EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2870 - August 15, 2012     2 of 3

The Surprising Facts about Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn

By Greg Holden

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The fast-growing social media site Pinterest is emerging as a prime competitor to Facebook in referring shoppers to retail apparel sites, according to data compiled by ComScore Media in the second quarter of 2012. Facebook led with 54 percent of all social media referrals to retail apparel sites, but Pinterest placed second, generating 30 percent of all referrals to those sites.

"Facebook and Pinterest are key channels everyone should be focused on, although LinkedIn attracts the most online buyers," said Andrew Lipsman, vice-president for Industry Analysis with comScore, during the section of comScore's report quantifying the effects of the social web on ecommerce.

The key trend online businesses of all sizes need to be aware of is the rise of the visual Web, said Lipsman, and the three key players are Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. "They emphasize what's visually appealing, hitting people on an emotional core. This lays the groundwork for effective marketing tactics."

With around 23 million visitors each in the last month, Pinterest and Instagram are among the two hottest growth sites on the Web, said Lipsman. Pinterest users spend an average of an hour on the site, and 90 percent are women, making Pinterest a prime location for retailers to do marketing.

"Social networkers tend to be heavier online buyers, Pinterest users are higher spenders," Lipsman added. While LinkedIn is highest in terms of the number of users who go on to spend online, Pinterest is second. "If you are a retailer, you should be there."

The top content categories for visitors who are also Pinterest users are as follows:

1) Jewelry, luxury goods, and accessories;
2) Flowers, gifts, and greetings;
3) Fragrances and cosmetics;
4) Food.

The ComScore study also verified the value of marketing a product or brand on Facebook, whether the marketing is done through earned (non-paid) advertising, or through paid advertising. As an example, four weeks after a social media campaign launched by the coffee retailer Starbucks, 38 percent more social media users made purchases in the store compared to a control group. "Just by viewing a media exposure, there are latent branding effects that lead to a purchase," said Lipsman. Those who saw paid ads placed by Starbucks were more likely to make a purchase in a store compared to a control group.

How can business take full advantage of social marketing? Lipsman offered these tips:

  • Move beyond simply collecting fans: Use them as a leverage point to achieve marketing objectives.
  • Reach fans effectively. Engage them with useful content.
  • Quantify who your fans are. Tie metrics to your marketing strategies
  • Quantify the value of earned media to measure the social life.
  • Cultivate the "virtuous cycle" of paid, earned, and owned media to maximize sales.

Not all of the benefits of social marketing and paid advertising on Facebook take the form of click-throughs. Brand-building through earned and paid media is a benefit that shows tangible benefits through in-store purchases, Lipsman emphasized.

Other takeaways from the comScore report:

  • Ecommerce grew by 15 percent in Q2 of 2012, compared to only 2 percent in offline sales. On a cautionary note, consumer sentiment weakened this quarter, and that may play out in the second half of the year.
  • Mobile devices and tablets accounted for 8-9 percent of all ecommerce sales in Q2
  • Leading "deal of the day" sites are now seeing more visitors from mobile devices than from the fixed Internet and the value of offers has increased dramatically. Both Groupon and LivingSocial are seeing more traffic from mobile devices than fixed desktop computers.
  • The top "flash sale" sites were Zulily.com, Woot.com, and Gilt Groupe.
  • How important is free shipping? Free shipping was involved in 42 percent of e-commerce sales in Q2 of 2012. "It is a fact of life and a cost of doing business, said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. When asked if they would be more likely to pay for shipping their home or use free in-store pickup, 39% of those asked said they would pay, while 61% said they would be more likely to use free in store pickup for example.

About the Author
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires, both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, GregHolden.com, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.


About the author:

Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.


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