A weekly wrap-up of valuable insights from the world of visual content, social media, and influencer marketing.
Jingle Bell Retail Rock
Jingle, jingle, bing, bing, bing. Is that shopping I hear sing? It’s the sound of cash registers a-ringing and ecommerce carts a-dinging. Things are looking up for holiday retail this year, regardless of any apocalyptic alarm bells some in the media have been ringing.
This week, the top soothsayer of sales, the National Retail Federation, announced that it expects holiday retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year.
“Our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and overall strength of the industry,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Although this year hasn’t been perfect, especially with the recent devastating hurricanes, we believe that a longer shopping season and strong consumer confidence will deliver retailers a strong holiday season.”
This year’s prediction would meet or exceed last year’s growth of 3.6 percent and the five-year average of 3.5 percent. NRF’s forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales. The overall number includes the non-store category (direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales).
The top brands and retailers we work with have been getting their marketing for Black Friday/Cyber Monday and beyond in gear, with a growing emphasis on earned media. Marketers recognize that paid media matters, but it has its limitations. Brands looking to boost holiday sales have learned to optimize the value of their visual content programs on social media platforms and around the web. But it’s not as simple as paying an influencer to post a product image on Pinterest or Instagram. We’re at a critical juncture, where every marketing program is scrutinized and strategized to ensure that companies get the highest return possible for their investment. The tools we provide brands help them get the deepest level of insight about what their earned media campaigns deliver -- during the holidays and all year round.
The Social Pincode
Here at ShareIQ, we make no secret of our interest in Pinterest. As a colleague has smartly said: “Customers we work with have discovered a powerful partner in the Pinterest pinning and re-pinning platform. While there is definitely value in advertising on the network, brands get a tremendous advantage when they use it to optimize content seeding and sharing strategies. And while, paid media can be helpful, marketers really don't have to buy advertising to drive awareness on the platform.”
However, brands derive the greatest benefit from Pinterest when their tactics across the marketing funnel -- and across paid and owned media -- work in concert to shepherd consumers down the discover-to-buy pathway.
As Jacob Kastrenakes writes in The Verge: Pinterest is now making a bet on the scannable QR-style code trend, launching a colorful version of the tech that it calls Pincodes. At launch, Pincodes can only be created by companies and publishers; but if you stumble upon one, you’ll be able to scan it using Pinterest’s Lens feature to pull up whatever Pinterest board it links to. It sounds like Pinterest expects to see these pop up on packaging and in ads, to let potential customers check out related products.
Pincodes were released alongside several other updates to Pinterest’s visual search features. One of the biggest new features is something Pinterest is calling “Lens your Look.” The feature lets you refine a search using your camera -- so you could search for “scarf,” then take a photo of your winter coat, and Pinterest will try to pull up results that match your existing outfit. Pinterest also says it’s adding more than 5 million additional shoppable products, bringing the service to 60 million shoppable products in total, which means all of these features should make it easier to find something you’re interested in and able to buy.
Pinterest debuted its Lens feature back in February, giving users a way to look up clothes, food, furniture, and other objects with their camera. Lens itself was an expansion of the visual search tool that Pinterest launched back in 2015, and Pinterest says it’s seen a 70 percent growth year over year, with the service now counting 300 million visual searches every month.
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