A Gift for Marketers -- The link between social media and holiday spending

Posted by Clayton Smith on December 15, 2011

I came across this infographic today (from Mr. Youth, via Mashable), which illustrates the link between holiday purchases and social media. The graphic suggests there is indeed a strong correlation between social media communication and product purchases, offering evidence from two sides of the social media coin; the social side, where you interact with family and friends, and the marketing side, where you interact with businesses and brands.

According to Mashable, Mr. Youth "polled about 4,500 adults and found that social media is a key driver of holiday gift purchases this year." Here are a few of the statistical highlights:

93% of social media users made or received purchase recommendations on Facebook.
It's a reliable piece of industry knowledge that word-of-mouth is a marketer's best tool when it comes to generating sales. Social media is, at its core, word-of-mouth amplified; instead of one-to-one personal communication, social platforms allow for one-to-many communication. Facebook is by far the largest social network out there, and if it's worth saying, then it's probably worth saying on Facebook. The importance of digital word-of-mouth just can't be overstated, so neither can the importance of social media brand representation.

65% of recommendations made or received by a social media user led to a purchase, while just 33% of recommendations made or received by a non-user led to a purchase.
According to this statistic, social media users are about twice as likely to be moved to action by recommendations than are those who do not use social media. My hunch is that part of the reason for this is because social media makes it easy for other people to chime in with their own positive product reviews. For example, if a Facebook friend suggests I should buy a Nook, other Facebook friends are able to encourage this endorsement by commenting on the original post. Similarly, if I post on Facebook that I'm looking to buy an e-reader, every Facebook friend I have has the potential to offer a recommendation. In this way, social media can easily lead to a whole gaggle of recommendations, where a personal, "analog" recommendation stands alone. And, as we all know, there's quite a bit of strength in numbers.

36% of social media users trust brands that have a social media presence more than brands that do not.
In my opinion, this comes down to relatability. If I use social media, then I can more easily relate to companies that do the same. One other possible explanation for this correlation between trust and social media usage is that the more people use social media, the less some of them are using traditional media to gather news and find entertainment. Brands not found on social media just might not be getting their messages across to heavy social media users, which could account for lowered trust in those users as well.

Brands only respond to half of brand page posts from consumers.
Not knowing how this data was gathered, it's hard to make sweeping judgments about this stat. The infographic doesn't give any indication as to whether or not every post made was a question or a complaint. I don't think every post necessarily requires a response; however, having said that, responding to the public via the channels through which they contact you is extremely important for any company. Social media networks are great tools for customer relationship management, and companies using them just as marketing platforms should consider this communicative aspect of social tools.

The Bottom Line
I'd been wondering what sort of impact social media was having on holiday shopping this season, and Mr. Youth's research is both timely and intriguing. I strongly suggest you take a look at it and see what sort of impact your company might be having this month. It's encouraging for us here at Gremln to hear that social media is truly helping drive sales...and we'd love to hear some specific examples of how social media has been working for you this holiday season. Please share your own campaigns in the comments below!

Topics: Business, crm, facebook, gremlin, gremln, holiday, Marketing, ROI, sales, social media, strategy

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