It’s no secret that people are making more purchases, and purchase decisions, online. Consumer purchase behaviour is undergoing a dramatic shift that is getting more pronounced every day, and unprepared retailers are seeing declines as a result.
Over the course of the last week or so, there have been several revealing statistics released to support that consumers are not only spending more time shopping online, but that brick and mortar shopping behaviour is being influenced by digital interactions, which of course includes social media.
These changes are even more apparent coming out of Black Friday, which is typically the United States’ biggest shopping day, with consumers flocking to stores hunting, and in some cases fighting, to get a great deal in preparation for the holidays.
Defying the trend toward online shopping in recent years, Black Friday has managed to sustain steady growth, until now.
This year, brick and mortar retail shopping on Black Friday was down for the first time since 2009. Bloomberg reported the decline to be 3.9 percent, which seems marginal, but considering that tens of billions of dollars are spent on this crazy shopping day, is actually quite significant.
Brick and mortar shopping is down, while shopping online is up… way up
It’s no major revelation to learn that while brick and mortar retail shopping has decreased, online shopping has largely filled the void.
But, the dramatic truth of this is how sharply favour has shifted to shopping online. A recent Nielsen study revealed that nearly half of consumers – 46 percent – stated that they intended to shop online on Cyber Monday this year instead of facing the crowds on Black Friday. Now for the dramatic piece of information; that’s a 16-point increase from 2012, just one year ago, when that number was 30 percent.
You don’t need to be a statistician to see how dramatic of a shift that is.
Digital interactions are even affecting consumer behaviour when brick and mortar shopping
Digital interactions aren’t just causing consumers to make more purchases online, they’re actually affecting the way that consumers shop when they visit brick and mortar retailers. It’s worth noting here as well that social media is playing an increasingly important role in shaping even non-social experiences online, which makes it doubly important.
Around the world, shoppers are making fewer shopping trips, and when they do shop, they’re making a smaller number of purchases.
They’re visiting stores prepared, armed with the information they need to make a purchase with a very specific product in mind. The days of impulse buying might not be behind us, but that behaviour is certainly waning.
The auto industry is a prime example of this. Adweek recently reported that where car buyers used to visit 7 dealers to make a purchase decision, today they visit an average of 1.2.
That’s targeted and informed shopping, which is reminiscent of the trends observed this Black Friday. The idea of ‘shopping around’ when it comes to automobiles is virtually nonexistent, and this behaviour likely isn’t isolated to this category.
Where there is change, there is opportunity
This, of course, isn’t all doom and gloom. Not even close. In fact, these trends are hugely positive for those who are openly embracing the power of digital media channels be they owned or paid.
As you’ve undoubtedly observed, and this article has hopefully illustrated, it is no secret that consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions online. They’re researching competitive products on brand websites and comparing prices with apps like Amazon’s Price Check.
They’re also turning to social media to ask questions, discuss products and brands with their social graphs, gain unbiased perspectives, and weigh pros and cons of ownership.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to embrace digital and social media
If you haven’t already embraced the power of digital and social media for your business, now is the time to wake up and come to terms with the fact that consumer behaviour has long since shifted.
These aren’t flash-in-the-pan trends we’re observing. After all, we’re talking about the Internet and social media, which clearly aren’t going anywhere. Also, the explosive and exponential penetration of smartphones is giving consumers constant connection to both, so the influential interactions they’re having online, are also happening at shelves in physical stores.
The proof of shifting consumer purchase behaviour from this Black Friday and Cyber Monday I believe to be precursors to even more dramatic change moving forward.
Where there are rules, there are certainly always exceptions, but I believe the reality for many businesses is that if they don’t have a strong presence online and on social media, it’s not going to be long until they won’t have a presence at all.
Are you braving the crowds to do your shopping for the holidays?
Or, are you doing the bulk of your shopping online?
Are there certain categories of products that you prefer to buy in-store versus online?
It would be great to chat with you about your thoughts on this subject, and learn a little bit about your own shopping behaviour in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Every day there are businesses and brands producing and publishing amazing content, and tightly integrating traditional media with their digital and social programs.
It wasn’t long ago that I was writing about Ikea’s awesome 2014 augmented reality print catalogue, and Ikea has knocked it out of the park again with their second-hand furniture campaign.
What they did
For the eight-week program, Ikea shared their media space with customers looking to sell their old furniture.
Ads were created for chosen participants’ used furniture. These ads featured professional photography, descriptions, prices, and contact information for the individual selling each piece. Then, they were run on a number of media channels including print, television, OOH, and digital.
Finally, Ikea Norway’s Facebook Page was turned over to their audience to serve as a digital flea market where these ads dominated their Timeline.
Check out AdAge for a more detailed description of the program and video that concisely summarizes Ikea’s activity.
Why it’s killer
What makes this campaign so amazing is that numerous lessons from social media and content marketing are applied seamlessly in Ikea’s integrated campaign.
