Social Sites Drive Holiday Traffic

18 percent of product searches begin on social sites, report says.

by staff writer
- Oct 28, 2009

Sellers who are tweeting and adding friends to their Facebook accounts will likely do better this holiday season than those who eschew social sites, according to a new study.

The study by marketing agency Oneupweb, finds that social sites will be a major factor in generating traffic to online stores this holiday season—and they're already affecting how shoppers go to shops. While in the past brand recognition was the key, today, sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are giving shoppers a way to socialize and tell friends about the bargains they find.

The Nielsen Company notes that 18 percent of searches begin on social sites, according to the Oneupweb report. That's because 50 percent of social-networking users post links to other sites and 25 percent link to a company, product or service, generating traffic for businesses. One in every five tweets also mentions a brand or service.

"Consumer behavior has changed, permanently," says Lisa Wehr, Oneupweb's founder and CEO. "Budget-conscious shoppers are now looking online to conduct their shopping, and they're searching for product information on social media networks."

As evidence of the trend, Facebook fan pages are taking off, as well. Facebook reports the site hosts 1.4 million business pages, each with an average of 100 fans. About 10 million people become fans every day, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg reports.

"Over the past two years, we've seen this increasing uptick in businesses realizing that their customers are on Facebook," adds Tim Kendall, Facebook's director of monetization product marketing. "If they can create a presence in Facebook that allows customers to connect with them, it can be a way to strengthen that connection and also find new customers."

Time spent on Facebook has tripled since August 2008, Oneupweb notes. And users are sharing ads with each other online. In fact, Facebook contributes more than 3 percent of all the traffic to top retail sites such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Sears.

More than 47 percent of online retailers will use social media more this holiday season

Businesses take note

Businesses have realized the power of social sites and are investing more in them as a result, reports the National Retail Federation. It notes that more than 47 percent of online retailers polled said they will use social media more this holiday season to attract buyers. More than 60 percent said they improved their Facebook pages and 59 percent bettered their Twitter pages in preparation. About 66 percent added or enhanced their blogs and RSS feeds.

CheapTweet, a Twitter-based search engine, has seen tremendous growth since it launched a week before Cyber Monday 2008.

"The response we saw through participation, excitement and the quality and variety of deals was overwhelmingly positive," notes Hayes Davis, the company's founder. "With our extensive growth over the past year and the ongoing consumer trends in e-commerce and social media, we expect our retail partners will see strong results from the efforts they are making with CheapTweet and other social media initiatives that help them connect directly with their consumers."

It makes sense that social sites are affecting the way people shop, Facebook's Kendall notes.

"We are naturally well-positioned to create a lot of value for local businesses," he tells reporters. "When you think about how you learn in the offline world about local businesses and services, which cafe, which dentist, you learn a lot of that from the people you trust and are friends with. Facebook is able to streamline that process a bit."

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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