Social media pundits, gurus, consultants, whatever you want to call them, seem to think Twitter and Facebook invented being social. But, I'm here to tell them that mingling isn't anything new. And, it works very well offline, as well as online. Actually, I think if you're not mingling socially offline as much as you mingle socially online, you're missing out on a lot. That F2F (face-to-face) connection is far more powerful than any tidbit typed in 140 characters.
That said, I thought I'd share a report from One Up Web on how consumers are using the "social" in social media this year, for shopping. We're all about the marketing to women thing, so it behooves me to share this information, and...expect you to take it offline, socially, to your next networking event. Maybe even grab the report from the One Up Web site and read the whole thing, then report back on your opinion of it.
This 2009 Study of "the Social Life of Retail," looked "beyond the numbers and yo-yo market fluctuations of the past couple of years," so it says. Their goal was to figure out how people use social media to shop. For instance, do you check with Facebook friends before buying? Do you see a tweet and hop over to the link, to see if the sale mentioned is worth opening your wallet?
The report shows Facebook as the #3 trafficked site on the web with 95 million unique visitors per month. Twitter is #27. You know who's #1 (Google). This means...Facebook has 95 million unique visitors per month. <shrug>
Then, we learn that "...the integration of social media and online search fosters consumers' reliance on the ability to quickly search for information, reviews, and price comparisons." Ah, so if I'm on Facebook (and I am), I can use it to ask my followers their opinion about a product or service...and do a little personal research. (Do you do that? I don't. And I haven't actually seen anyone else do it, either... but I have a very small group of Friends, so...I can't be an authoritative voice here)
I do have personal experience related to shopping online (outside of the social media world, although I did tweet my displeasure with my experience): Yesterday I spent the better part of an hour trying to buy a fancy coffee maker online. I failed at Amazon (even after entering my username and password, Amazon did not know who I was). I failed at Overstock - they didn't carry the model I wanted; what's up with that? It was a Hamilton Beach, and attempts to buy it at their site failed, also!
The only thing that worked, yesterday, was... Google, which connected me to the many places that I visited to research price and reviews before choosing. And then, this is key, here's how I finally bought it...I used...
My phone. That's right. I finally called a local store, Lowes, let's give them credit, and asked if the pot was in stock (their website said it was), got a postive response within 2 minutes, and sent Tom out to buy said machine which was waiting at the desk for him.
Is my experience representative of other women? Of other shoppers, regardless of gender? You tell me. The report says, "Consumer behavior has changed in the last year due to the recession. But that doesn't mean that people aren't shopping or have stopped gift giving altogether - they have just become more creative." Indeed. Creative enough to visit places like their local antique shop, the local Target, the half-price bookstore three miles down the road - bricks and mortar stores that offer immediate gratification: AFTER they have researched online and are confident of finding what they want in the store they want. BTW, ordering online and picking up offline is the way to go, today.
Hence, the jingle, jingle...how we mingle headline of this post. We mingle online - using social media tools, then we visit comparison sites or Amazon, and then - we buy stuff at the store of our choosing when they not only offer it as an online item, but one we can pick up in the store. No shipping: yay!
This model is quick and satisfying because we can hold the item in our hands the same day we order it!
According to the One Up Web report, e-commerce is the answer to this year's holiday blues and social media is at the core. E-commerce has been strong and growing stronger for several years now. This year is no different. Online is competing with offline and the small business that caters to their local customers by enticing them online to come into the store - are the winners.
I ask you, does Facebook, Twitter or whatever social site you favor, influence your holiday shopping? If so, how? Where will you be shopping this year? Tell us where e-commerce fits in your holiday shopping plans. The women of Lip-sticking want to know.