We just talked about social shopping in our last class - using the example of both sharing and niched video sites like ShoeTube
What Is Social Shopping?
Many consumers are turning toward social networks like Facebook () and Twitter (), coupon aggregators like RetailMeNot and CouponCabin, and deal blogs like FatWallet or Dealfinder to find the best discounts and bargains – and they’re sharing these deals with friends, family, and the wider web. This social shopping behavior, in its nascent stages last year, is out in full force this holiday – which is why some 47% of online retailers plan to increase their use of social media this holiday season, according to the National Retail Foundation.
If you’re a retailer, you need to know what social shopping trends are taking hold, so you can incorporate them into your marketing efforts this holiday and beyond. And if you’re a consumer, well everyone loves a bargain, so read on for our list of five hot trends in social shopping!
1. Instantaneous Product Reviews
Nowadays, if you want to know how people feel about a product, service, or company, all you have to do is put the name in Twitter Search (), Twendz, or any other number of “real-time” search engines and you get an up-to-the-minute streaming snapshot of buyer sentiment. Where we once had to search and decipher reviews on product review sites or on specific retailers’ sites, now we simply watch as others do the hard work for us.
Further, when you do feel particularly strongly about certain products, whether positive or negative, you have the ability, through social media, to contribute your own opinions to a wide audience. With Twitter and Facebook, you can push personal reviews out into whatever online channel you choose, sharing immediate opinions with not only your direct connections, but a much larger, interconnected network as well.
2. Real-Time Deals
Twitter skeptics are always quick to ask “what’s the point of Twitter anyway?” Well, the exclusive deals and discounts tweeted every day would be reason enough for most to give Twitter a try. Accounts like @woot, @bingcashback, @slickdeals, @fatwallet, and more offer real-time deals on products that are actually on people’s wish lists. Each of these services has thousands of followers, who find out about instant deals, coupons, and discounts on a wide range of products. Some of the promotions are only for Twitter followers, so you can’t get them elsewhere, and most are short in duration. Seeing “limited-time” offers used to mean you had days, or even weeks, to take advantage of a good deal. With Twitter, many of the deals shared work only for an hour or so.
3. Group Gifting
It’s an old practice – updated and made easier thanks to social media. You want to get a quality gift for someone, but your tight budget makes it impossible. Thanks to some new social shopping services, you can join monetary forces with your friends and turn your individually-meager finances into a collectively excellent gift.
Smaller sites like Lolligift have made this concept their bread and butter, and larger retailers are starting to take notice. Best Buy recently instituted a “Pitch In” program, where shoppers can register online for gifts they want, and send a notice to friends and relatives via e-mail or social networking sites like Facebook. Gift-givers can then sign up for the program online and pay for a portion of the listed items.
4. Being “Fashion Forward” Is Now A Lot Easier
Social Media can also help guide us in those purchase-making decisions that are not necessarily based on money or convenience, but rather on fashion and style. Instead of waiting each month for a new issue of W to arrive in the mail, you can get instant, daily fashion counsel on Twitter from @Coutorture or @highsnobiety, or via a number of other Twitter feeds dedicated solely to style trends and tips. Or learn how to affordably emulate your favorite star’s fashion-forward sense with advice from Rachel Zoe’s Facebook Page. Sign up to follow some of these fashonistas, who also sometimes offer special promotions via their feeds.
For true fashion addicts, social sites have emerged such as Shopflick and Us Trendy. These channels foster online shopping communities, where shoppers share thoughts, photos, and videos regarding the latest fashions and designers – and fashion experts and brands connect with and help trend-hungry consumers.
On the more exclusive side of online fashion are sites such as Rue La La and Gilt. These sample sales sites are invitation only, so in order to join the community you must be invited by an existing member. Once a member, you have access to the latest sales and offers for some of the most haute brands in the industry.
5. Pass on the Gift
Consumers shop to give, especially around the holidays. While gift-giving in someone’s honor is not new, social media helps charitable organizations increase these efforts by allowing givers and receivers to share their genuine thoughts in a variety of social channels.
Organizations active in social media, such as the grassroots volunteer group Heifer Portland, use the space to promote their cause giving through channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Posterous (). People are notified that a cow, llama, sheep, or other gift has been donated in their honor and can then share their appreciation via Tweet or Facebook post. It’s easy to learn about the bees someone just bought for their dad, or the goat that they want under their Christmas tree, or the chickens that were gifted to a family on someone’s behalf.
Not only is more awareness generated for the cause, you also know that something good has been done in your name.