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Social networks boost retail

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Social networking is growing in importance to online retailers, according to a new report.

Experian Hitwise found that social networks are now sending almost 13% more traffic to online retailers this year, compared to last year.

In September, 9.1% of all visits to shopping and classifieds sites came from social media, up from 8.3% in September 2009.

The chief beneficiary is the music category, where 11.3% of traffic is driven by social networking, after growth of 5% over the last year. Video and games also see more than 11% of traffic coming from social media.

In September 11.6% of all UK internet visits were to social networking sites, according to Experian’s Getting to grips with social media report. The same month, about one in 10 visits to a website came straight from Facebook.

Robin Goad, Hitwise research director, said: “As our analysis shows, most of the online retail categories have seen an increase in traffic coming from social media this year with music, video and games leading the way.

“The challenge for companies is still how to successfully use social media without infringing on what was previously considered a community space. For those brands that get it right, the rewards can be exceptional. For example, BlackBerry now receives more traffic from social networks than search engines largely because of the brand's commitment to engage with consumers online."

The research also found that some 75% of all visits to social media sites are to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Facebook alone sees 55% of visits to all social networking sites and is also an important source of traffic to websites. Meanwhile sites such as Vimeo, Badoo and tumblr have also seen online traffic at least double in the last year.

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