Social media networks have a great amount of potential for business owners and marketers. They provide a low-cost solution for advertising, content distribution, customer relations, and more. With social media being so capable, it’s strangely difficult to understand how consumers use social media on the path to purchase.
Two recent studies analyse the different ways people and businesses interact with social media for retail purposes. One study looks at the role social media plays in consumer buying decisions. The other shows how more and more businesses are using social media to reach their target consumer.
The research on consumer behavior and social media is a good place to start. Many business owners are justifiably confused about the value of social media as a whole and how to interpret the meaning of metrics. Recently, CrowdTap surveyed 500 adults in the U.S., with an average age of 36, to better understand shopping preferences and behaviors when shopping online or in-store.
The CrowdTap research showed that consumers rely on social media throughout the purchase process, though it matters more at some times than others. For example, during the pre-purchase period, nearly three out of four consumers visit Facebook to get recommendations and advice from family and friends.
Similarly, when people are about to make a purchase, they often consult social media for the opinions of others. According to CrowdTap more than 80% of consumers said they use their smartphone to compare prices across competitor websites and social media, and also to search for online coupons or loyalty programs.
And even after the purchase has been made, consumers use social media to talk about the items and brands they bought. As was summarized in another media report, “Nearly half (47%) of consumers will write a review after a purchase. Furthermore, more than a third of consumers are looking for a loyal relationship with a brand where they can be heard, of which 71% prefer to share feedback via social media than in email surveys.”
The message from all of this should be clear. Even if social media marketing doesn’t always relate to sales via social media, the way people interact with social media is extremely important in just about other part of the purchasing process, brand awareness and reputation management.
Of course, none of this news is fresh off the presses for many business owners. The power and potential of social media has been spoken of regularly on many occasions. The evidence for this can be seen in the other study mentioned in the outset. According to a recent report, social media ad spending is growing at a tremendous rate.
Kinetic Social recently released a report titled “Q3 2016 Social Trends Report”, which examined data on social media advertising spending.
Some of the networks that have been pushing new advertising productives have seen amazing gains in just the short period of time the new ad formats were available. A clear example of this can be seen in Pinterest. Kinetic saw a nearly 350 percent jump in investment in Pinterest during the third quarter compared to the second quarter. This represents a 500 percent increase over the same period last year. Clearly, Pinterest is using the information about consumer behavior to its advantage.
The point of all of this that social media is a powerful tool for business owners and marketers. And not only should business owners make an effort to put their business on social networks, it’s worth the money to advertise to the groups you find on social media.
For more recent news about social media marketing, read this article on Facebook’s plan to allow ad targeting to Facebook Groups.