Mansfield Inc.

Timing is Everything.

When marketers develop their social media strategies, their focus is typically on a tier-one, revenue-driving campaign. To drive sales however, an emphasis must be placed on the overall brand narrative, as users seek out authentic and timely interactions.

As Gary Vaynerchuck might say, ‘right hooks’ convert traffic to sales, but your social media ROI is dependent on the quality and context of your content1. Timing is everything.

Google believes so as well. According to ThinkWithGoogle’s recent report on Micro-Moments:

  • 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision while in a store.
  • 62% of smartphone users are more likely to take action right away toward solving an unexpected problem or new task because they have a smartphone.
  • 90% of smartphone users have used their phone to make progress toward a long term goal or multi-step process while “out and about.”
  • 91% of smartphone users turn to their phone for ideas while doing a given task.

This report is more than just a push for the Nexus 6. They’re putting their money where their mouth is. According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, Google will compete with Amazon and eBay by showing buy buttons when users search for products on mobile devices, providing relevant transactional opportunities.

Here’s what we know:

People are becoming increasingly mobile and have a clear need for immediacy. These digital reflexes, as Google has stated, suggest that people are receptive to having their preferences shaped via relevant, high-quality recommendations.

In this regard, Google is not alone. Social networks are beginning to implement platforms by which their brand partners can drive revenue through social context.

The key questions remain:

  1. Can their social ad platform offer the same degree of timeliness and relevance as a search result?
  2. Do brands have the necessary information to identify ‘key moments’ in the customer journey and effectively shape fans’ preferences within social?

Shopify, an eCommerce platform that powers over 165,000 businesses, recently analyzed over 37 million social media visits and 529,000 orders to better understand how social media is impacting the commerce industry.

Here are some of their key findings:

  • Nearly two thirds of all social media visits to Shopify stores come from Facebook. Plus, an average of 85% of all eCommerce orders from social media come from Facebook.
  • Orders from Reddit increased 152% in 2013.
  • Perhaps most interesting and surprising was community style site Polyvore which is generating the highest average order value ahead of Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Also noteworthy in this category is Instagram which is also generating higher average orders than those same sites.
  • Facebook has the highest conversion rate for all social media eCommerce traffic at 1.85%

It’s no secret that Shopify has a tight-knit relationship with Facebook (they created an app to support a Facebook store), so take the numbers with a grain of salt.

I speculate that outside of Facebook, social channels enjoying eCommerce growth based on the principle of community curation — or recommendations based on the input of the community at large.

So when contrasting search and social, it’s clear that they can shape purchase preferences in two unique ways:

  • Digital reflex — “make me a recommendation based on what I need, now.”
  • Social influence — “people that I trust recommend it, so I’ll check it out.”

The power of social influence and brand advocates is no secret. What does remain a challenge is the methods by which social networks monetize their platforms and allow brands to advertise (and sell) products. This of course is the fine line between positive user experiences and branded investment.

So how are networks providing contextually relevant advertising services? Here’s the latest:

PINTEREST: BUYABLE PINS

  • Pinterest users frequent the site for creative inspiration. This upcoming feature will allow users to search for specific items, find the version they prefer and even check out with Apple Pay.
  • Is it relevant? Absolutely — this is a huge value-add for users.

FACEBOOK: NEWSFEED BUY BUTTON

  • Facebook announced an expanded beta test with Shopify for a “buy” call-to-action.
  • Is it relevant? Potentially, yes — but its relevance is highly dependent on the set advertising parameters (time, audience, etc.).

INSTAGRAM: CAROUSEL ADS

  • Instagram is an extremely influential visual platform that recently opened up its ad platform to carousel ads, or a series of photos in a single post.
  • This update allows users to click-through via defined calls-to-action (an Instagram first) and has the potentially to be very impactful.
  • Is it relevant? Early indications suggest that Instagram is very selective about the partners they work with, and the creative they’ll permit. Thus, for Instagram users, this standard of quality directly impacts the content’s relevance.

TWITTER: TICKET PURCHASING

  • Like Facebook, Twitter has been testing revenue-driving features — predominantly alongside the payments company Stripe Inc.
  • This update is definitely smaller in scale, but provides avid fans with the chance to purchase tickets via the social network.
  • Nathan Hubbard, who came from Ticketmaster to head up e-commerce at Twitter, has said that the site will eventually be a place for impulse purchases, giving people access to items or experiences as soon as they want them.
  • Is it relevant? Early indications show a great deal of potential.

In summary, timing and relevance are everything. Address how you’re identifying your customers’ key moments and provide them with value-adding content that shapes their decision making.

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