By adaptive - November 12th, 2014

With retailers are gearing up for the holiday season, the brands that can maximise levels of engagement and discoverability will win consumer spending

As we approach the holiday season, corporations’ are once again considering how they can leverage their brands across the social space. As social media has matured it has increasingly become a place not only to share, but also to buy. 
All of the leading social media networks have or are developing buy buttons to make purchases a seamless experience. And the numbers are massive with the US National Retail Federation reporting the holiday season is now worth $650 billion dollars.
Where social media and retail meet social commerce has developed. With nearly three-quarters of US adults active on the main social media channels each month, this presents a massive opportunity for corporations to leverage their brands. And relatively new channels such as Instagram will see a huge expansion in how they are used as potential commercial spaces this year.
Mairead Ridge, Senior Manager of Marketing at Offerpop told Venture Beat: “Instagram’s rapid growth has not gone unnoticed by marketers. Retailers are bullish on the photo-sharing platform, with 73% identifying it as the breakout social network of 2014. Instagram’s marketing roadblocks such as a lack of hyperlinks and a generally young user base make it a secondary option to Facebook and Twitter during the holidays, but brands are intrigued by the highly visual platform’s potential to add depth and reach to holiday campaigns.”
"Social commerce for brands is about monetizing their investments in building these large social communities, pushing their followers further down the purchase funnel, capitalizing on impulse purchases," says Danielle Bailey, Research Director, L2. "Social commerce for many brands will represent the Holy Grail as they will finally be able to have a measurable metric by which to judge the value of their social communities and investments."

Commercial opportunities

The DataPop and Kenshoo Social Commerce Index looks closely at the development of social commerce focusing on proprietary analytics to evaluate tens of thousands of Pins and social posts. The research spanned 13 retail verticals and cover thousands of products most relevant to consumer intents as indicated by keywords. Using the findings from this diverse data set, retailers can benchmark their progress towards driving deeper consumer engagement and discoverability on social commerce sites today.
Brands have understood and spent millions on ads and promotions to reach their target customers. Discoverabiity has been transformed thanks to social media. Traditionally SEO has played a major part in discoverability. This is certainly still the case in some respects, but has been further developed across certain social media channels. Visual marketing has grown massively over the last two years with the rise of Pinterest and Polyvore.
Kenshoo advise: “Optimizing your Pin description can have a dramatic effect on Pinterest search impressions. Try to anticipate what Pinners might be looking for and include these terms in your Pin descriptions. Make sure the description also includes any other important details about the Pin.”
Pinterest Engagement
Engagement with consumers is also becoming more focused. Staying with visual marketing, Kenshoo’s research clearly indicates that product-based pins deliver 70% more likes and re-pins than general branding images or messages. Brand building still has its place, but clearly consumers are engaging directly with specific products – something that should guide your corporation’s marketing activity.
The Kenshoo research advises:
  1. Align your social commerce content with consumer trends.
  2. Brands should post more products to sites like Pinterest to maximise discoverability.
  3. Leverage the advanced features that are on offer such as Rich Pins.
“The adoption of social commerce efforts by retailers is on the rise, but significant opportunity remains,” Kenshoo concludes. “One of the greatest challenges that retailers face is identifying which team should manage the commerce aspect of social, the social team or the direct response team? Social commerce is not purely transactional, and therefore provides opportunities for both teams to develop a strategy. The first step is setting up a process to bridge the two teams, ultimately breaking down organizational silos and modelling the consumer journey of both discovery and shopping.”
Discoverability and engagement are then the keys to commercial success across the social media space. While social commerce adoption is on the rise, many retailers are just beginning to explore the expansive opportunities available for product marketing on these platforms.
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