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Social Media Trends Watch

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With many having begun their holiday shopping, Mobile and Social Media will be instrumental in kicking retail sales up a notch.

MarketLive conducted an online holiday shopping survey among male and female smartphone users. The survey found that consumer shopping behavior is greatly influenced by social media experiences. 30% of the respondents had made a purchase as a direct result of “engagement with a social networking site” within the past year. That was up from 18% in 2013.

Regarding the shopping activities consumers pursued on social media websites, topping the list was looking for and sharing product recommendations as well as exploring gift ideas. Another focus was the intention to “like” or follow retailers and brands on social sites.

Social media is also being used by retailers to formulate merchandising strategy. A report done by Boston Retail Partners shows the number of retailers using social media to influence product development has grown by 550%! Beyond this, social media offers an opportunity for retailers to provide the types of products that interest their followers, often the most engaged consumers.

Until recently, the social media platforms utilized by retailers have been limited to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. But, more than half of the retailers surveyed shared plans to increase their social media groups in 2015.

Top retailers are now using Instagram as a platform for commerce.  While most retailers use Instagram to maintain an official page or encourage customers to post photos with Instagram hashtags as part of promotional campaigns, some retailers are using Instagram more aggressively.

Banana Republic is part of a group of retailers who are partnering with Instagram on paid advertising. Banana Republic is rolling-out 15 second, content-rich video advertisements through Instagram, connecting to the brand’s female millennial customers.

Lancome, Disney, Cosmopolitian, and Activision are incorporating Instagram videos as a way to interact with consumers. Jonathan Anastas, head of digital and social media at Activision, stated, "Our audience is becoming increasingly mobile-centric, and Instagram is a mobile-centric platform. So it's an important part of the marketing mix."

The Banana Republic ads are not the in-your-face sales pitch. Instead they focus on brand awareness to captivate consumer interest. The video ads must meet criteria according to Instagram standards, consisting of fresh, new material that engages with viewers. This plays into the Instagram wheelhouse of predominantly female users, with the millennial generation using the site more than any other group, at 37%. 

Nordstrom has adopted the Like2Buy platform, which houses Instagram photos that link directly to a brand’s existing ecommerce site. This overcomes Instragram’s inability to link to purchase options, so Like2Buy presents a new way to generate business from this social platform.

Now when shoppers are viewing Nordstrom’s Instragram account, and they see something they like, they can click on the Nordstrom’s profile name, and then the Like2Buy link on the profile page, where there is a gallery of Instagram photos from the retailer. When this is clicked, the consumer is taken to the correct product page.

In addition to buying, consumers can connect their Instagram account to Like2Buy to bring their “liked” images over, allowing them to save items for possible later purchase through the platform.

This streamlines and shortens the route from purchase to social and could help boost conversions.

Almost 93% of 249 brands have adopted Instagram, up from 63% a year ago. Retail and fashion brands are the most likely of industries to market through Instagram. The platform’s engagement is 15 times greater when compared to marketing on Facebook, making it easy for brands to communicate with consumers on a daily basis. The ability to launch video advertisements is a step beyond photo ads and the retailers who take the plunge will have a big advantage over their competitors.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, holiday sales,
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