Retailers Without Social Media Presence Missing Opportunity to Engage Consumers

A quarter of the top 100 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide have no formal Facebook presence and another quarter have fewer than 10,000 fans, according to a new study from customer satisfaction measurement firm ForeSee Results Inc.

That means that those retailers are missing opportunities to engage consumers, says the report, since of the 69% of online shoppers who say they use social media sites 56% follow at least one retailer on at least one social network. Shoppers who interact with a company on a social media site report being more satisfied, more committed to the brand and more likely to make future purchases from that company.

"This is a bit of a chicken-​and-​egg phenomenon," says study author Kevin Ertell, vice president of retail strategy. "A retailer's best customers are the customers most likely to friend the retailer on Facebook or subscribe to the retailer's YouTube channel." When retailers provide rewarding social media experiences, customers become even more satisfied and loyal, says Ertell.

"Our most loyal customers are likely to reach out to us on social media, but it's how we interact with them once there that fosters greater loyalty and the likelihood to buy from us in the future," says the report.

The study found that 49% of respondents who become a fan of, or follow, a retailer do so to learn about special deals and options, 45% to learn about products, and 5% for customer support. That's exactly what marketers want to hear from consumers, says Ertell.

"They're asking for promotions and information," he says. "And they're doing so in a viral atmosphere where they can spread that information around, so your best customers can also become your best marketers."

Among shoppers who regularly use social media, Facebook is the dominant site, according to the report. Here are the most popular web sites among shoppers who use social media, with the percentage of consumers who regularly visit each:

  • Facebook, 81%
  • YouTube, 31%
  • MySpace, 22%
  • Twitter, 16%
  • LinkedIn, 12%
  • Flickr, 7%
  • Other social site, 2%
  • Yelp, 2%

Study conducted by ForeSee Results Inc., as cited by Internet Retailer, February 9, 2010.  Website: www​.internetretailer​.com.