In a recent study, researchers set out to uncover how online retailers are embracing brand personalization by incorporating social communication into their overall e-commerce marketing strategy. Researchers evaluated the product pages of the top 1,000 e-commerce brands to see how many retail marketing sites are using social sharing buttons and which buttons are used most often.
The study found that social sharing buttons are more popular on e-commerce marketing sites than are social plug-ins. Facebook’s ‘Like’ button is the most popular social communication button, followed by Twitter’s ‘Follow’. Pinterest’s ‘Pin-it’ button is the fastest-growing, popping up in online retail marketing pages almost overnight. Google+ is also growing in popularity, but still lagging behind Facebook’s ‘Share’ button.
What this study really provided researchers was insight into the evolution of the social media plug-in. These top e-commerce businesses are now opting to use only a select few of the larger social communication platforms when marketing their business, rather than using aggregating services that allow the user to choose which sites to share. These retailers are betting on the success of a top few social networks. Take, for example, the quick rise of Pinterest and Google +; these two new social sharing buttons have already overstepped the positions of older buttons like Tumblr and Digg. Overall, this shows an increase of confidence and brand awareness when it comes to retail marketing. E-commerce sites are taking some control over where customers share and communicate.
Unfortunately, not everyone in e-commerce marketing is using these social communication tools to their full capacity. The study found that of the 50 million product pages that utilize a Facebook Like button, only a dismal 1.8 million have one or more Likes. Additionally, there is not much consistency in terms of how the buttons are implemented. Some retail marketing sites use the Like button simply to lead consumers to the company’s Facebook profile, rather than encouraging them to Like the actual product. Twitter is resulting in the same issues, with consumers tweeting or following a general account, rather than a specified product or category. Google+ has had more success, mainly because Google has provided marketers with more guidance on how to implement a Google+ plug-in.
Another troubling finding is that most e-commerce brands are not effectively using social sharing buttons to drive data from the interactions. Online retailers already have most of the data needed to personalize their consumers’ experience through current Facebook integration. According to study, social signals are a better indicator of product popularity than links. The research found there is usually a parity between the number of Facebook Likes for a product online and the number of times the product’s barcode has been scanned offline. Facebook’s API capabilities are being underused and passed by. Unfortunately, Facebook has not yet made it obvious to those in retail marketing.
To recap, if you are in e-commerce marketing, double check your social sharing settings to see if they are being used effectively. If you want more information, you can check out Facebook’s API Program.
We want to hear from you. What buttons to you use?