Executing this campaign meant engaging and interacting with Ikea’s audience, the provision of huge value – not just for the sellers, but for buyers as well, and focusing not on selling product, but proving a brand promise.
It’s exciting when brands take a leap like this and do something that doesn’t immediately and obviously connect with sales. How does selling used furniture boost Ikea’s bottom line? It’s not so obvious, right?
But it does. It proves that Ikea loves furniture and that they are the go-to experts on, and providers of, cost-effective furnishing solutions. Whether it’s their product, or their consumers’ second-hand product, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day Ikea has created a memorable experience for everyone touched by this campaign, which will build affinity, loyalty, trust, awareness, and ultimately, sales.
What can be applied to your business?
Personalize your mass media communications
Customization and personalized messaging are not relegated to being social media marketing tactics. Find ways to build contextual relevance in your mass media communications to truly gain your audience’s attention, versus blasting a forgettable message and hoping just enough will stick to affect your bottom line.
Shift focus from your business to your consumers
Whether you are creating social media content, or mass media communications, stay sharply focused on your consumers and what will add value to them versus what you want to say. Your consumers will appreciate you putting them first, and if you’re truly adding value, they’ll actually pay attention to what you have to say.
Create communication ecosystems
When planning social media, content marketing, above the line advertising, below the line advertising, or anything in between, consider how every touch-point can work together to enhance the experience your targeted audience has with your brand. Every time your audience has an experience with your brand it should build off the last to amplify the effect of each individual component. Keep adding value, and keep wowing your audience, and you’ll win consumers.
Get creative and take a risk
I can’t imagine this campaign was easy to pull off. Selling this through Ikea’s hierarchy to buy into this program would have taken guts. It would have been easy to kill this in favour of a more traditional campaign pushing Ikeas newest wares, but they didn’t. They took a risk and it yielded an amazingly creative campaign that has people paying attention. You will never achieve great things by doing what everyone else is doing. Take a risk.
What do you think of Ikea’s Second-Hand Furniture campaign?
What risks have you taken recently that have paid off?
Have you seen any killer content recently that you’d like to share?
It would be great to chat with you about your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
If you’re like me, you spend a solid amount of time reading.
Educating yourself about your business. Industry trends. New thinking. Old thinking. Learning about what the competition is up to. Listening to your consumers. And much, much more.
I’d be willing to bet that you’re not the only one in your organization doing this either.
Now imagine if you could have access to all of the best information, articles, whitepapers, reports, and resources that your coworkers are paying attention to.
Also imagine if they had access to everything you were checking out online.
You would all be better for it, right?
You’d all have access to the most interesting, thought-provoking thinking available, and be smarter and more knowledgeable as a result.
This might even save you a bit of time. Having a collective contributing to the curation of the best, most relevant content means that each individual isn’t left to their own devices (and lunch breaks) to do it themselves.
Let’s get into it. Here’s how you can use Twitter to enhance your organization’s collective intelligence.
Getting set up
First, you’re going to need a Twitter account (obviously).
Set up an account as you typically would, but I recommend adjusting your privacy settings to protect your tweets so that your competition won’t be able to benefit from your organization’s internal feed.
Organize curation, contribution and support
Volunteer to be the lead curator, responsible for collecting content and publishing it for everyone’s benefit.
Promote that you are doing this to your organization so they know how to experience the benefits and get involved by contributing their best finds.
Gain the support of senior leadership to really give this initiative a shot in the arm. Having the support of your leadership team will help this plan to really take off, and to gain the attention it deserves from the rest of your organization.
Establish a hashtag
Choose a relatively obscure, or very specific hashtag and have all participants use it so that you can easily find the content they think is relevant to the rest of your organization.
You don’t want to choose anything that is likely to be used by other Twitter users because it will taint your search results. You’ll be happy if your search results only yield your coworkers’ content and you don’t need to syphon through other conversations happening on Twitter to find what your coworkers tweets.
Search and retweet
Set up a search stream in HootSuite for your hashtag and retweet everything your coworkers are tweeting using that hashtag.
Soak up the goodness
And that’s it… contribute when you come across something valuable, and enjoy the flow of interesting content from your coworkers.
BONUS – Newsletters
If you have any interest in really going above and beyond with your Twitter content curation project, consider creating and distributing simple monthly newsletters featuring links to what you deem to be the most interesting pieces of content for anyone that may have missed it in their feed. I’m sure there will be more than just a few individuals that find this to be helpful if you’re up to it.
How do you share information internally in your organization?
Is that information collected anywhere for future reference?
As always, it would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
When measuring the performance and overall strength of your business, your books are only going to reveal a portion of the story.
Social media can help to fill in gaps of information other more traditional methods of business evaluation cannot provide.
Through social listening, reading reviews and comments, and paying attention to competitive communities you can learn what you’re doing well, what needs improving, and gain a stronger understanding of what you can do to enhance the performance of your business.
