right people at the right time … But to target the right people, you first have to know your audience.”

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On both Black Friday and Cyber Monday of this year, female consumers between the ages of 18 and 44 were responsible for the majority of the activity on Twitter.

On Black Friday, female consumers did 59% of the tweeting, while on Cyber Monday they did 63% of the tweeting. For some reason, younger shoppers did far more of their tweeting on Black Friday (26%) than on Cyber Monday (just 15%).

Over the holiday retail season, online sales are expected to grow between 8% and 11% over last year -- with much of that driven by an increasingly important Cyber Monday -- according to The National Retail Federation.

Total online sales for Black Friday in 2014 grew 20.6% compared to 2013, according to new findings from Custora -- up from 17.8% growth in the 2012-2013 figures.

However, social media channels -- including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest -- contributed just 1.7% of total e-commerce sales, the research firm found. By comparison, email contributed 27.3% of total online sales, followed by 18.9% originating from free search, and 18.5% from paid-search marketing.

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