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Social media reviews will be key to 2015 holiday sales

by | Nov 5, 2015 | Retail, Social Media

This holiday season, peer-to-peer online reviews will influence what goes on shoppers’ lists, according to new research from advocacy activation firm Social Media Link—83% say they discover new products on a monthly basis through social media before other sources, and 67% say they always or often seek out family or close friends’ recommendations online while researching a purchase, according to a new survey of over 21,000 active social media users. In addition, recommendations from family and friends have purchase-driving impact for 65% of respondents.

“Holiday shopping is trend-driven and last-minute. Consumers wait to learn what’s hot, then make their lists,” said Susan Frech, CEO of Social Media Link, in a news release. “This study suggests that they’re already discovering new products through the power of online reviews. That’s a game-changer.”

Reviews on retailer websites, brand websites and Facebook will impact consumers’ choices more than reviews on other channels. The survey found that consumers trust these channels for the most popular holiday gifts: computers and electronics, personal care items, children’s products and apparel.

“User-generated content, those testimonials, videos and reviews, are what is swaying consumers more than ever this year,” said Frech. “Brands that focus on getting their messages out through their consumers, will win all along the path to purchase.”

Consumer Are Influenced To Purchase by Fewer Reviews, Trust Friends’ Opinions More

One and done—18% of those surveyed said that one online review is all it takes to convince them to purchase, as long as the review is from a close friend, family member of colleague. Another 23% say up to four reviews from a variety of sources does the trick.

Video Reviews Significantly More Persuasive Than Last Year

Unlike past seasons, where Facebook reviews held more impact than those on other channels, video reviews are gaining in credibility.

The SRI found that shoppers are using videos for:

  • Discovery: 46% say they use YouTube to learn about new products and brands, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2014 survey
  • Research: Close to half (49%) say they use YouTube to gather information before making a purchase, an 11 percentage point increase from last year
  • Purchase: Two thirds of those surveyed use video reviews at least some of the time to help make a purchase decision, mostly for computers and electronics (44%), personal care items (44%) and children’s products, including toys (41%).

The survey also found that who produces the video matters.

  • Video reviews from YouTube reviewers and on retail websites tied for influencing 64% of the respondents,
  • 50% have been influenced by a blogger’s video

“While video reviews on YouTube certainly hold sway for consumers, it’s important to note that video on Facebook is gaining,” said Frech. “I predict that by next holiday season year, we’ll see the balance of video reviewing tipping to Facebook.”

Brand-Sponsored Reviews Are Still Trusted—But the Source Matters

In an era where many bloggers, vloggers and Instagram personalities are getting paid big bucks for reviews, theSocial Recommendation Index found that these pay-for-play reviews are trusted by fewer people than reviews from a family member or friend who received a free product to review.

  • 87% of respondents said they trust a review or recommendation from a friend or family member if they receive a free product or experience with the brand, compared to 71% of respondents who trusted reviews or recommendations from social media influencers receiving a free product in exchange for a review
  • Conversely, 46% of respondents trust pay-for-play reviews by social media influencers they follow
  • Only 23% say they trust a celebrity’s endorsement

Celebrity endorsements don’t matter when researching products, either:

Only 11% say they check out what a celebrity has to say about a purchase when researching products

“It’s abundantly clear that what consumers think and post online about products and services impacts every stage in the path to purchase.” said Frech. “Brands that can figure out how to leverage real people to share their opinions in different ways on different channels will win this holiday season and well into 2016.”

Download an infographic detailing the findings here.

The Social Recommendations Index is an online quantitative survey, issued to members within the Smiley360 community in September, 2015; 21,258 respondents from Smiley360’s community answered a 23-question online survey.

Respondents’ Demographic Profile:

94% Female; 6% Male
1% Under 18
27% 18-29
40% 30-39
21% 40-49
9% 50-59
2% 60 and over

Source: PRWeb; edited by Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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