By adaptive - December 4th, 2013

Social media appears to be increasingly driving conversion, but more time is needed to nurture these relationships to fully realise their commercial opportunities

The news headlines that ASDA became somewhat of a battleground during Black Friday last week may have given the impression that consumers had been connecting with each other about the bargains that could be had, but research by IBM tells a very different story.

In the US Black Friday is well established, but according to IBM’s study just 1% of purchases made on that day were driven by social media. IBM back- tracked the purchase route that consumers took. If they visited a social media site prior to the e-commerce site they subsequently purchases from, they were counted as having that sale directly influenced by the social media site.

Also, IBM calculated the value of the transactions indirectly influenced by Facebook and Pinterest. The former resulted in an average order value of $52.10, with the later almost double at $92.51. Many have pointed to the commercial power that Pinterest now wealds within the consumer-curated market.

Jay Henderson, strategy director at IBM Smarter Commerce, told Mashable: "Social doesn't have the ability so far to drive traffic or sales directly to the site," he says. "It tends to have more of an indirect influence on purchases."

Black Friday Sales

IBM released the following trend data:

Mobile Shopping Soars

Mobile traffic grew to 39.7% of all online traffic, an increase of 34% over Black Friday 2012. Mobile sales were also strong, reaching 21.8% of total online sales, an increase of nearly 43% year-over-year.    


Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy

Smartphones drove 24.9% of all online traffic on Black Friday compared to tablets at 14.2%, making it the browsing device of choice. Tablets drove 14.4% of all online sales, double that of smartphones, which accounted for 7.2% of all online sales. On average, tablet users spent $132.75 per order compared to smartphone users who spent $115.63, a difference of 15%.


iOS vs. Android

On average, iOS users spent $127.92 per order on Black Friday compared to $105.20 per order for Android users. iOS traffic reached 28.2% of all online traffic, compared to 11.4% for Android. iOS sales reached 18.1% of all online sales, compared to 3.5% for Android. 


Retailers “Push” Promotions to Mobile Shoppers

On average, retailers sent 37% more push notifications – the alert messages and popup notifications from apps installed on your mobile device – during the two day period over Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday when compared to daily averages over the past two months. Average daily retail app installations also grew by 23% using the same comparison. Retailers sent more notifications on Thanksgiving Day than Black Friday.


The Social Influence – Facebook vs. Pinterest

On average, holiday shoppers referred from Pinterest on Black Friday spent 77% more per order than shoppers referred from Facebook. Facebook average order value was $52.30 versus Pinterest average order value, which was $92.51. However, Facebook referrals converted sales at nearly four times the rate of Pinterest.


“We’re off to an incredibly fast start this holiday season as retailers and consumers meet at the intersection of cloud, mobile and social platforms to both offer and take advantage of the best deals,” said IBM’s Henderson. “It’s clear that marketers are using cloud analytics technologies like the IBM Benchmark to better understand and act on real-time shopping trends. This year’s winners will be those that can deliver seamless experiences to consumers wherever, whenever and however they choose to shop.”

For brand owners it’s clear that social media has an impact, but this is nascent at the moment. Social media platforms like Pinterest are clearly a vital component of any corporation’s marketing strategy. A brute force attack on these networks is though, ill advised.

What IBM has shown is that personal curation of content has a commercial value that needs nurturing. What is certain is that next year, social media will have a direct impact on sales across all market sectors. Brands need to be ready to ensure these networks are fully supported to see their share of what could be massive levels of conversions.


IBM Benchmark - Black Friday Sales

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