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In a recent blog post, we explored how consumers’ social media behavior has changed during the pandemic. While under lockdown and working remotely, people in North America and the UK are consuming social media a lot more than they were before the pandemic (no surprise there!). 

But what about shopping behaviors? As brick-and-mortar stores around the world have either temporarily closed, are limiting capacity, or completely shut down, have consumer shopping behaviors changed? The answer is yes. 

In July 2020, Influenster conducted a survey with a total of 7,738 women in North America (NA) and the United Kingdom (UK) to better understand how consumers are using social media today and how shopping behaviors have changed since the pandemic started. Here’s what they found out.

Customers are shopping while they’re scrolling

63% of respondents in the UK and 54% of respondents in NA said that they would shop via social media before the pandemic. 

In North America and the UK today, social media is the most common channel to get information about a brand and its products, followed by the brand’s website and then email. And, about 72% of UK and 74% of NA respondents said that they visit a brand’s social media page before making a purchase.

But, this doesn’t mean that social media should be the sole focus of your digital strategy. Search engine optimization (SEO) is important too. 81% of respondents in the UK and 79% of respondents in NA said they always or sometimes start their shopping process with search engines like Google or Bing

Of the respondents who prefer to shop on social media, 84% in NA and 92% in the UK said they shop from Instagram. The second most popular platform in both regions was Facebook. But all of your platforms have the power to influence a customer to purchase. 

62% of people in NA and 66% in the UK agree or strongly agree that a brand’s social media presence influences their decision to purchase.

Want to optimize your social media channels for shopping? Connect with us here.

The power of influencers 

How much do influencers actually influence your customers? Well, 69% of NA respondents and 76% of UK respondents agree or strongly agree that “reviews from social media influencers impact their decision to consider a brand.” And 70% of NA and 74% of UK respondents agreed that “reviews from social media influencers impact their purchase decisions.”

When finding influencers for your brand to partner with, you may have your sights set on those with 100k+ followers. But, the Influenster study found that consumers are actually just as willing to shop links from nano-influencers (those with 1K-10K followers). 

Of the UK respondents who prefer shopping from social media influencers, 38% of respondents shop from links provided by nano influencers, 37% said micro-influencers (10k-100k followers), 30% said known experts, 28% said mega influencers (500K-1MM followers), and 27% said macro-influencers (100K-500K followers). 

And while 40% of NA respondents do prefer shopping from links provided by known experts, nano-influencers aren’t far behind at 37%. About 34% of respondents said they prefer to shop from micro-influencers, and 22% said macro-influencers. 

But, even more impactful than influencers are recommendations from friends and family. 76% of UK and 73% of NA respondents agree or strongly agree that social media posts from their friends and family advocating a brand or product influence their decision to consider a brand. 

And for actually making the purchase? 73% of UK respondents and 70% of NA respondents agree that social media posts from friends and family advocating a brand or product influence purchase decisions.

How customers want to engage with you 

In both regions, the most popular way for consumers to engage with brands on social media before the pandemic was by simply following them. The second and third most popular ways were via influencer recommended/shared information about a brand or product and by searching a brand on social media respectively. 

And during the pandemic, those rankings haven’t changed for either region. 

Both groups also said that the quality of social media content and strong visual and video content are the top two reasons for engaging with a brand on social media, which is why you can’t let your social media strategy lapse during these times. Your digital content is all a consumer has to go off of when considering a purchase during the pandemic. 

Using a combination of strong visuals, videos, influencer content, and reviews from other shoppers, you can help consumers feel confident when purchasing with you during the pandemic. 

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