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Lesser-known social networks offer holiday marketing opportunities for retailers

While retailers are ramping up their Facebook and Twitter campaigns for the 2014 holiday season, when it comes to reaching the increasingly important mobile shopper, they would do well to not overlook social media sites such as Tumblr, Wanelo and We Heart It.

Facebook and Twitter are great for reaching a broad audience, but often consumers on these sites are not interested in clicking around or making purchases. From a pure commerce perspective, one of the opportunities this holiday season will be on Instagram, with retailers such as Target and Nordstrom testing shoppable images via the Shop2Buy program from Curalate.

“Instagram is about celebrating the moment, and there is no better cause for celebration than the holidays,” said Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate.  “Not only will consumers be thumbing through their feeds in search of inspiration around what to buy, but fans will be busy sharing their own images of the products they interact with as they shop.

“The most exciting part about this? For retailers, these moments can now be monetized.”

Touting Tumblr
Pinterest and Instagram have gained a strong following among retailers given their strong visual presentation and the fact the users are actively researching product ideas.

However, several smaller social networks are growing quickly and could therefore provide a better opportunity for reaching new customers.

A good case in point is Tumblr, which according to recent figures from eMarketer, is growing at a rate of 24.8 percent this year. The social network is also expected to see its share of overall social networks users rise from 9.9 percent this year to 12.5 percent in 2018.

A push notification from Wanelo alerts users to a sale

Even more promising are recent findings from Adobe related to Tumblr, which show that Tumblr referrals drive the highest revenue per visit from mobile devices, 39 percent more than Facebook.

On average, anyone who comes out of Tumblr from a tablet to a retailer is likely to spend to $2.57 and from a smartphone, 67 cents. These numbers are higher than on other social media networks.

These are some of the reasons why Wet Seal and other retailers have made a big push on Tumblr to help it connect with its customers.

Wanting Wanelo
Tumblr is not the only social media site retailers should be considering,

Wanelo is positioned as a personalized shopping mall and has a strong mobile user base – 90 percent – and retail presence.  Now that it is accepting direct product feeds from retailers and has begun sending push notifications, its relevancy for retailers is likely to increase.

The push notifications enable Wanelo to alert users when an item they have saved goes on sale and have high open rates, according to the company.

Candie’s is a We Heart It fan

Where the heart is
Another social media site grabbing the attention of retailers and brands is We Heart It.

For example, Candie’s has amassed over 19,000 followers on the platform and is leveraging its native ads, which have also attracted Old Navy, Hollister and JCPenney (see story).

The attraction to marketers is that We Heart Its users are very engaged.

This points to another reason why retailers may want to look beyond the big-name social networks. Research from Adobe shows that as Facebook has gotten bigger, sharing levels may be decreasing.

Adobe found that mobile users are sharing more digital magazine content via text messaging than ever before. The use of Apple iMessage saw the strongest increase with 259 percent.

However, sharing content via Facebook is down by 42.6 percent.

The findings suggest that social media users are looking to share content in smaller sets of friends and that the big networks may have become overly broad.

“Brands use Facebook and Twitter to share information and interact with customers,” Mr. Gupta said.

“Pinterest and Instagram, on the other hand, are visual and visceral, and it’s where consumers are now going to save the products they aspire to own and celebrate those that they have bought. For retailers, these platforms are no brainers – especially during the holidays.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York