In the United States, social sites are increasingly making their mark as a tool serving the shopping public. But that doesn’t mean that every brand needs to focus the same level of attention on every site.

Different Social Media Suit Different Types of Social Shopper

Close to 95 million US Americans are now using social media to shop, which means that around 42% of the United States population are ‘social shoppers’. But as far as those shopping on these sites are concerned, not all are of equal usefulness. These are the findings of a new study, “SocialShop”, released by LeoBurnett/Arc, which examines the influence each platform has on a person's buying behaviour. Cyril Attias, CEO of the social media agency Influence Digitale (Digital Influence) concurs. "Some platforms are more effective than others. A product that’s on Pinterest, for example, has three times as much chance of being purchased than if it’s displayed on another social network," he told L'Atelier, explaining that: "Pinterest enables a company to integrate a product more easily into a brand universe." Moreover, with 73% of consumers confirming they are using social networks more for their purchases than a year ago, each platform has seen some growth. In fact, SocialShop found that 55% of social shoppers are making more use of daily deal sites than they were a year ago, 46% have increased their engagement on review sites and forums, while 42% of social shoppers are using Facebook more.

Six types of ‘social shopper’

The Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide researchers have identified six shopper archetypes reflecting the needs and habits of today's social shoppers. The ‘Savvy Passionista’ mainly uses social networks to share the latest trends with friends and stay “in the know” on favourite brands. The type the researchers call the ‘Opportunistic Adventurer’ is a person with impulsive social shopping tendencies who is basically out to “score fun and unexpected deals.” Then there are those shoppers who are looking for hard information, such as the ‘Strategic Saver’, who uses social media to make comparisons and spends time “digging for deals” just for his/her favourite brands, and the ‘Quality Devotee’, who turns to social media to help shape purchasing decisions and “validate choice.” The two remaining profiles identified are of consumers who have very practical but diametrically opposite needs - the ‘Efficient Sprinter’, whose only aim is to save precious time and uses social media to select the most highly-rated items, regardless of cost; and the ‘Dollar Defaulter’, whose one social shopping goal is to track down the cheapest price.

A social media channel for every need

Each of these six shopper archetypes expresses a specific need which may correspond to a particular site. While Facebook and Twitter are used to share opinions or to stay connected, YouTube, for example, can help a user to validate his/her choices. Nevertheless, Cyril Attias advises brands to "try out all the social sites to start with to see where the natural customer communities for the brand are, and then really get involved in that channel, while at the same time maintaining a presence on the other sites". He underlines moreover that a brand needs to cultivate these communities so as to get close to them and win their trust. The SocialShop study confirms this view, the findings showing that 44% of social shoppers had stopped interacting with brands on Facebook due to a “lack of relevant or valuable posts”.