Social Media Uses Content Marketing to Shop

  |  March 21, 2011   |  Comments

Distributing branded content via social media platforms and formats provides customers with information they need for purchase decisions.

Content marketing feeds social media, especially when it comes to shopping. Regardless of where they buy, most consumers start their purchase process online with research, whether it's finding out more about the product or getting the best deal. Social media's combination of multi-format content and social connections willing to give their feedback make it the ideal starting point for buyers especially since consumers trust other consumers.

Content Marketing Meets Purchase Process

When it comes to shopping, marketers want to get consumers to buy their products and consumers want to get the best product to fulfill their need for the best price. As a result, at each step of the purchase process different types of information are needed that can use a variety of formats. (For details, check out the Content Marketing Meets the Purchase Process chart.)

Phase 1: Research

Marketer's goal: Enter consideration set.

Customer's objective: Collect product information.

Content needed: While prospects and customers may ask their social network for recommendations, everyone researches their purchases online. Therefore, supply information about your products and company. Bear in mind that consumers' information needs vary. Fiskars' blog supports a variety of steps in the shopping cycle by giving customers information about how to use the product in the post! Note there are links to the actual product! They also have a customer gallery.


Phase 2: Engage

Marketer's goal: Build customer relationship and persuade them to purchase from your firm.

Customer's objective: Assess product options and gather more information specifics where needed.

Content needed: At this point, prospects are looking to reduce their purchase options, get their specific questions answered, and finalize their decision. They check reviews and deals. Be aware that prospects may turn to their social networks at this point that can add other options to the mix or influence their decision. Banana Republic helps close the sale by giving customers a variety of photographs with the ability to see close up. They also include reviews.


Phase 3: Buy

Marketer's goal: Convert prospect to a customer.

Customer's objective: Finalize purchase specifics and buy product.

Content needed: While some information prospects seek may be the same as in earlier phases, they're looking for different details like delivery, shipping costs, directions, and best price. Further, customers may purchase while they're on social media sites or talking to customer service, so be prepared! Here's's storefront on Facebook.


Phase 4: Support

Marketer's goal: Continue to expand customer relationship in hopes of getting future sales and developing advocates.

Customer's objective: Enhance product use or return product.

Content needed: Once customers have your product, they may need help to assemble or use it. Here's where customers can help other customers through social media networks, message boards, and other forums. Companies can provide supporting content in the form of blogs, photographs, and videos. Also, Meetups can be useful forums to discuss how to use your product. For example, here's a customer video showing how to use MAC cosmetics.

To show that content marketing via social media platforms isn't only for B2C marketers, here's Dell's community support forum where customers can get their questions answered.


Phase 5: Advocate

Marketer's goal: Get positive word of mouth to attract more customers and support loyal fans.

Customer's objective: Share their experience with others.

Content needed: Post-purchase encourage customers to come back to your website and rate your products. Also, provide customers and fans with a forum to exchange their ideas and show off how they use your product. Here's how Oreo celebrates its customers on Facebook. It changes the photograph weekly and it must incorporate Oreos.


Purchase Process Metrics

Adding content marketing to your social media marketing mix helps support the shopping process. Understand that these interactions can occur before your firm is aware that the prospect is in the purchase cycle so that the data may not be captured. To this end, it's important to use a call-to-action and a tailored promotion code to help track your results. To help you, here are the major categories of metrics to monitor.

  • Content creation. Consider the type of content that is being created and the resources that are used to develop it. How often is content created and where is it distributed?
  • People. How many readers does each piece of content attract, do they return, and what further actions do they take towards purchase or interaction with your firm?
  • Actions. How many pages or views does your content receive? How much time do readers spend on it? Make sure to check the average as well as the range. Do readers register to receive your content on a regular basis and do they share it with others?
  • Brand impact. Does content marketing contribute to improved brand sentiment, or intent to purchase?
  • Sales. How many products were sold that are attributable to the content? Consider both units and revenues. What was the conversion rate?
  • Costs. How much did content cost? Don't forget to include creative, technical, and internal resources.

Distributing branded content via social media platforms and formats provides customers with information they need for purchase decisions. Make sure that you're supplying content that attracts prospects and answers their purchase-related questions to close sales.

Have you incorporated content marketing into your social media marketing plans to support your sales process? If so, what formats have you used and what were the results? Please respond in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital,, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.

Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.

Her blog,, was nominated as a finalist for Top Social Media Blog of 2012 by Social Media Examiner.

Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.

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