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One Social Platform is a Complete Sales Bust—and it May Not Be the One You Think

There’s been a growing concern among brands that perhaps they’re overpaying for the influence of influencers, but a new study shows the exorbitant sums may be well worth it.

That’s because the delicate balance most influencers are able to strike between promoting a product and absorbing it as part of their lifestyle, is what resonates with today’s consumers.

“Despite a host of algorithms and whizbang tech, ad experiences are still essentially interruptive, driving about nine out of 10 brands toward the use of influencers,” Gartner L2 noted in its newly released “Intelligence Report: Social Platforms & Influencers 2018.” “Influencers, which received a torrent of coverage in 2017, appear poised to dominate brand marketing on social platforms in 2018.”

Looking at the digital strategies of 424 of the industry’s leading brands on social media platforms, Gartner L2 said nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population is tuned into social media, and on a global scale, that number climbs to 4 billion, with 11 new users joining every second.

And perhaps not surprisingly, Instagram is leading the charge when it comes to consumers engaging with brands.

“Instagram generates over 90 percent of interactions while accounting for only 10 percent of total posts,” Gartner L2 said. “Twitter, which is largely used by brands for customer service, accounts for 81 percent of social posts and only 1 percent of total interactions. Facebook’s meager share of interactions hints at the downfall of brand visibility on the platform due to algorithmic changes.”

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Though it’s clear brands can capture consumers’ attention on social media, there’s been a slower uptake in trying to convert them there. Particularly when it comes to Facebook.

Only 20 percent of fashion brands have made their Facebook pages shoppable—which Gartner L2 believes has to do with the platform’s limited features and lacking visibility of the critical and key “Shop Now” button. By contrast, 58 percent of fashion brands are converting keen shoppers on Instagram.

“Forty-one percent of Index brands employ Instagram’s shoppable accounts, over double the amount of Facebook,” the report pointed out. “While Facebook’s shoppable pages resemble brand site product grid pages, Instagram’s shoppable accounts consolidate the brand’s shoppable posts, which link to corresponding product pages.”

When it comes to Twitter, it’s an entirely different story. That’s where interactions—80 percent of them, in fact—are tied to customer service. But some brands are missing their opportunity to leverage the connections there

“Despite reports forecasting Twitter’s downfall and the rise of chatbots, the platform is still a top choice for customer service,” Gartner L2 said. “However, even with higher adoption, a majority of fashion and watch and jewelry brands still do not leverage Twitter as a customer service tool, presumably to uphold brand equity.”

Whether they’re feeling out the right platform fit or balance between influencer use and brand-driven directives, retailers do seem to be catching on to s-commerce, since it may not be the best avenue for creating awareness, driving transactions and providing customer service—the three objectives Gartner L2 says companies should have when employing social media.

But, as Gartner L2 pointed out, “The competition is heating up—66 percent of analyzed brands have adopted a social commerce feature within the past year…leader brands meet customers at their fingertips, sending them to product pages and customer service representatives (both human and chatbot) with a simple click, tap, or swipe.”