Facebook: Consumer’s Favorite Shopping Buddy

People aren’t just using Facebook to keep in touch with old friends and update statuses. They are relying on the multimedia platform to shop online.

According to a recent study published by HubSpot, which surveyed over 3,000 participants from over 128 countries, 46 percent of Facebook users use the social media network to help make purchasing decisions.

Merchants and their marketing teams have acknowledged the power of social media and have begun to invest more time and money into newer digital channels.

Online Activity Around The World

Consumers in the UK, US, and Australia reported spending the most time on social networking sites. British consumers out shopped North America and Australia, and proved to be the most prolific online shoppers of the three markets.

UK consumers spend an average of 13 minutes of every hour surfing social networking sites, and six minutes shopping online. In 2012, British consumers spent 10 percent of their time online shopping, while U.S. and Australian consumers spent 9 and 6 percent, respectively.

Facebook Is Your Friend

A 2012 PWC global survey reported that 59 percent of consumers follow brands or stores on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Twenty-seven percent of respondents admitted they found out about various brands while surfing social media sites.

The HubSpot study reported that Facebook was the leading social media site that acquired new customer sources. Over 52 percent of businesses said they have found new customers on Facebook in the last year. Company blogs, LinkedIn, and Twitter followed close behind as effective consumer channels.

Customer reviews featured on Facebook pages are a popular feature, as many shoppers will refer to them for guidance when researching product information. Shoppers have explained customer product comments on social media sites and blogs are akin to asking for a friend’s opinion. Consumers described an inherent trust with social site members, and said they are more apt to be persuaded by communal-oriented recommendations.

HubSpot’s survey indicated that 85 percent of consumers who were part of a brand or retail’s group on Facebook recommended the brand to other members on the site.

Along with generating a larger consumer base for merchants, social media also has influence in driving more traffic to the store’s website. More traffic being directed to a company’s site inevitably leads to an increase in online shopping.

The Mobile Migration

The U.S. market has been the leading market for social media consumption for the past three years. However in 2012 this percentage dropped from 30 percent to 27 percent. Australia also dropped from 27 percent to 24, along with the UK, which slipped from 25 to 22 percent.

But don’t let these declining numbers fool you. The reductions do not mean consumers have a lack of interest. It actually means there has been a migration from traditional computer use to mobile phone use for online consumption.

In regards to mobile use, 23 percent of U.S. consumers said checking email was their primary activity. Social media came in second place, and took about 15 percent of their mobile browsing time.

Whether it is traditional computer sale or mobile commerce, many believe that the online marketplace will come to dominate older channels. That being said, the younger generations used to using the Internet are aware of contrived marketing, and are comfortable using social networking to find eCommerce info.

All these numbers must have your head spinning, but hopefully the ultimate message was clear: if retailers are smart and want to increase online sales, they will up their social media game.

To read the PWC Survey results click here, or to read the HubSpot report click here.

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