Facebook hopes to make some pin money with its expanding Gifts offering, while Pinterest launched business accounts. To participate in Facebook Gifts, retailers need a national or even global footprint, as well as massive logistics capabilities. On the other hand, any lil ol' blogger can sign up for a Pinterest business account.
Will social commerce take off this holiday season? And what site will deliver?
On Cyber Monday, Facebook drove 74 percent of social referrals to retail websites, while Pinterest accounted for 15 percent of all social referrals, according to the Adobe Digital Index, based on the analysis of anonymous and aggregated data from more than 500 retail customers who use Adobe Marketing Cloud technology.
It's worth taking a look at relative growth, as well. Facebook's retail referrals were flat from last year, while Pinterest's referrals doubled. There's plenty of growth not only for Pinterest, but for social referrals as a whole: According to the Adobe Digital Index, they are only 2 percent of total online visits.
When considering social commerce, "Brands shouldn't set aside foundational elements -- the social spaces where they've invested successfully in the past," said Teresa Caro, vice president of social marketing for Engauge, a full-service marketing agency. "Pinterest is an excellent place to focus extra holiday attention, particularly if your audience is Pinterest enthusiasts. These are people who are passionate about their areas of interest, who spend time collecting ideas and things that can bring it to life." These boards become shopping tools, Caro added, with many Pinterest users creating wish lists for themselves.
Caro noted that brands can use the Secret Board feature on Pinterest for holiday promotions, pinning content from partners and influencers and then revealing boards one at a time. The most successful boards, she added, include a call to action -- and what better call to action than, "Buy this now?"
Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said, "I like the idea of brands and brand advocates using these sites to generate ideas. Even consumers will say they like to discover things on Pinterest. The problem is that, while Pinterest has had rapid growth in the last year, I've heard it's flatlining. It's a fabulous source for idea generation, but they haven't been able to take it to the next level."
Re Facebook Gifts, Mulpuru noted that gift sites in general have had trouble gaining traction and sales. Another issue, she said, is that customarily, holiday gifts are a surprise, so people don't want to tout them in their Facebook timelines.
Finally, while Pinterest might be hot, brands shouldn't rush in without a plan, Caro said. Nor should they put all their gingerbread men in this basket.
In fact, Adobe found that mobile is a much stronger purchasing driver in terms of percentage of all online sales, as well as in growth.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT