May 27, 2011, 11:50 AM

The gathering strength of social commerce

A report finds that consumers are ready and willing to shop via Facebook and Twitter.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

The best way to market to the masses was through television. Then cable fragmented the TV audience, and then the Internet lured eyeballs away from TV sets. Now social media stands as one of the few places to reach a wide swath of consumers. That new marketing reality runs through the “2011 Social Commerce Study” released today by, the online retail division of the National Retail Federation, consultancy Social Shopping Labs and web measurement firm comScore Inc.

The report finds that 77% of online adults use social networks and 54% of those consumers have followed a retailer on Facebook, Twitter or a retailer’s blog. The average consumer that has followed a retailer online tracks 6.3 of them. According to the report, consumers follow brands to find discounts (58%), learn about products (49%), read customer reviews (34%) and share information with other customers (30%). and comScore based the findings on a survey of 1,700 U.S. consumers conducted via e-mail in April.

While many retailers use social media to build their brands, the report suggests merchants can do more to generate sales directly from social networks. 56% of Facebook users say they have clicked through to a retailer’s web site because of a Facebook post, while 67% of Twitter users say a post has spurred them to click through to a web site. Moreover, 35% of shoppers say they would be likely to make a purchase directly from Facebook and 32% say they would do the same via Twitter.

Mobile also is transforming consumers’ social experiences. “Mobile is a driver of social frequency—as smartphone usage grows, consumers increase the frequency with which they use social media,” says the report. The survey results support that idea. 42%of Twitter users access the site on their mobile phone at least once a day, while the same is true for 34% of Facebook users. 32% of consumers view YouTube clips daily from their smartphones.

“Instead of waiting to get back on their desktop computer to watch videos or interact online, Americans are easily accessing social networks when they have even a few moments of down time, whether they’re scanning Facebook news feeds while picking up their kids from school or tweeting about their shopping experience while browsing the mall,” says Fiona Swerdlow, head of research at “The popularity of mobile devices will only boost the power of social commerce, which presents an incredible opportunity for retailers.”

Comments | 2 Responses

  • I find Twitter a high click rate than facebook. Facebook relies on large friend base and also on PPC which when I tried it out it failed. Twitter I have 100 more clicks a month (not alot you may say) but from 5 tweets thats a lot. regards Cocoonfxmedia

  • I think shopping on Facebook will start to increase when the user experience really starts to leverage the unique data and experience of Facebook. Just putting a shop tab that links back to a brands ecommerce store, or even putting an end-to-end store up on Facebook will have limited success in 2011. What will help transform this is models that encourage their customers to become affiliates or super affiliates (in the case of celebrities), and have them involved in the value chain. Social Commerce has to become more social and fun, and that is way beyond just re-purposing your catalog into another channel. At least that is what we believe over here @dotbox

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