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In the past, social commerce has proved a disappointment to many prognosticators who expected the shopping directly from the likes of Facebook to be a nearly instant success. But analysts are beginning to think its time has come, with social networks and social media users alike a few years older and wiser.
For one thing, the rise of visual social networks like Pinterest and Instagram might lend a more natural home to commerce-related calls to action, like buy buttons. Users of Pinterest in particular are frequently characterized as creating virtual visual wish lists, and brands in many categories have seized on Instagram as a place to make their visually stunning products pop—and inspire desire.
According to Market Track, though, it’s not quite what you’d call the year of social commerce. An August 2015 survey found that just 9% of US internet users planned to purchase directly via a social network during the holiday season.
Using social for research was more common. Nearly a quarter of respondents planned to do so—though that was still far lower than the 74% who would check out store flyers or the 51% who would watch TV ads, or even the 44% who would use promotional emails for this purpose.
Overall, 52% of respondents said they would use social media for holiday shopping in some way, including 36% who planned to look for discounts, 32% who would research gift ideas, and 12% who looked forward to watching product videos.
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