WASHINGTON — Consumers are using Pinterest to engage with retailers more than Facebook or Twitter, according to a survey released Thursday by Shop.org, ComScore and The Partnering Group.
Additionally, the "2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study" discovered that one-third of smartphone owners who shop online share their location with a retailer.
U.S. consumers reported that they already follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on Pinterest, compared with the average 6.9 retailers they follow on Facebook and the 8.5 retailers they track via Twitter. Overall, almost 2-out-of-5 (38%) online consumers follow retailers through one or more social networking sites.
The survey found company blogs, YouTube and Facebook command the majority of consumers' social activity. In particular, 70% of those who follow a retailer's blog click through to the website, and though sometimes overlooked in the overall social media mix, more than two-thirds (68%) of consumers use YouTube to browse and research a retail company.
"Retailers have done a commendable job embracing social media — engaging their customers where it makes sense while keeping their brand relevant, interesting, appealing and exciting on each platform," Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell said. "Specifically, Pinterest has given retailers another channel to 'listen' to and interact with both existing and new customers, telling an ongoing visual story through images of their products and their brand 'spirit,' a story that customers can then tell again to their friends and family members."
When it comes to what spurs consumers to follow retailers on social media platforms, the study found that finding good deals is still the leading reason, but that deals and promotions have lost a little bit of their luster. This year, 51% said they follow a retailer to get information on deals and coupons, down from 58% who said so last year. Four-in-10 (43%) said they are looking for product information and 36% want to post/read comments about merchandise or services.
Additionally, 34% of those who follow retailers via social media said they are actively looking for information about events, 31% for current trends and ideas, 30% for photos and videos, and 27% for expert opinions.
"There are significant new opportunities for retailers to entice smartphone owners who may be within a few feet of their store — or already in the store — thanks to technology that lets shoppers who want to hear from retailers instantly interact with them," ComScore senior director Jennifer Vlahavas said. "And while check-in and store location functionality are already gaining popularity, retailers have just begun to scratch the surface of using location data to better serve their customers. In-store shopping maps and customized shopping lists are a few of the emerging mobile technologies that promise to shape consumers' future behavior."
One-third (33%) of those surveyed who own smartphones said they have shared their location with retailers. Location-based services, such as Groupon Now!, FourSquare and Facebook effectively have helped retailers instantly reach new and existing customers by targeting special offers, discounts and coupons to their mobile devices once they've "checked-in. "
The study found that men are more likely than women to share their location with a retailer (40% versus 25%, respectively), and nearly half (46%) of those ages 18 to 34 years said they have shared their location, compared with just 22% of those ages 35 to 54 years.
The survey found those with smartphones are most likely to use their device for social reasons, such as contacting friends and family about products they see and searching for items nearby, while tablets are more likely to be used to make purchases and comparison shop. Specifically, 37% of smartphone owners who shop online said they use their smartphone to take pictures of products and more than one-third (34%) said they send the pictures of the products they see to friends.