Social media has matured into a mandatory marketing channel for brands. Today’s leading social networks have advanced advertising tools, social commerce features and mobile capabilities. The channel has come a long way toward proving ROI for businesses — and it still has plenty of untapped potential.
With all the shiny new tools and platforms digital marketers can use to maximize brand social efforts, the holiday shopping season will be a test of their ability to influence consumers and score a slice of the estimated $650 billion spent before the year’s end.
Offerpop analyzed data collected from more than 100 domestic and international digital marketers, and discovered marketing departments of all sizes are investing more in social media this year. In fact, 67% have already committed to a larger investment in social media than last holiday season.
But where is that budget going? What efforts, platforms, end goals does the increased budget support? Here are our findings and recommendations based on the data we collected for our research report:
Socialize commerce: 62% of the surveyed marketers chose extending reach and driving sales as their primary goals this season. This stands to reason — there are big opportunities for retailers to drive direct sales from social media. Marketers and brands can now enable social commerce transactions through multiple in-network features, including: Facebook’s buy button, Twitter’s buy button, and Twitter’s commerce partnerships with Amazon, American Express and CardSpring. And social networks have revenue impact beyond in-network sales. Retailers are reporting an increase in e-commerce transactions referred by social networks.
Don’t abandon Facebook: Facebook remains king in 2014. Despite the rising popularity of other networks, 92% of the marketers we surveyed planned on allotting the majority of their budgets to Facebook during the holidays. Facebook’s extensive advertising options give it the best chance to reach any of the 71% of online U.S. adults that use Facebook, according to Microsoft. Marketers would be smart to allocate a modest budget for other social networks, and make a heavy investment in this proven social platform.
Invest in Instagram: Many predicted that Google+ would be the breakout network of 2014, but marketers tell a different story. About three-fourths of surveyed marketers labeled Instagram as the breakout network of the year, and most plan on investing in the platform to increase traffic and brand reach during the holidays. This season, retailers should consider leveraging the power of hashtag campaigns to incentivize Instagram users to share brand-relevant content on the channel. And now that tools like Hyperlapse are promoting the growth of macro-video, Instagram is a fantastic platform for brands to harness social video’s power and use video in campaigns, contests, and social incentives.
Tap into user-generated content: More than three-fourths of the marketers we surveyed reported that they would increase their usage of user-generated content as a marketing tactic this year. Collecting social content from fans and followers has proven to be an effective tactic for spreading word of mouth about products — in fact, it’s 20% more influential than any other type of media. Marketers can take advantage of this trend by curating consumer photos, videos, and reviews and sharing them across social channels and their website.
The holidays present a colossal opportunity for social media to deliver strong ROI and close out the year with strong sales. Holiday marketing efforts should include an investment in the power of social media to increase commerce and strengthen brand reach.
The data gathered from the holiday marketing survey is summarized in this infographic.
Mairead Ridge is senior manager of marketing at Offerpop, where she leads the content and creative team.