Social Media’s Purchase Influence Said to Reach Across Channels

October 10, 2012

Half of US consumers surveyed by Yesmail say social media somewhat or strongly influences their online purchase decisions, according to [download page] an October 2012 report from Yesmail. But social’s influence extends to in-store shopping behavior, too: slightly more than 4 in 10 respondents report that social media plays a part in their in-store purchase decisions, which the study suggests calls for a more active role for social media in promoting in-store deals.

Many social media users like or follow brands on social media to get access to special promotions and discounts, and these promotions appear to be having their intended effect: 34% of the Yesmail survey respondents say they have purchased a product as a result of a promotion over social media. Interestingly, research Yesmail conducted alongside its survey found that only 8% of Facebook campaigns tracked over a 3-month period offered any promotion, as did only 4% of Twitter campaigns.

Social Brand Engagement On The Rise

Some 56% of consumers said their interaction with brands on social media has remained the same or increased since 2011. Over the course of the study, brand fans on Facebook grew by an average of 5% per month, and brand followers on Twitter by 3%. For the 20 brands over a 3-month period, that represented more than 12 million brand Facebook fans and 373,715 brand Twitter followers. (See here for September’s top brand movers on Facebook; here for the list of top movers on Twitter.)

The most popular form of social engagement with brands is the Facebook “Like,” and an overwhelming majority of respondents (85%) report having liked a brand or commented on the brand’s Facebook page. Facebook campaign engagement grew 105% over the 3-month period.

YouTube views on brand channels were in a distant second place, with 17% of respondents having watched such a video. The third most-used method of brand interaction among respondents is writing a review on a social forum or blog (15%), followed by pinning an image on a Pinterest brand page (14%). Retailers are particularly bullish on Pinterest, particularly in combination with email. As reported by Econsultancy, Responsys observes that since mid-February 2012, more than 55% of major retailers have promoted their Pinterest presences via email. Some 53% of those major retailers have promoted their Pinterest Pinboards, 17% have promoted a Pinterest-based contest, and 6% have included Pin It sharing links in emails.

Meanwhile, just 12% of the Yesmail respondents report having interacted with a brand on Twitter, but the researchers observe that this may reflect the more tech-interested composition of the Twitterverse, with the highest Twitter engagements being for technology brands.

Social Campaign Frequency: Less Is More

Consumer brand engagement drops as social campaign frequency rises, according to the report, a finding that gels with Lab42 survey results showing that social media users who don’t like brands on Facebook are primarily deterred by newsfeed clutter (see link above).

Among the 20 brands tracked by Yesmail, the three most engaging on Facebook were T-Mobile, Nordstrom and Rue La La, which deployed on average 54 campaigns monthly. The least engaging (HH Gregg, Best Buy, and Dell) averaged 76 campaigns monthly. Overall these major brand marketers appear wise to consumer sentiment, as the number of Facebook campaigns per brand on average dropped significantly from 100 to about 46 over the course of the study, though this may be attributable in some part to seasonality.

On YouTube, the most engaging brands deployed 11 campaigns per month on average, while the least engaging brands (HH Gregg, Walmart and Toys R Us) deployed 25 on average.

About The Data: Yesmail developed and administered a comprehensive survey and polled more than 500 US consumers about their on- and off-line purchase behaviors, social media consumption and mobile device usage, then analyzed the data using the Yesmail Market Intelligence proprietary tool to analyze the digital marketing campaigns of 20 leading brands that rely upon online and/or in-store traffic through the holiday season.

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