How do retailers make money from social media? The answer, according to the 2012 Social Commerce IQ Study released by 8thBridge, is definitely not in the brands’ own social network pages. The report found that less than 2.5% of retailers’ traffic is driven from Facebook, and that figure falls to 0.13% for Pinterest, and 0.07% for Twitter. Instead, the key may be to integrate social functionalities directly into the brand’s own e-commerce site and encourage their customers to be the ones sharing the products. “Simply posting to brand pages does not generate enough interaction to provide a valuable return,” says John Kubo, chief product officer at 8thBridge,

The study found that retailers that have deeply entrenched social features on their sites — for example, social sign-in or ability to like, pin, or share products — see much higher engagement and conversions across the board. 8thBridge named Fab.com this year’s most social commerce savvy retailer. The flash sale site allows users to log-in with their Facebook ID, “fave” products on the site, and share products and purchases on their social networks. In addition, Fab.com features an on-site social feed where consumers can see the most popular trending items and comment on others’ purchases. Taking a cue from Pinterest, Fab.com even allows users to create their own inspiration boards right on it’s website. By encouraging users to shop “socially,” the retailer was able to achieve significant ROI, seeing over 24% upstream traffic from Facebook, 50% new customer acquisition from friend-to-friend sharing, and a 15% conversion rate from socially discovered products.

Retailers like Fab.com see much greater success when their customers are sharing socially on their behalf because many US online adults just don’t want to engage with companies on social media. According to Forrester research, 40% of adults don’t want to interact with brands on social networks, and 48% of adults who have friended a business on Facebook did so solely for discounts, offers, or retail incentives. 8thBridge also surveyed almost 2,000 US Facebook users for the study and found that 70% of respondents would rather hear about a new product from a Facebook friend than from a brand. At the end of the day, users are still on social networks to interact with friends and family, and savvy retailers should think of how they can leverage that behavior for business.

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