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How You Can Use Social Media to Spur Holiday Shopping

November 26th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you had any doubts that social media is playing a growing role in consumers’ shopping habits, a new study from Research Now should help dispel them. The survey, conducted by ConsumerSearch.com, looked at what influences consumers to buy when they’re shopping for holiday gifts.

Some 62 percent of respondents report that they regularly use social media to get gift ideas. However, while you might think of social media as simply sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, it also included online reviews and wish lists shared by friends and family. Of all the social options, online reviews were the most popular social source, used by 41 percent of people seeking gift ideas.

That doesn’t mean you should give up on other marketing methods. The study found traditional methods of getting gift ideas were still slightly more popular than social media, with 64 percent reporting they look to ads, company websites and emails from businesses to get ideas for gifts.

While consumers are doing a lot of research before they buy gifts this year, more than one-third (37 percent) report that they rely equally on online and in-store research before committing to a purchase. One-fourth (24 percent) prefer to both research and shop online, and 17 percent prefer to both research and shop in physical stores.

What does it mean for your business this holiday season? To capture your share of the average $500 consumers will spend on gifts this year:

  • Create an integrated marketing plan that incorporates the methods most likely to reach your customer, whether that’s email, online advertising, offline advertising, social media or some combination of the above.
  • Some 65 percent of respondents say they rely on word-of-mouth to get gift ideas—so make it easy for customers to share your marketing messages, whether by encouraging them to “forward this email to a friend” or posting deals and offers on social media. Consider creating “tell a friend” or “bring a friend” shopping discounts and deals.
  • Make sure your products and your store can be found on ratings and review sites. Build your presence online by encouraging your customers to review your store.

Image by Flickr user ivanpw (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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