The relative openness of platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress, give you numerous places around the social web to listen in on what people are saying about your business or brand. Even Facebook’s Graph Search has made the world’s most popular social network a place where social listening is possible outside the bounds of your own community.
Reviews are not only critical to driving sales for your business, but can be a great source of information and insight about the performance of your business. Glowing reviews can verify the things you are doing particularly well and give you ideas about how you can provide those experiences to more consumers. Negative reviews can reveal opportunities for improvement, areas of your business that are fundamentally flawed, give you ideas for future product development, and more.
Comments and discussion
For some time, branded social media channels have been a favourite place for consumers to express their delight with businesses, as well as tear a strip off them when they have negative experiences. While many of us are becoming pretty good at responding to these comments on social media, there is opportunity to apply what we learn in the comments on our social media channels to influence business practices. By tracking compliments and complaints, we can see trends occurring and apply what is learned to other inputs that influence our business strategy, product development, customer service, or really anything to do with our businesses.
Competitive and related communities
Discussions about your business and brand aren’t going to be contained within your communities. Competitive and consumer driven communities should be monitored on a regular basis, not only for your competitive reviews and analysis, but also to gain as broad and comprehensive an understanding as possible about the performance of your business.
Social media channels can be a great indicator for the various strengths and weaknesses of your business, but you obviously need to be paying attention for it to matter. To ensure you’re sufficiently keeping your ear to the ground, consider adding social listening KPIs to your regular analytic reports. This will help to keep you honest about paying attention to what consumers think about your business, and will ensure that what you uncover is easily shared with others in your organization.
How do you use social media to measure the success of your business or brand?
Have you ever adjusted your business strategy, product or service because of what you’ve heard from your customers on social media?
It would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
For some businesses on social media, being proactively social can be fraught with organizational challenges.
In more traditional communication channels, business and brand messages are virtually always meticulously thought through.
When it comes to interacting and engaging with your audience on social media, this ability to be meticulous disappears to some extent. In most cases, you need to be fluid in your approach to interactions, jumping into conversations in real time, and responding to your consumers in short order.
There simply isn’t time to sweat every detail.
This makes some marketers uneasy.
What if something isn’t conveyed correctly? How will I know what’s going on in the social space? What is the legal department going to think about speaking to consumers without their blessing on what’s being said?
These are just a few of the realities that need to be faced when becoming increasingly social on social media, but like any barriers, they can be overcome;
Plan an approach
Planning your approach to being social is key. Set some ground rules, think of every possible disaster scenario and have a plan for how to address it (you’ll probably find that there aren’t many scenarios in which the world is going to end for your brand or business), determine who is going to be responsible for interacting with people, who is going to respond to certain types of questions, and when you need to hit pause and run comments by your legal team for approval.
These are just a few thought-starters, but the point is that the more planned out your approach to being social is, the more comfortable your organization will be with proactively initiating a dialogue with consumers. People tend to be nervous of the unknown; so the more you can do to shed light on what your plans are, the better.
Keep everyone informed
While having every comment, interaction, and response approved up and down the ladder will kill your ability to truly be social, you can keep your team and management in the know with regular interaction reports.
Choose a schedule that works for your organization (maybe weekly or monthly?) to report on your brand’s interactions. In your report, track good and the bad. If someone in your audience had something negative to say, report it, indicate how you managed to shift the negativity toward positivity, and plot out how you can work to avoid similar future negativity (view these moments of negativity as opportunities to make your business better).
Also, don’t forget to report on positivity as well. These are the success stories that will continue to earn you support of management and any naysayers about the power of social media. Reporting on positive interactions will also be helpful for determining who your key influencers are, and determining what it is about your business or brand that gets people geared up.
Ensure that management in on board
Get your management or senior leadership team on board. Simple as that (haha). If you have the consent and support of senior leadership, your ability to be social will be much more smoothly enacted.
Demonstrate to them the opportunity of being a truly social brand and help to make them see the light. If they’re on board, this will make your life one thousand percent easier. Barriers that used to be crippling will crumble, and you will have the support that you need to be successful.
If you gain the support of senior leadership, ensure that you don’t abuse it or take it for granted. Keep demonstrating the power of being social, and show them the positive effect it is having on their business. The more you can demonstrate the effect your interactions are having on their business, the more support they’ll give.
You’ve probably noticed this by now, but I’ll spell it out anyway; the real key here is actually being social yourself. Keeping lines of communication open is of paramount importance to keeping stakeholders in your organization comfortable with your grand plans of sociability. It’s what people don’t understand that makes them feel uncomfortable, and when things are happening that they don’t know about, it’s easy to understand why they’d be disapproving.
Have you ever encountered friction to being social on social media?
How did you overcome that?
Do you have a process in place for your social interactions?
Let’s chat about this more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
This post builds upon content published previously. For related reading, please check out, Is Your Business Forgetting to be Social on Social Media?, and, Building Relationships by Proactively Initiating a Dialogue on Social Media.