Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of UK shoppers have researched Christmas gifts on Facebook, according to a recent study by Searchmetrics.
This shows the social network creeping up on Google, which was cited by 50 per cent of the survey’s 1000 respondents as their preferred destination for searching products.
Meanwhile, Amazon took the top spot, with 61 per cent of shoppers sourcing their gift ideas via the platform.
Marcus Tober, chief technology officer and founder of Searchmetrics, said the study highlights the intensifying competition traditional search engines face from retail marketplaces and social networks.
“One of the benefits of looking for product ideas on social networks is that you get to see feedback and preferences from other consumers, as well as participate in online discussions about products with a range of people, including your own friends and followers. And of course purchase recommendations from other shoppers – especially friends – can be very powerful,” he added.
The research follows Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg signalling his intention to ramp up its search offering. He stated in July that there were more than one billion search queries occurring on Facebook every day.
In a move to support this, Facebook last week ended its search results agreement with Microsoft’s Bing.
"We’re not currently showing web search results in Facebook Search because we’re focused on helping people find what’s been shared with them on Facebook,” a spokesperson said.
Other social networks are also beginning to court shoppers in the research stage of the purchase journey. Seven per cent of shoppers Searchmetrics surveyed said they researched potential gifts on Pinterest, the same number as Twitter.
Tober advised retailers to use a variety of methods to promote their products at Christmas.
“They should be trying to increase their visibility in Google searches, as well as building a strong presence on social networks such as Facebook. And even if they are not present on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, they need to be checking these sites to see what their competitors are doing,” he continued.