Social Media’s Influence on the Buying Process

As a smart business executive, you have surely asked yourself whether social media posts really have enough impact to warrant an investment in that marketing channel.  Should you stop spinning your wheels in trying to impress your prospective customers via social media and come to terms with the fact that Facebook, LinkedIn and the like are essential for engaging with current customers and for impacting retention, but perhaps just not for driving new business?  These are great questions and ones that every business decision-maker should ask.  However, how you answer them could mean the difference between growing your business and simply sustaining it.  Why, you ask? Read on…

Social Media is For Buyers

If you are one of the many who still think social media doesn’t impact consumer purchase decisions, consider that 78% respondents to a Market Force survey stated that posts made by companies they follow on social media impact their purchases.   A recent report from Deloitte shows nearly one in three U.S. consumers are influenced by social media in their purchases.  This report also noted that consumers who use social media during their shopping process are four times more likely to spend more on purchases than those who do not. 

For social media to impact your target market’s buying habits, the message needs to be delivered at the right time during the buying process.  A recent study by Eccolomedia shows that social media content has the most influence at the top of the funnel.  Sixty seven percent of respondents said they find social content most helpful during the pre-sales (when they are unaware of the problem) and initial sales (when they understand the problem) phases of the buying cycle.  Creating messaging that addresses the pain points of your target audience during these stages will help you grab their attention and engage them in your message.

Does Social Media Work for All Industries?

Since we know that shopper buying decisions are influenced by social media, we would say that yes, social media marketing works for all industries.  What varies is success by platform.  For example, a TABS Analytics study uncovered YouTube is very important to 28 % of cosmetic buyers in determining which products to buy.  They also found Instagram to be very important in the purchasing decisions of 31% of Millennials—who are heavy buyers of cosmetics. 

Not surprisingly, the technology industry is also heavily reliant on social media during their buying process.  Fifty-one percent of respondents to Eccolomedia’s study said that when they are shopping for technology, they are more likely to look at Facebook as a reference prior to buying.  The same survey showed that 40% of respondents were likely to consume vendor information posted on LinkedIn. 

The healthcare industry is another example of one whose target audience is turning to the Internet, and specifically social media, for information.  More than 70 percent of internet users sought out health information online, according to a Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study.   Another study found that 55 percent of users surveyed who used social media for healthcare research did so to get more information about a medical condition. Reviews and rankings of doctors, hospitals, and medicines were the next-most-sought information. 

Putting it All To Good Use

While it may take time to see the results of your efforts, it’s clear that investing in social media to help drive more business is a worthwhile endeavor.   As with all marketing programs, knowing your target market and their media consumption habits will play a huge role in your social media marketing success.  Study their buying habits and learn how to interrupt their buying process so you can grab their attention at the right time.

So what now?  It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  The first step to successfully using social media to influence your audience will be to do market research to identify when and where your potential customers are spending their digital time.  From there we can help you build a persona and develop a content plan and editorial calendar. 

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Content and Social Media Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.