3 Secrets Top Retailers Use to Monetize Social Media with Visual Search
By Lihi Pinto Fryman • September 25, 2019
From a small personal space for people to interact online,
social media evolved into a powerful platform that not only commands attention
and engagement but also influences and shifts consumer behavior.
Combined with rapid technological advancements, social media
continues to push the retail industry into transformation. With the right
social media and digital strategy, retailers have massive opportunities to
better understand consumers, deliver meaningful engagements, introduce improved
products, and eventually, boost conversions and sales.
Social media and consumers
Since the beginning of the 21st century, social media usage
has been steadily growing. From just five percent of U.S. adults using at
least one social media site in 2005, social media usage is now at 72% of the
According to the Pew Research Center, within the age range
of 18-29, 90% of are using social media. This is followed by 82% of the 30-29
age group, and 69% of the 50-64 age group. Among the social media platforms, YouTube,
Facebook, and Instagram are the most
widely used. In terms of usage length, 51% of Facebook users, 42% of
Instagram users, and 36% of YouTube users visit the site several times a day.
Besides networking and mindless scrolling, the use of social
media to find inspiration and shop products is becoming a norm, especially for
young consumers. A
millennial survey found that consumers find inspiration for purchases from
external sources other than brands or retailers. From influencers and bloggers
to friends and celebrities, social media plays a big role in directly connecting
these sources to consumers
Figure 1. The
moments that matter by category
Social media and the inspiration that consumers get from
online content are vital in both stimulating and nurturing the customer
shopping journey. In fact, baby/toddler (56%), home furnishings (40%),
health/wellness (33%), electronics (31%), and apparel (29%) shoppers use social
media in at least one step of the buying process.
media impacts purchase behavior, with consumers who use social media during
the shopping journey are 4X more likely than non-users to spend more. In
addition, consumers who are somewhat or very influenced by social media are 6X
more likely to spend more than those are not.
Social media and the power of visuals
As consumers choose to follow their own digitally augmented
and social media-influenced path, retailers not only have to master social
media but also set up the right tools that support the shopping journey.
Across social media platforms, what is consistent is the
presence and power of visuals. From images and GIFs, to short clips and
long-form videos, visual content usually receives more engagement. Easily
digestible, 59% of consumers think visual information
is more important than textual information. When it comes to shopping
online for clothing or furniture, that percentage rises up to 85%.
Meeting consumers halfway, 84% of retailers see image commerce or visual search as important or very important
to their future success. In fact, with visual technology, more than half of
consumers are interested in using a photo of a product (they probably took
while browsing social media or leisurely walking on the street) to find exactly
what they are looking for or receive visually similar recommendations.
Leveraging social media and visual search, how can brands
and retailers enhance the shopping journeys of consumers?
1. Add user-generated social media content to promote products
Make connections with current and future customers by adding
a social element to your product pages. Putting up user-generated content
enhances the spirit of community within and beyond your brand, letting
customers not only add a more personal touch but also stimulate conversations
and engagement with fellow shoppers.
Moreover, customers who post products and tag brands on
social media almost always want to be recognized. They are likely more
than happy to share thoughts about your products and recommend
your brand (79%), especially if they have a positive shopping experience.
With visual-based recommendation engines, you can improve
individual product pages with user-generated content from social media. Besides
tapping into customers’ social nature, it also persuades shoppers by showing
that people are indeed buying and using your products.
2. Look for trends to influence product pages and content
With visual search, specifically its automatic product
tagging component, retailers can do it both ways. Enhance product pages with
social media and understand customers better with analytics. By knowing which
products customers are searching for or interacting with on your website or
app, you can leverage real-time inventory updates across channels—both online
3. Prepare your website or app for product discovery
Having established that consumers go to social media before
and during the shopping journey, it is then critical that your website or app
is ready to deliver visual or textual search results once shoppers make the
search. Regardless of the social media image uploaded or the keyword used,
results need to be accurate for users to continue their buying journey on your
Visual AI solutions such as a camera search button and a
backend deep tagging system not only simplify product discovery, but also
ensure that the shopping experience is seamless.
Young, digital-savvy shoppers value convenience and
relevance, and they are willing
to pay more to get that kind of expectation. Revamping your website or app
with visual search guarantees a lasting online experience that converts and
encourages repeat and spontaneous purchases.
“Partnering can provide access to talent, upgrade technology, share investment and enable a retailer to move at a pace that is not possible alone. This is about more than selecting suppliers or technology partners – it reflects a mind-set that expands across the entire retail value chain.” – Google and OC&C Strategy Consultants
Farfetch, Marks & Spencer,
Tommy Hilfiger, Argos, and Boohoo are just some of the 100+ retailers worldwide
that have partnered with Syte in order to delight their customers with better
product discovery and seamless shopping experience through visual search and
To learn more, contact us
to see how Syte makes that possible.