Facebook drives shoppers to act online and off

Retailers know they can use social channels to build up engaged audiences, but according to new research, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is a legitimate driver for business as well.

G/O Digital's report "Harnessing the Power of Facebook for Small Businesses" surveyed more than 1,000 Facebook users in the United States who had shopped at a local business in the last year and discovered the social network is growing its influence with shoppers.

Discounts and special deals were the biggest influencer when it came to motivating shoppers to buy, as 51 percent of respondents said they would click through to the retailer's site. Fifty-four percent said discounts would motivate them enough to book an appointment.

Perhaps most surprising was how much more important Facebook was to shoppers than other major social networks. The vast majority of respondents—73 percent—felt it was the most important social media channel for a local business to maintain a presence on. Only 3 percent said Twitter, 2 percent chose LinkedIn and 1 percent thought Instagram was the most important.

As for what targeted content performs best on Facebook, there weren't any runaway victors. Ads targeted based on user interests were most preferred by 34 percent, 15 percent wanted offers based on their location, and just ten percent liked ads targeted to them based on their recent purchases.

Those results suggest that, while there is much success to be had for retailers on Facebook, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Each brand needs to test and optimize for what works best with their particular audience.

"The road to success on Facebook is not an easy one and requires a well thought-out plan that balances both quality content and targeted advertising," said Raghav Mathur, VP of strategy and business development at G/O Digital, in a statement. "That's why building a strategy grounded in a customer-centric approach and long-term ROI–not a singular campaign–is key in positioning businesses to grow, compete and thrive, year after year."

While the size of Facebook's lead over competitor networks is surprising, the fact that it's the frontrunner is not. The social platform has been rolling out retail-focused initiatives lately, including its own beacons and new features for its Messenger app that allow for P2P payments and direct communication with shoppers.

For more:
-See this G/O Digital study

Related stories:
Push messages push shoppers into venues in big numbers
Shoppers suffer from push message fatigue as response rates fall
US shoppers rely on home internet, but mobile-reliant in stores
Loyalty programs miss with mobile shoppers
Virtual beacons create networks without hardware