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Social media has become integral to the shopping experience. From product discovery and purchase, to feedback and customer loyalty, social media is present at every stage of a buyer’s journey. We’ve finally reached the era where brands and retailers understand the need for having a social media manager – the latest shift in the social landscape is having social media managers who are prepared to help seal the deal for buyers and assist them in buying. 

To better understand how consumers are using social media when shopping and what they expect out of who they’re buying from, we surveyed over 5,500 global consumers for our 2020 Shopper Experience Index and analyzed data from our network of over 6,200 brand and retail websites. Here is what we found: 

Shoppers are discovering brands and products on social media

By far the most common way consumers discover products and brands on social media is through influencer marketing. However, influencers are becoming less and less of a trusted source, considering only 28% of shoppers globally trust influencer recommendations. While a majority of shoppers may not fully trust influencers, this marketing strategy isn’t going away and, instead, is shifting to appeal to consumers’ desire for more authenticity. 

We’ve seen shoppers turn from celebrities and super influencers to micro-influencers, who have smaller audiences. Shoppers see micro-influencers as more relatable, more genuine, and more authentic because these types of “influencers” could easily be someone they know, and they typically only sponsor products and brands that they truly use and enjoy. Brands need to partner with influencers who focus on a particular area of interest, have smaller, engaged followings, and genuinely love your product.

Consumers are also buying products on social media

Social media is no longer just a place for brands and retailers to show off their products – it’s a platform to sell them on as well. Across the globe, about 42% of shoppers say they have made a purchase on social media. As new technology such as Instagram’s shopping feature and TikTok’s “buy now” button become more widespread and adopted, people browsing on social media can be converted into shoppers in mere seconds. Asian social apps such as Pinduoduo are taking social commerce even further, with live stream shopping ability.

In other words, if a company hasn’t started to sell their products via their social media channels, they’re missing out on profit. Especially now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers are buying online in unprecedented numbers. In general, people are online more than ever, many browsing social media to pass the time. Meet your consumers where they already are. 

Customers want to interact with brands on social media

Unlike a brand’s website, their social media pages are not just places for customers to browse or buy their products, they’re also destinations for having a two-way conversation. From asking questions, to sharing concerns, to singing their praises, consumers want to talk to the brands from which they buy –  and they want to hear back. In fact, almost a third (29%) of consumers expect a brand to respond within the hour when they ask them a question through social media. A similar amount (27%) expect a response within a few hours, and 24% expect to hear back within 24 hours. 

Social media is becoming more and more part of a brand or retailer’s customer service strategy. While ratings and reviews are a popular feedback channel, modern-day shoppers are most likely to reach out to a brand with a question or concern on social media. Also, over a third of shoppers say they’ve complained about brands on social media. Brands and retailers need to stay on top of social activity involving their brand and its products, be prepared to answer social media posts quickly, and be willing to admit fault and take action. Our network and Influenster’s community data supports this perspective — while many shopper behaviors on the product page were more prevalent, the number of questions submitted by community members on the Influenster platform and the Q&A interaction rate on websites in our network have only slightly increased compared to the year prior. 

Shoppers want to see customers’ videos and photos used beyond social media

Shoppers don’t just want to see photos of their peers using products on a brand’s social media page or on an influencer’s account. They find it useful to see them at traditional points of purchase as well, and brands are taking action. In fact, the traditional product page on brands and retailers’ websites is shifting from a catalog of product descriptions and professional photos to a rich collection of user-generated content (UGC) and may eventually play a much smaller role in shopping. When browsing online, shoppers want to see products worn and used by people who look like them, in real-life scenarios, as opposed to a model in a professional photo shoot. Our clients have seen an 118% increase in revenue from customers who interact with social content on their product pages. 

At Bazaarvoice, we believe that retail is approaching a time where professional product information will be replaced by content and opinions from real consumers, or, at the very least, UGC will become the prominent way that products are presented to shoppers. We believe that brand-provided information will soon shift lower on the product page, to be replaced by what consumers really want to see: more reviews and visual content from real people just like themselves. Brands and retailers need to provide an ample amount of consumer photos for their prospective customers on their product pages. 

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These days, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t on social media. Offer your shoppers a quick, seamless shopping experience on social media, and you’ll create a customer for life. Be sure to interact with them as much as possible on these channels, and use the content they share in as many places as possible. To learn more about how, and where, consumers are shopping today, check out our Shopper Experience Index.

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