New Facebook study sheds light on retail fans’ habits

By Chris Lee

A new white paper from industry watcher comScore has unveiled some interesting statistics into the behaviour of Facebook users. In its latest study, The Power of Like Europe: How Social Marketing Works for Retail Brands, comScore looked at how European retailers such as ASOS, H&M, La Redoute, Topshop and Zara are performing on Facebook.

According to the report’s findings, a third (32 per cent) of the European Facebook user’s time is spent on that individual’s homepage, which features the News Feed. This is also where they receive the majority of their exposure to branded content. comScore also highlighted the importance of Friends of Fans – people who know the brand’s fans and therefore have exposure to that brand on their News Feed whenever that fan interacts with it. For every Facebook fan of the top 1,000 brands in Europe, comScore says there are 81 friends to be reached.

Facebook impact on retail

The retail sector was singled out for study by comScore and can probably owe a lot of its Facebook success to the peer-based nature and young market of the brands studied.

In the UK, fans of ASOS were found to be 3.6 times more likely to visit the ASOS website than non-fans, while friends of fans were 2.7 times more likely to visit the site. ASOS’ advertising strategy on Facebook was also credited for a 130 per cent uplift in purchase behaviour in the following four weeks, and fans or friends of fans were found to be 10 per cent more likely to make a purchase on the ASOS site, compared to those out of the brand’s reach.

Mike Shaw, Director of Marketing Solutions at comScore, said: “While every campaign is unique and may vary in its ultimate effectiveness, this research demonstrates how Facebook marketing can be effective in reaching consumers and influencing their actual purchase behaviour.”

A true reflection of retail?

Despite the apparent positives of highly engaged Facebook strategies for retailers, a recent global study by The Economist found that only four per cent of senior executives say “they have advanced metrics in place that can tie social media campaigns directly to retail sales.”

According to Ged Carroll, director of digital strategies at London-based PR agency Ruder Finn, the comScore study does not necessarily represent the whole picture for many retail brands

“Part of the challenge with likes, as comScore points out, is in terms of strategic framing. The report looks at some of the most sophisticated brands,” he told NMK.

Carroll said that in reality brands break down into three categories in terms of their understanding of likes as part of their marketing communications mix on Facebook:

  • Those that are focused on likes or fans
  • Those that are focused on likes or fans and haven’t managed to find a way to link this to some form of marketing return on investment (depending on the brand there may not be a linkage)
  • Those that consider fans or likes as the first stage on a journey which requires effort and resources to reach fans through their news feed, engage them, amplify though above the line spend and then create a behavioural change be it a purchase or an action

“The reality is Facebook isn’t a universal marketing panacea but depends on the context of the platform, how the brand fits in with this context and whether an online behavioural change like a purchase or brand advocacy would fit in that context,” he concluded.

A separate study from agency TBG Digital and the University of Cambridge also found that cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) costs were increasing by 58 per cent year-on-year. The report authors claimed that “Facebook is not only earning more from advertising, but that ad engagement has reversed its downward trend,” aided in part by the introduction of Facebook’s new mobile ads.

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