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A recent report by Adobe offers a snapshot of the intersection between brands and social media use in Europe. Jonathan Wright reports

HOW SHOULD RETAILER use the web and social media to enhance the customer experience? It’s a question that’s tricky enough to answer in terms of just one country, let alone when you start to look all across Europe. Throw in the fact that many retailers target different demographics with different messages and things become even more complex.

In this context, a recent report by Adobe makes fascinating reading. The report focused on how brands (not just retailers), use the web and social media and reveals that Facebook remains the behemoth of the social world, with 89% of European consumers saying they use the service. Of these, 90% said they used Facebook to follow and interact with brands.

This, perhaps, isn’t too surprising, but drill down into the data and a far more nuanced picture emerges of how consumers interact with brands via social media. Key findings of the report include:

  • Swedes were described as being the most “socially savvy”, with a third using Snapchat to engage with brands and 51% of Swedes using Instagram
  • UK brands drive the most consumers to their websites through various social media outlets, with an average website traffic rate of 4.6% in 2015. In contrast, the figure for Germany was just 0.54%
  • Among millennials, 55% of 18-24 year olds and 38% of 25-34 year olds in Europe are using Instagram. Turning to 18-24 year olds, 72% are following or engaging with a brand on Instagram
  • The media and entertainment sector is the most successful at driving traffic to sites, with a traffic rate of 7.6% compared to an industry traffic rate of 1% or less in sectors such as retail, telecommunications or travel

That latter figure is particularly intriguing from a retail perspective. What is it that makes the media and entertainment sector so successful? An educated guess would be that it’s a sector that, by its very nature, puts an onus on creating compelling and engaging content.

So could retailers also create better content?

Perhaps, but we would issue words of caution here. The new John Lewis Christmas advert, while it’s become a national event, will clearly never generate the buzz of a new James Bond film. Nevertheless, in an era when brands and retailers are experimenting with so-called ‘gameification’ techniques, content creation is an area worth watching.

Finally, it’s worth reflecting on why social media users are still relatively slow to engage with content. Perhaps this is because brands are still insufficiently sophisticated when it comes to working out what content to provide: less than half (45%) of European consumers agree that social media channels are getting better at providing relevant content and advertisements.

The Adobe research, the second stage of its Europe Best of the Best 2015 Report was based on Adobe Marketing Cloud data and a survey related to the online habits of more than 5,000 consumers across Europe

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