What makes Millennials tick?

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

Think about the last time you made a purchase. Whether it was a couch or a pair of pants, chances are you took time to research until you found what you wanted to buy. Maybe you browsed user reviews on the company's website. Maybe you asked for feedback on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe you created a pin board of potential candidates on Pinterest. Congratulations! You're a social shopper.

Shopping combines relationships, connections and conversations with purchasing. Sometimes it's more about the relationships — when we take our best friend to go the outlets; other times it's about the purchase — when we want to get the best deal. Every time a consumer consults others in an effort to make a more informed purchasing decision, it can affect your company. What people are saying about you and your products can influence what people buy.

There is much to gain by leveraging the loyalty and sustained satisfaction that social media can bring. Successful social media campaigns start with understanding the behaviors associated with your audience. Here are some best practices designed to get the most out of social media as you launch campaigns to connect with customers.

What is social shopping?

Social shopping refers to consumers who use social networking services and sites to share their latest purchases, deals, coupons, product reviews, wish lists, and other shopping finds. It usually refers to e-commerce, like online shopping, but it can also be applied to in-store purchases as well.

Who are social shoppers?

According to research by NetBase, social shoppers are social media users who strongly agree with the statement: "The brands and products my friends use influence my own purchase decisions."

If we look at friends from the context of a social network, it's a pretty big network of influencers, as the average number of Facebook friends of U.S. users in 2014, for 18-24 years old is 649, while those ages 25 – 43 have 360. That's a lot of influencers!

How do social shoppers get influenced and influence others?

To better understand the behaviors of social shoppers, here are four categories social shoppers may fall into.

The Efficiency-Sprint Shopper

▪ uses social media to help narrow in rapidly on consumer-generated information to make sensible purchases

▪ looks at top rated reviews for best results

▪ relies of group think to make decisions

▪ uses sites like Yelp or reviews on Amazon

The Peer Shopper

▪ relies heavily on recommendations and tips from friends

▪ trusts their friends more than other sources

▪ uses Facebook as their primary network for gathering insights

The In-the-Know Shopper

▪ cultivates a following based on their insider status

▪ mentions or tag brands/companies in Tweets or posts

▪ craves connections with brands/companies

▪ uses Twitter, check-ins to broadcast

The Impulse-Buying Shopper

▪ suffers from FOMO — fear of missing out on great deals

▪ uses daily deal sites, search for coupon codes before buying

▪ shares deals to friends to receive incentives

▪ participates in online giveaways, contests and other social promotions

What Social Shopping Looks Like

Best Practices for Influencing Social Shoppers

How can retailers connect with shoppers? Here are few ways marketers can leverage social shopping to drive traffic, sales, and loyalty and become the ultimate influencer.

Show social proof: Convince visitors to take an action by showing the support of hundreds or thousands of "likes" or testimonies from people they may know. When shoppers see how many of their friends have bought or reviewed an item, they may be more likely to browse or commit to purchase.

Make sharing easy: Make it easy for customers to share their shopping experiences with others. Encourage customers to share what's in their cart after checkout. Offer promotional codes to those that share their purchases with friends and family. Ask or reward customers to Instagram or Tweet their wares after purchase.

Analyze sharing behaviors of customers: What are customers saying when they share information about your product? Is it positive or negative? What products are they sharing the most? What networks are they sharing to and what networks are driving traffic to your site? When customers ask questions about your products are you responding? Are your customers responding? What do you know about them? Could you be rewarding them for their assistance? The more you understand about what they're talking about, the better you can respond to meet their needs.

Create a new vocabulary: You can see what products people are pinning from your website and how they are categorizing them on their boards (simply use www.pinterest.com/source/WEBSITE). What words are they using to describe them? What can you learn? If they're adding them to boards called 'wishlist'— perhaps you can offer promotions? randomly reward customers? Maybe they're using products in unique ways. Use what you're learning and add these words into your messaging or incorporate these keywords into your social advertising campaigns.

Integrate online and in-store experiences: Does the online experience compliment the in-store experience? When you're in-store is it easy to connect to Wifi? Have you leveraged location-based technology to offer promotions when customers are nearby? Can mobile coupons be redeemed easily at checkout? When online, offer to let customers pay online and pick up in store. This can make customers become more familiar with the in-store experience. Make sure they feel welcomed when they arrive!

No matter how you choose to leverage the power of social shoppers, it's important to first understand the behaviors of your audience to learn where they are online and what they're doing there. Then, you can learn how their social behaviors can help drive traffic, cultivate relationships and build loyalty. Happy Shopping!

Marisa P
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Marisa Peacock is the principal and chief strategist for The Strategic Peacock. As a social business strategist and marketing consultant, Marisa helps organizations create and implement online strategies that enhance their online presence. Additionally, Marisa is also an adjunct faculty member at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media. She teaches social media marketing.
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