This holiday season, brace yourself for a new paradigm in social marketing — one that values sales over status updates and commerce over engagement.
Last holiday season, social marketers for major retail brands saw how many fans they could corral or how many likes they could amass. Those same marketers are now on a quest to deliver the strongest ROI for brands; not in “likes,” but in the form of social commerce success.
In November and December, during an estimated $650 billion holiday spending spree, Facebook and Twitter will both debut “buy” buttons that allow in-feed sales within the world’s two most prominent social networks. These new commerce tools will address retailers’ growing focus on driving sales through social media.
Given these recent commerce developments and the fact that Facebook will permanently abandon like-gating come November, our internal marketing team at Offerpop collected data from digital brand strategists to reveal trends and behaviors we’re likely to see this holiday season. Not surprisingly, over half (62 percent to be exact) of those surveyed, both domestically and internationally, will focus on growing sales and extending brand reach this holiday season.
We should expect to see marketers roll out robust advertising budgets, creative campaigns using features such as hashtags and referral programs, and focus on the social networks most effective at driving fan traffic to website stores. And don’t be surprised if said online store galleries boast user-generated content to fuel socially influenced purchases, such as this example from Canadian clothing company Hudson’s Bay.
Social media has already matured into a critical centerpiece of any retailer’s holiday strategy. With 1.28 billion monthly active users on Facebook and 255 million active monthly users on Twitter, the holiday consumer is now more dependent than ever on social media for information and incentives that will prompt ecommerce sales or in-store purchasing decisions. In fact, 72% of U.S. adults are active on Facebook at least once per month, giving digital marketers an opportunity to influence a majority of holiday shoppers on one platform alone. There is no doubting the potential for ROI here.
Retailers can’t be successful this holiday season without a sophisticated social media strategy. Our survey further found that 67 percent of marketers budgeted to spend more on social media this year than last. With increased investments, those marketers will turn to specific networks to accomplish ecommerce goals, and our survey results yielded surprising results in that department, too.
Despite the evolving landscape of social media, 92 percent of the marketers surveyed say they will allocate the majority of their social media holiday budgets to Facebook. With its frequency of use and slightly older demographic, Facebook remains the leader in accomplishing marketers’ ecommerce goals regardless of any “backlash” the network has recently experienced.
Instagram’s rapid growth has not gone unnoticed by marketers. Retailers are bullish on the photo-sharing platform, with 73 percent identifying it as the breakout social network of 2014. Instagram’s marketing roadblocks such as a lack of hyperlinks and a generally young user base make it a secondary option to Facebook and Twitter during the holidays, but brands are intrigued by the highly visual platform’s potential to add depth and reach to holiday campaigns.
However, our findings revealed that marketers are sitting on the sidelines of emerging networks like Snapchat and Swarm that lack a proven ROI for brands. 48 percent of marketers do not plan on investing in any emerging social networks this holiday season.
The survey data shows that social marketing is maturing rapidly, with a new focus on driving commerce and increasing investment in proven revenue channels like Facebook. This holiday season, we’ll see marketers testing Facebook and Twitter’s new commerce capabilities, while leveraging Instagram for holiday campaigns. Retailers simply cannot be successful during this critical sales time if they do not invest in targeted and effective social media programs.
Mairead Ridge is Senior Manager of Marketing at Offerpop in New York City, where she leads the creative and community team. The company offers a digital-marketing platform for businesses that can curate user-generated photos and video, engage with consumers via social media and connect with users on social platforms for ecommerce sales.