Social Media Primarily Attracting Loyal Customers
By Tom Ryan
A new study confirms that consumers are increasingly connecting
with their favorite online retailers through social media sites, particularly
Facebook. But most of those "friending" or "following" online retailers are
already loyal customers.
The study of nearly 10,000 visitors to the biggest
e-retail websites in the U.S. by ForeSee Results found that 69 percent of online
shoppers use social media sites. Of those active with social media, 56 percent
choose to proactively interact with companies on social sites by "friending"
or "following" at least one retailer. Broken down further, 61 percent of online
shoppers who interact with companies on social media sites "friend" or "follow"
fewer than five companies and nearly one-fifth of social media users interact
with 11 or more retailers on social sites.
Of those who "friend" or "follow"
companies, 49 percent use it to learn about special deals and options, 45 percent
to learn about products, and only five percent for customer support.
Facebook ranked as the dominant social media medium. Of those that used social
websites regularly, 81 percent said they use Facebook; 31 percent, YouTube;
22 percent, MySpace; and 16 percent, Twitter.
But in an "an unofficial look"
at the Facebook pages of the Top 100 online retailers (based on sales volume),
the study concluded that one-quarter do not have any formal Facebook presence
and another quarter have fewer than 10,000 fans.
In the report, Kevin Ertell,
vice president of retail strategy, ForeSee Results, wrote that the highest
levels of satisfaction with retailers’ own sites were found among shoppers
who interacted on the largest numbers of social media sites. Site visitors
who also interact with a company on a social media site are more satisfied,
more committed to the brand, and more likely to make future purchases from
that company. But Mr. Ertell noted this presents a challenge since these social
sites are predominantly reaching loyal customers.
"This is a bit of a chicken-and-egg
phenomenon," said Mr. Ertell. "It is likely that the customers who are more
satisfied and loyal to begin with are the ones who will friend us on Facebook
or subscribe to our YouTube channels. However, research shows that when retailers
provide rewarding social media experiences, our customers become even more
satisfied and loyal."
Questions: Should social media tools such as Facebook be predominantly seen
as a way to reinforce loyalty with existing customers? What’s
the opportunity around social media in reaching new customers?