Home  › Social › Social Commerce

From Mindshare to Marketshare: Closing the Purchase Gap in Social

  |  June 26, 2012   |  Comments

How brands can improve the effectiveness of their social product promotion efforts.

The role of social marketing has evolved. Instead of just focusing on brand awareness and conversation, marketers are now starting to use social to build real product momentum.

This has been enabled, in large part, by the rich, visual content that social channels now support. Look no further than Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook gallery posts to see how visual content is taking hold and changing the landscape. Marketers and merchandisers are excited as they see these visual social networks as a source to a more direct social return on investment (ROI), as they can influence actual product sales through a direct path of:

Discovery --> Engagement --> Purchase

Whether the eventual purchase may happen online, in a store, or even within social, the need for a path to purchase is clearer than ever. While this evolution in social opens up powerful new opportunities, it has also brought to light an important "gap" in today's social path to purchase; an "engagement gap."

There's a hole in the funnel, dear marketer, dear marketer…

If brands were to map their social product promotion efforts today, most would look something like this:

Step 1: Discovery: post about the product on Facebook Timeline, Pinterest, and Twitter
Step 2: Engagement: nothing
Step 3: Purchase: hope the posts led to some increased sales online or in-store

Put in terms of the social path to purchase outlined above, the "engagement" step is often skipped entirely. This creates a problem for two reasons:

First, brands are missing out on key product amplification opportunities. A customer's point of discovery about a product is a great time to invite them to participate with - and amplify - that product. Let them explore the product in detail, vote on their favorite features, offer feedback and insight, tell their friends about it, etc. The potential for valuable social product amplification goes far beyond just a like or a re-pin.

To illustrate this point, I visited dozens of Facebook pages looking for an example of a brand or retailer successfully promoting products through social. What I found were dozens of companies with post after post and few, if any, product engagement opportunities for customers, which brings us to the second problem:

Social purchase influence and conversion rates are going to be low without an engagement experience to "connects the dots" between discovery and purchase. In some cases - especially for high consideration products - this may be an experience that aggregates the social momentum for that product and invites a customer to explore it in a social context. In other cases, such as a new product launch or an impulse buy, the experience may present a social offer or incentive that creates a compelling reason to purchase.

As the effects of the gap between discovery and purchase are felt in an organization, the importance of social product promotion will continue to grow. However, the good news is that there are a number of ways brands can improve the effectiveness of their social product promotion efforts, and ultimately improve their impact on downstream sales:

  1. Liberally employ the emerging rich product post types in social streams. Facebook Timeline "gallery" posts and the new "Twitter Cards" are good examples. Expect more of these to come.
  2. Tailor engagement experiences to the specific product and audience. For example, don't attempt to get customers to buy a car from a Facebook post click-through. And don't treat your most loyal fans like coupon-clippers. When fans or followers do click through from your post, tweet, or pin, offer them the "next step" in that product's path to purchase through a thoughtful and authentic experience.
  3. Find ways to capture purchase intent. While checkout can be cumbersome in social and mobile contexts, it is easy to add products to a wish list or a shopping cart that can be "forwarded" to your .com site.

While still early, the direction of social marketing toward product promotion and impact on sales is critical and promises to bring meaningful ROI to those brands that design effective paths to purchase. It's up to us, as social marketing strategists and practitioners, to make sure we create compelling product experiences that lay all the stepping stones necessary for customers to effortlessly walk the path from product discovery to purchase.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Tate

Kevin has been working with brands and retailers to build e-commerce and social media marketing solutions since 1995. As an entrepreneur and business development leader in growth-stage companies, he is most interested in developing new markets at the intersection of consumers, brands, and emerging technologies. Kevin currently leads marketing and product management at ShopIgniter, providers of Enterprise Social Commerce solutions to the F1000.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Social newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Chinese Speaking Copywriter
      Chinese Speaking Copywriter (Agora Financial) - BaltimoreDo you speak Chinese? Are you interested in economics and finance or want to learn more...
    • Video/Digital Media Designer
      Video/Digital Media Designer (Confidential) - Delray BeachFull service corporate video production studio looking to hire a creative, and highly...
    • HEAD OF SALES
      HEAD OF SALES (OZONE MEDIA) - Santa Clarawww.ozonemedia.com HEAD OF SALES POSITION Reporting to the founder & CEO, Kiran Gopinath, the Head...