Top Holiday Shopping Surprises From Social Data

By Tom Hasselman

One of the best things about the holidays is being surprised. If you’re a data geek like me, you’ll be happy to know this year’s holiday shopping social media data is filled with surprises — from which company is leading the conversation on Twitter to the top shopping habits. Since Oct. 1, the Social Studio team at Salesforce Marketing Cloud tracked and reported on social media conversations around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We analyzed a whopping 3.8 million social posts mentioning these shopping holidays and found tips from smart retailers who owned the social conversation, along with a few unexpected trends.

1. Online Shopping is Changing Consumer Habits

It’s no surprise that online shopping is booming, but the impact online shopping is having on consumer sentiment and shopping tendencies is surprising. As I noted in a previous post, many people on social media discussed how they were going to wait for Cyber Monday to “avoid the crowds” and “find better deals.” The conversations of those avoiding Black Friday and waiting for Cyber Monday grew significantly this year.

Additionally, from Nov. 22 to Dec. 15 Amazon led major retailers in social conversations and Walmart actually saw social mentions decline by more than 50 percent compared to 2014. This may be due to the fact that consumers increasingly are avoiding brick-and-mortar stores, according to Salesforce’s 2015 Connected Shopper Report, which found that 88% of consumers avoid shopping at physical stores during the holidays.

2. Twitter is the #Winning Platform

When Twitter first entered the scene in 2006, it was hard to imagine that this stream of status updates would turn into a powerful platform for brands and consumers. Yet today, when it comes to discussing Cyber Monday and Black Friday, Twitter is most consumers’ go-to platform. Because of Twitter’s open platform (with Facebook, posts can be private and hard to track) it’s easy for brands to drive engagement with consumers and lead Black Friday conversations. With two weeks to go before Black Friday, overall social conversations about the day were up 20% over last year and from Nov. 22 to Dec. 15 conversations around Black Friday/Cyber Monday on Twitter were up 48% from last year.

3. Even #OptOutside Can’t Beat a Giveaway

This year outdoor retailer REI seemed like it would dominate all Black Friday/Cyber Monday Twitter mentions with its decision to stay closed on Black Friday and run a corresponding social campaign using the hashtag #OptOutside. From Oct. 1 to Nov. 2 ahead of Black Friday, REI had over 10x the number of conversations compared to other brands around Black Friday because they found a unique point of view on a trending topic and stayed true to their brand.

Yet, during the week of Nov. 24–30, Kohl’s Black Friday sweepstakes surprisingly overtook all brand chatter on Twitter, beating Amazon and REI. Kohl’s achieved incredible results because they used a mix of organic and Promoted Tweets to extend its reach and connect with new audiences. Tweets clearly stated the opportunity, prize and how to play, including attention-grabbing winter and “Frozen” themed visuals. To maintain momentum, Kohl’s kept content fresh with tweets about seasonal facts, song lyrics and questions about Black Friday at Kohl’s.

4. Speed is Key in Customer Service and Online Shopping

This year, consumers weren’t only talking about the best deals. The increasing number of online shoppers resulted in a growing focus on the value of having a fast internet connection and a website that won’t crash. Additionally, a growing number of shoppers turned to Twitter to discuss customer service around Black Friday. It’s clear from this data that being a customer company today means making social media an integrated part of your brand’s customer service strategy.

The data in all of Salesforce’s Black Friday posts is pulled from Social Studio, which analyzes hundreds of millions of data sources from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, news sites and more. Request a demo to see how social listening can impact your business.

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