2013 Social Media Trends for Retailers

2012 saw tremendous social media growth with rapid interest in Pinterest and Facebook exceeding one billion users. 2013 is expected to be another year full of technology innovations and social media growth. Here’s what’s trending for the upcoming year:

  1. Loyalty Programs
  2. Digital Wallets
  3. Mobile Marketing
  4. eCommerce Sites
  5. Social Shopping

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks. Retailers have been using loyalty programs for decades to retain customers. Deloitte Retail Survey found that retailers with a loyalty program are 88% more profitable than their competitors that don’t have one. However, for 2013 we’ll see loyalty programs turn digital, running off of iPads and smartphones. The digital element allows for a more automated, fun and game like experience.

LoyalBlocks, a loyalty mobile application makes it incredibly easy for shoppers to get rewarded. All they have to do is add the app to their smartphone and walk in to the retail store. Once inside, customers can open the app and either receives tokens, a punch on their digital “card” or an in-store message like “Receive 10% off today!”

Leave your wallet at home. Loyalty programs are going digital and so are your wallets. Cashless consumption is already happening in places like Starbucks and Best Buy, but technology companies like Google and Apple are developing apps and programs that enable customers to make purchases with their smartphones, creating a “Digital Wallet” that can be used at local retail locations.

All a consumer has to do is sync an app with their credit card and scan a code at the register. With LevelUp, Merchants can accept mobile payments and not be charged a fee, so if you sell something for $40, you’ll receive $40. With predictions of smartphone adoption to continue to grow and account for around 90% of all mobile phones in 2013, we’ll see more retailers integrate with this technology. (Note: with the growth of digital wallets will also increase the concern of privacy and security. When implementing this type of technology, ensure you’re using a secure application.)

So text me, maybe? Email inboxes are filling up fast and getting email acted on let alone opened is always a challenge for marketers. With text or SMS (short message service) marketing, consumers can get offers and sales delivered directly to their cell phones. For retailers, using SMS to market can be a great way to get exclusive event information or time sensitive coupon codes out quickly for customers to easily access and act on.

Tatango is an easy to use service for merchants to integrate texting into their stores. When using SMS marketing, be sure to be selective with what messages you send out and the frequency. Using email marketing is still a great way to connect with customers, and can be a compliment to your text offers. In fact, I suggest using email to promote your text message offers and encourage customers to opt in.

2013 will also include other fashions of mobile marketing like mobile ads on top of mobile sites and MMS (multimedia messaging service) marketing including picture and video messages.

Very Pinteresting. Pinterest impacted online retailer sales in 2012, referring more traffic than Twitter and more revenue per click than Facebook, this social platform proved imagery sells and consumers shop online. From these results, more retailers are opening online stores or giving customers the ability to buy products from their Facebook page. U.S. social commerce (sales of physical goods through online social networks) is projected to grow by 93% per year from 2011-2015, and predicted to be $5 billion in 2013. Ecwid.com is a good solution for selling products on a Facebook business page.

With sites like Shopify and Big Commerce, retailers can create an online store without needing a developer or graphic designer, helping them stay competitive and giving them an additional sales outlet. Mobile shopping is also on the rise, predicted to be $14 billion in 2013, up $4 billion for 2012.

Social shopping is a method of eCommerce where shoppers’ friends become involved in the shopping experience. This is achieved through group buying sites like Groupon or LivingSocial, product recommendations whether left on the merchant’s website or discussed on social networks, and forums that create communities of shoppers to discuss, share and shop.  As eCommerce spending grows, social integration is critical to stay competitive.

2013 will show more eRetailers featuring the ‘Pin It’, ‘Share It’ ‘Like It’ button next to every product and will include product recommendations, ratings and community forums. In 2013 we might also see a “Want” button on Facebook for brand pages. (Facebook is currently testing this feature and has not stated if or when it will be live to any or all brand pages.)

Also expect: gift giving on Facebook, more rewards for social sharing, social search, paid content placement on Facebook versus ads, increase in video marketing, mobile POS systems like Squareup.com and an increase in SoLoMo (customers using location-based mobile applications to share local business’s sales, products, events to their online networks like Facebook and Twitter).