Selling social IRL

Facebook page for General Eccentric
Facebook page for General Eccentric

We've all heard what marketers can use social media for: Branding! Engagement! Farming data! But when it comes down to it, there's only one aspect that's truly important when it comes to a company's longevity and sustained success: conversions from online interactions into sales.

According to a study by Vision Critical and the Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, one out of five Pinterest users are buying items they've pinned online. Sixteen percent of the users who pin buy items in offline stores, while 12% buy those items online. Which begs the question: Is it possible for a social, online media network to spur on just as much — if not more — in-store sales as it can online?

A friend of mine who recently moved to Louisville, Ky., (pronounced Lou-uh-vull, in case you didn't know) sent me to the Facebook page for General Eccentric, a local women's clothing boutique she frequents. The store uses its Facebook page like it could use a Pinterest page, if it had one. It lists incoming dresses and shoes, and encourages Facebook followers — yep, all 1,448 of them — to come in and buy. No mention of when they're open and when they plan to order more of popular items, though. Customers just have to ask.

While this is a small example — it is hyper local, after all — it shows that companies are using social media to complement and integrate with their in-store experiences, not just online.

Yes, I'm an e-commerce reporter, but I can't help but be intrigued by this Vision Critical study. This willingness to buy pinned items offline has to be good news for brick-and-mortar enthusiasts and, of course, for the makers of those annoying latches on dressing-room doors.

And not to mention Pinterest.

Can't wait for that IPO.

Erin Dostal
is a staff reporter at
Direct Marketing News.

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