Retail TouchPoints: Social Media Search Key Trend for Holiday Shopping

Oct 26, 2010

By Amanda Ferrante

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

shoppers have indicated that they’re increasingly tapping social
networks for gift ideas, as 27 percent of holiday shoppers last year used social
networks for clues on what gifts to buy friends and family, according to eMarketer.
Even more online shoppers are expected to tap social networks like Facebook this
year for gift-giving ideas.

"A great way to drive gift purchases this holiday
is to use Facebook and Twitter to launch ‘gift guides’ tied to
promotions," said
Clay McDaniel, principal and co-founder of Spring Creek Group, a social media
strategy and marketing services agency.

Mr. McDaniel encourages retailers to
use social networks as a forum to publish offers with verbiage that includes
calls to action for particular gift purchases, like "Save 10 percent
on Best Gifts for Grandma," or "Find
Dad’s Gift — and Save 20 percent." Participants can be required
to take social action — becoming a follower or fan, retweeting the gift guide
URL, or posting it to their Facebook page — to be eligible for the discount.

Mr. McDaniel added that retailers’ social strategy needs to be an
integrated approach to offering deals to customers. "Retailers need to
go beyond thinking of the social channel as a way to disseminate deals, and
think of them more as an integral shopping tool for their customers, who will
rely on their social networks for gift ideas and recommendations," he
said. "This year,
it’s about encouraging an ongoing conversation around your products and
deals, not just amassing one-off purchases."

Patrick Simon Bouaziz, chief
visionary officer at I Love Velvet, stressed the importance of to differentiating
brands on social media platforms.

"Retailers that are able to connect the in-store experience to their
online presence are well poised to strengthen their bond with their fans and
followers, and increase the level of engagement with the brand," said
Mr. Bouaziz. "This
kind of relationship building should come months before the holiday season,
and could be as basic as holding contests that get socially-connected fans
to actually come into the store to redeem special deals."

Chris Carfi,
VP, Edelman Digital, and author of The Social Customer Manifesto,
agrees that it’s important for retailers not to simply push out "messages," but
rather engage with their fan base.

"Instead of telling fans of the retailer what they ‘should’ be
giving as gifts, ask the fans what they think," said Mr. Carfi. "A
conversation starter such as ‘What are the coolest things and gifts you
are seeing?’ could start a long-running thread on either Facebook, Twitter
or a blog that would actually involve the community, instead of pandering to
it. Then, provide an easy, unobtrusive way to purchase the items that the customers
themselves highlighted."

Discussion Questions: How should retailers be plotting their social media
strategies around holiday selling? How should they be capitalizing on social
media’s search capabilities?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: Social Media Search Key Trend for Holiday Shopping"

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Doug Stephens
Doug Stephens
10 years 6 months ago

I’m afraid that tagging your assortment with “save 10% on the perfect gift for Mom” isn’t really going to move the needle very much.

It’s funny that we treat the social space as though it’s new and unfamiliar. The truth is, the same rules apply to social marketing that applied to winning in the 5th century market bazaar; Sell really cool products that people love in a way that makes for a better experience than your competition. The rest will likely look after itself.

Max Goldberg
10 years 6 months ago

Making consumers jump through hoops is not a way to build followers or social media support. Retailers need to adopt a year-round social media strategy. That strategy needs to be seeded with well thought out promotions. Consumers should be asked for personal information that will be used to enhance their shopping experience, and be given ample space on the website for comments about the retailer and merchandise. Then retailers need to back this up with superior customer service. That’s how to draw fans, build “likes” and bring in shoppers.

Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
10 years 6 months ago

Max has this covered well–social media have to be integrated into the shopper experience. Engaging shoppers, building a fan base, a great website, thoughtful, targeted promotions, delivering seamless customer service–all mission critical to compete every day. Blasting out specials and “deals” quickly becomes old news and annoying to busy people.

Brian Kelly
10 years 6 months ago

In Holiday 2010, social media sites will have greater impact than a year ago on “store” sales.

However across the range of media, paid or earned, it will have a relatively minor impact. For big box/mass retailers, mass media will remain their key drivers. For specialty retail, D2C media (snail/email) will remain their key driver.

The execution of social media messaging will be critical to the positive impact upon “store” sales of all/any social media employed. Therein lies the rub.

Or as we like to say, “retail ain’t for sissies.”

Joan Treistman
10 years 6 months ago

The first thing retailers have to do is immerse themselves in social media. They have to know what the conversation is about, who’s asking for help, who’s offering it and the tone of the dialog. I think that in social media it’s more about being available and creatively reactive than pushing products and messages. It’s an opt in and opt out world for consumers.

Marketers no longer have the latitude to hang it all out there, see what happens and readjust. They can easily lose credibility which is hard to win back, if not impossible.

Consumers know they can reach out and find helpful information. Effective marketers will be the ones who learn how to determine which business goals are appropriately integrated into messages consumers seek.

Immersion into the social media world as an observer first will help them understand the opportunities and develop the winning strategies.

Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson
10 years 6 months ago

Social media should be viewed much like loyalty/reward programs, i.e., retailers and consumers should both view the offerings as additional elements of the overall brand experience. With reward programs, customers are often lured at the POS into joining with offers like “join today and get 10% off your purchase.” There’s no real brand engagement–it’s just a price discount.

It’s much the same way with social media, i.e., brands can’t expect to build longer-term brand loyalty by simply offering a few holiday sales via social media sites. Rather, it’s a year-round effort that requires daily tending from the brand to grow customer engagement and loyalty.

Bill Hanifin
10 years 6 months ago

Social media and shopping–seems like a natural combination to me!

Facebook is probably more able to facilitate the ongoing conversations about gift ideas and to engage a wide group of opinion from “trusted” friends.

Twitter might be a good channel for brands to kick start those conversations by offering suggestions, links to videos, photos, and specific areas of catalogs.

Amazon and others have their “wish list” that has been around for years. Now, the social channels allow those lists to be created and developed in a more dynamic fashion.

Ed Rosenbaum
10 years 6 months ago

November is upon us in a very few days. If retailers have not started to implement their plans; it is too late now. They will be behind the curve. I agree with some of the earlier comments about Social Media being a year round program; not just at holiday time. Holiday time should see an increase in the volume of usage; but not the only time it is used. Any retailer not believing in the power of social media by now should consider a new field of work.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
10 years 6 months ago

You need to commit to an interactive dialogue with social media, so offering 10% off Grandma’s sweater does not make a lot of sense. Listening to the voice of the customer is a key concern that I would have that does not seem to be addressed.


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