Companies who target their efforts see the best results Every social media manager wonders: what’s the most effective social media marketing platform for businesses to focus their efforts on? Now, thanks to rapidly advancing social media analytics and market research, it’s possible to understand which social networks are driving the most sales. Here are some important takeaways from the latest research about social media success and selling online in 2014. One overarching theme in recent research is the benefit of properly targeting your social media efforts. If you want a better understanding of how social media influences your customers’ decisions to purchase your products and services, there are a few important questions that you’ve got to ask. In this case, a bit of smart consumer research will go a long way toward directing your social media strategy. Most importantly, you need to know where your customers are actually spending their time online. Are they using Facebook frequently to engage with businesses and connect with friends and family, or do they spend most of their time on Twitter or Pinterest? The next step is to dig a little deeper into how your customers are using these platforms. For example, a Pinterest user is going to be looking for different things than a Facebook user. Pinterest users be using the platform to find new recipes or ideas for DIY crafts, while typical Facebook users may be on the lookout for personal updates or current events. The platforms where your customers spend the most time also determines whether you should focus on video, microvideo, visual, or written updates. Specific platforms influence buying behavior The trends suggest that visual content will continue to surge in popularity on social media in 2014. Image-based social networking sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr are experiencing significant growth. But the way people are using these platforms is shifting. Data suggests that more and more people are using these sites to create virtual product wish lists, which creates a unique opportunity for marketers hoping to make the most of social commerce. The culture is shifting from simple photo sharing to users actually creating lists of things they want to buy. As far as the other major networks go, research also indicates that Facebook is outperforming Twitter in terms of sales conversions. Facebook users are more likely to know and interact with their virtual friends in real life than Twitter users, so they’re more likely to take product recommendations seriously. The trust factor helps boost traffic and drive sales. Conclusion When it comes to making sales on social media, research suggests that companies need to pay attention to a few key points to maximize their conversions in the year ahead. Companies that target their content efforts will see the best return. A quick customer survey can help shed some light on how your business can direct its social marketing strategy. It’s also important to explore which product categories are piquing your customers’ interests on social media. And remember, when it comes to social commerce, the platform you choose to use for your business matters.