Why brands should turn to Facebook ahead of Valentine's Day

With consumers on the hunt for Valentine's Day gifts, brands should make sure their websites and Facebook pages are fun and engaging to drive purchases, a survey says.

NEW YORK: More than 70% of consumers find Facebook to be the most trusted social network for product reviews and recommendations, according to a Social Media Link study.

With a "high gift purchasing holiday" like Valentine’s Day around the corner, Social Media Link CEO Susan Frech said marketers and PR pros should make sure their brand’s content on social platforms is relevant, fun, and engaging in order to drive more purchases.

She added that consumer-generated content reigns supreme on a brand’s Facebook page, with 83% of survey participants who say they look for personal stories and 47% who say the number of reviews influences their purchasing decisions.

The annual Social Recommendation Index, which surveyed 24,378 consumers ages 18 and up, revealed that 53% of shoppers discover new brands from Facebook, along with brand and retailer websites such as Target or Amazon. Blogs followed closely behind at 44% of shoppers. Frech said this is important because many companies have shifted their focus from blogs to YouTube and Instagram, which came in at 37% and 38%, respectively.

When it comes to researching and gathering information about products or services, more than half (56%) of consumers rely on retailer sites, followed by brand sites at 54% and Facebook at 50%.

After purchase, 54% of respondents use Facebook to share their views on the new product or service, according to the study.

Three-quarters of consumers are willing to follow a brand on Instagram, but 62% of respondents follow less than 10 brands on the social platform, the survey found. While it can be difficult to gain fans on Instagram, Frech said the platform offers companies an opportunity to break through the clutter by showcasing compelling content.

The survey also showed that trust in Pinterest as a source of reviews and recommendations rose to 64% of consumers in 2014 from 56% in 2013.

Respondents to the online survey skewed predominantly female at 94%, with the mean age at 36. The research was conducted between October and November of last year among members of Smily360, a community of consumers who offer feedback on brands and products.

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