Facebook, Twitter Influence Holiday Shopping Habits

Social networking sites are more likely to influence holiday shoppers’ spending habits than hardware such as smartphones or tablets.

Holiday shoppers’ behaviors will continue to be heavily influenced by social media, but not necessarily by their mobile or tablet devices, according to an online poll of 400 consumers from behavioral marketing company SteelHouse and research firm Instant.ly.

More than 50 percent of those surveyed indicated they plan to look for holiday deals and discounts on social media sites, but the majority of them will be looking for them on their computers, not on their mobile or tablet, with 64 percent of shoppers looking for holiday deals and discounts on social media on their notebook or desktop computer, not their mobile or tablet device.

Just over half (51 percent) of respondents said they would not use their mobile device or tablet to browse or purchase gifts this holiday season, and 58 percent said they would not use their mobile or tablet device to comparison shop in-store to find better prices. However, 89 percent of these shoppers said they would search online to find the best prices.

Moreover, social media sites, particularly Facebook, are likely to play a big role in upping holiday sales this season as nearly half of all respondents said they’ve purchased a product or service they’ve seen recommended or shared on social media sites.

Forty-four percent of shoppers said they have purchased a product or service they’ve seen recommended or shared on a social media site. Of these consumers, 85 percent said they saw the item they purchased on Facebook, followed by Twitter at 23 percent and Pinterest at 16 percent.

Regarding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers indicated this year they would be specifically looking for electronics and media, with 70 percent shopping for electronics such as TVs, computers and digital cameras, while 50 percent said they would be shopping for media, including DVDs video games and books.

The majority of shoppers said they would spend the same amount ($250–$500) as they did last year online versus in-store this holiday season and will split their overall spending budget evenly between the two channels.

In addition, coupon sites like Swagbucks, MyPoints and Zanga were noted as hotspots for deal searching and collecting rewards. The biggest influence on shoppers’ behavior prior to purchasing this year will be seeking product reviews and recommendations.

The survey found 64 percent of shoppers would read product reviews and recommendations before making a purchase, while consumers cited free shipping (37 percent), percentage off (30 percent), and buy one, get one free deals (30 percent) as the top three offers they’re looking for this year.

“This holiday season we’re really focused on optimizing our Website,” said Heels.com interactive media director Austin Caldwell. “And to make sure we maximize our conversion, as soon as shoppers arrive at our site, they get two great offers – free second-day shipping and returns and a percentage off. These offers reinforce what our shoppers will be seeing in our online ads and on Facebook this holiday season.”