Where Are Your Customers in Social Media?

Organic reach has become the bane of many social media marketers.
Staying up to date with Facebook’s algorithm changes is rapidly becoming a full-time job, and gettingrobs your brand message into your fans’ News Feeds without paying for it is specialist work.
This can become even more apparent in the retail sector, where a brand’s social media presence is not just about brand building and engagement, but also about actually driving customers to purchase products.
It’s a fine balance to strike, but a recent survey conducted in January 2015 in the UK offers some insight into consumer preferences.[br][br]

Facebook is Maturing

The demographic profile of Facebook is changing.
According to eMarketer, the age group that will show the biggest increase in the share of Facebook users in the coming year is 65+ year-olds.
The baby boomers are finally realizing that they can keep in touch with their children and grandchildren via social media, and that it is not as technically out of reach as they had perhaps once thought.
However, the other major age groups are set to remain pretty static, supporting the findings of the UK survey. A key point in the research is that the 25 – 34 year-olds, the biggest slice of the Facebook pie, really want to see retailer promotions in their social news feeds, particularly on Facebook.
This is good news for Facebook as it is the 25+ age group who are the ones willing to spend the most money on ads. It’s also good news for retailers as the same age group is the one most likely to make a purchase via a promotion on a Facebook page.
In the past, brands have invested a lot of time and effort on their Facebook pages, and with solid results. As we know, the recent string of algorithm changes threaten to nullify those efforts unless companies are willing to fork out for ads. Promotions, however, offer a way to maximize the social ROI by showcasing products, offering discount, directing visitors to brand websites, and offering rewards for customer engagement and, ultimately, purchases.[br][br]

Millennials Are Using Their Own Channels

For the younger, 18 – 24 year-old demographic, Facebook is losing its appeal as they move on to other channels not populated by their parents, and increasingly, grandparents. The vast majority of these young adults still have a Facebook account, but they are less and less likely to use it.
The same is true of an even younger demographic, the 12 – 18 year-olds, who have taken to channels such as Instagram and Snapchat in their droves.[br][br]

So Where Are The 18 – 25 Year-Olds?

This millennial age group has an increasingly strong presence on Twitter. The UK survey revealed that 18 – 25 year-olds want to hear about retail promotions and offers specifically in their Twitter feeds.
This is backed up by separate research conducted by University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research who found that as many as 85% of US Millennials follow a brand or company on Twitter to get a coupon or discount. However, as with Facebook, they are not the biggest spenders.
The UK survey found that 29% of consumers follow their favorite retailers on social channels simply because their updates were interesting or funny, whereas, 33% follow only for offers. This offers compelling evidence for a balanced approach to content marketing where interesting content alongside offers and promotions is key to retail success on social media, particularly with younger demographics.[br][br]

Promotions in Social Media Drive Sales

One interesting finding of the survey is that many consumers will only make purchases when a promotion is available.
This is very important information for retailers to consider in their social media marketing activities. Simply trying to gain followers and fans on social media is being replaced by more concerted efforts to use social media to convert sales. According to the 2014 Internet Retailer Social Media 500 Guide, referral traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube increased 41.8 percent from 2013, driving 51.5 million unique monthly website visitors. The use of promotions in social media will undoubtedly drive this referral rate even more.[br][br]

Savvy Marketers Will Lead The Way

Social media channels are undoubtedly critical in creating engagement, and they increasingly drive sales, but marketers would be well advised to maintain an even spread in their digital marketing activities.
Research has shown that promotions have a real effect on the behavior of consumers on both sides of the pond. It is the savvy retailers and social media marketers who will be the ones to reap the benefits of this knowledge.
Read more about how to reach your customers with promotions in social media.

Rob Brooks works as a Content Producer for RapidCampaign, a Finnish startup that enables retailers to create engaging online promotions that improve conversion rates. When Rob is not writing blog posts and producing content, he is out running half-marathons in the Finnish countryside. You can also contact him @RapidCampaign.

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