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Retailers leverage consumers’ willingness to share.
The three TV networks used to be the way to reach the masses. But times have changed. Cable fragmented the TV audience and the Internet lured eyeballs away from TV sets. Today, the way to reach the masses is through social media, where 157.2 million U.S. consumers spent time on Facebook alone in May, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc. And that doesn’t even account for the millions who also spent time on YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Using social media consumers are telling their Facebook friends what products they Like, interacting with brands on Twitter and commenting on retailers’ videos on YouTube.
Retailers are recognizing the social revolution by tying social media into their sites. 83% of retailers in The E-Tailing Group Inc.’s 13th Annual Mystery Shopping Study provide links from their web sites to social media sites, up from 60% a year earlier, with Facebook garnering the largest number, or 96% of retailers with links to social sites, followed by Twitter, 87% and YouTube, 43%. Moreover, 36% of merchants in the study deploy the Facebook Like button. That was not measured in the prior year study as Facebook only made available in April 2010 the Like button link between e-retail sites and the social network.
Social media can offer a significant marketing platform because it enables consumers to directly interact with customers, says Chris McCann, president of 1-800-Flowers.com. The flowers and gifts e-retailer takes a multipronged approach to marketing on Facebook because it has a wide-ranging customer base that ranges from the stay-at-home mom who only sends flowers to friends and relatives, to the corporate shopper who sends gift baskets to clients, he says. For instance, one recent wall post on the retailer’s Facebook page posed a Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia question, while another noted that it was Administrative Professionals Week.
The same idea holds true for the retailer’s Facebook ad campaigns. 1-800-Flowers runs both Marketplace and Sponsored Stories campaigns that are targeted to different customer niches. The ads target consumers based on the information they provide Facebook, such as a consumer listing golf among his interests. Marketplace ads appear on one of four slots on the right side of a Facebook page under “People You May Know.” Sponsored Stories is an ad service that lets companies place their logos alongside content from consumer posts that mention the company. 1-800-Flowers focuses on social media, McCann says, because that’s where its shoppers congregate.
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