NEW YORK: Amazon clinched the number one spot among retailers on social media, according to a study released this week by Brandwatch.
Rounding out the top three were fellow ecommerce companies Etsy and eBay, followed by brick-and-mortar-based corporations Walmart and Target.
The report, Social Insights on the Retail Industry, examined more than 10 million interactions during a four-month period, breaking down social media presence into five categories: social visibility, general visibility, net sentiment, reach growth, and social engagement and content. Brandwatch collected data through general mentions of a brand online, as well as Twitter and Facebook and assigned scores of one to 100 for each category.
"The argument we’re trying to make is that social data is about more than customer service and that it can be integrated throughout the retail business," said James Lovejoy, content and research manager at Brandwatch, about the multidimensionality of the report.
One way Brandwatch analyzed social media conversations was by monitoring what products customers discussed, which can inform retailers’ business decisions, such as in-store product placements.
The company also examined customer behavior by gender. Women make up the majority of online retailers’ audience (65%) and are more likely to engage with their social media accounts than men.
The survey examined the social media presence of 43 retailers around the globe between January 13 and May 13. More than 10 million online conversations from Twitter, Facebook, news websites, blogs, and forums were analyzed.
Only 7.8% of U.S. retail sales took place online during the first quarter of 2016, according to the Census Bureau. While online retail sales have risen, more than doubling since 2007, in-store sales account for the lion’s share of transactions.
"We’re seeing a lot of influence happening online that informs what people buy in-store," Lovejoy said. "So a lot of people are doing research online beforehand, so they go into a store knowing what they want to get. The influence of digital is massive and retailers know this. While the transaction happens in-store, the real purchase decision is happening online at home."
The study also found that Facebook is outpacing all other social media platforms in terms of engagement. Consumers were three times more likely to share brands’ content on the social network than Twitter.
Retail brands are also more likely than other kinds of businesses to respond to users on social media, with tweets being a third more likely to be in direct response to a customer.
"Facebook offers a longer form and a different type of layout with richer content. You have a page, you can make a long post, and you have comments with many conversations happening within each comment," said Dinah Alobeid, head of PR at Brandwatch. "While Twitter is amazing for fast-breaking news, sharing awesome tidbits, and linking to longer-form content, Facebook is a great place for brands to share their content because it’s seeing a lot of engagement."