October 24, 2013, 11:34 AM

55% of Twitter users plan to discuss gift ideas on the social network

The number of retailers on Twitter has nearly doubled in the past year.

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Twitter Inc. plays a key role in many of its users’ holiday shopping, suggests a new survey conducted by research firm Dogsbollocks5 and commissioned by the social network.

55% of Twitter users say they plan to discuss gift ideas on Twitter, according to the online survey of 2,000 U.S. holiday shoppers, 65% of whom use Twitter several times a week. Dogsbollocks5 conducted the survey in September.

Twitter helps shoppers discover new products and research particular items, the survey suggests. 67% of respondents say they have discovered new products via Twitter and 64% have bought a product because of something they saw on Twitter.

To promote their products to Twitter users, several retailers integrate the platform into their marketing efforts. For instance, Sephora USA Inc., No. 144 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, last year developed a broadly focused marketing campaign (More on the campaign: http://www.internetretailer.com/2012/12/20/retailers-move-social-media-out-its-silo) centered around the concept of eight “extraordinary” women, then adapted the messaging and approach to fit Twitter and several other social networks. Sephora linked those messages together by creating the hashtags #YourExtraordinary, #GiftExtraordinary and #MakeItExtraordinary that it added to its posts.  Adding a hashtag—any word that starts with a pound sign—to a post enables consumers to click on the hashtag to find related posts.  

Such marketing campaigns may pay off, the survey indicates. 57% of respondents says Twitter posts influence which merchants they buy from.

And the number of retailers on Twitter continues to rise. Since September 2012, the number of retailers on Twitter has grown 90%, the social network says. It declines to share the actual number of merchants on the platform.

In other Twitter news, the social network has hired Google Inc. executive J.J. Hirschle as its director of retail. Hirschle is tasked with driving more retailers to use Twitter's ads products.

Hirschle had worked at Google since 2004, holding a variety of position over that span, including director of media and entertainment, head of Google Affiliate Network and head of retail industry, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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