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Facebook Dominates Social E-Commerce Referrals, But Social's Share Remains Small

Facebook is the clear leader among social media companies in terms of referrals to mobile e-commerce sites, but social’s overall share of mobile e-commerce remains low, according to a new study from Business Insider’s BI Intelligence.

Citing data from Moovweb, BI Intelligence found that Facebook accounted for 1.32% of all referrals to mobile e-commerce sites, representing half of all traffic from social media sites and 64% of total revenue from social referrals. By contrast Pinterest generated just 0.16% of all referrals to mobile commerce sites, and Twitter contributed a paltry 0.04%. Pinterest accounted for an outsized share of revenue from social referrals, at 16%.

Although social’s share of traffic to e-commerce sites remains relatively small, it’s growing fast, jumping 200% from the first quarter of 2014 to the same period in 2015, according to BI Intelligence. At the same time the rise of mobile presents a number of challenges: for one thing, social media users on mobile devices are 35% less likely to share posts from retailers than they are on desktop.

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Unsurprisingly, all the big social media platforms have been positioning themselves to capture more e-commerce dollars in recent months. In July, Google began testing “buy” buttons in its mobile search results, and Facebook revealed it is experimenting with shops in Facebook Pages, enabling brands to transact e-commerce directly from the Facebook platform. The new functionality builds on Facebook’s previous introduction of a “buy” button, which enabled users to buy specific products featured on the site, by adding product discovery for a more complete shopping experience.

After a limited test period beginning last September, Twitter is rolling out its new “Buy” buttons, more widely through a partnership with Shopify and other e-commerce platforms. The integration between Twitter and Shopify will bring "Buy" buttons to Twitter accounts for roughly 100,000 merchants in the U.S. who already use Shopify software for e-commerce, enabling them to sell products from tweets.

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