How Engagement with Social Media Brands Influences Purchasing
A survey which was recently undertaken by The Manifest attempted to gain some insights on how social media users in this country interact with brands on those platforms. A secondary aim of the study was to discover how those interactions would the impact any buying decisions they might have. The findings from that study will probably be very valuable to most businesses in understanding how their own interactions with consumers can serve to build trust, boost brand awareness, and ultimately achieve conversions among followers. Here are the main points uncovered during the survey.
Interacting with consumers can add considerable depth to business – customer relationships, and it can help establish a long-running rapport which builds a sense of trust. To illustrate this point, almost 2/3 of Internet users indicated that they made a purchase directly after seeing an advertisement on social media.
Part of the reasoning for this is that the social media allows consumers to obtain a behind-the-scenes perspective of many businesses. This might include commitments to work culture, social responsibility, and whatever significant company events are on the horizon. All these help to humanize the brand, and to increase the relationship with followers.
Males and females are drawn to different platforms
One unsurprising result of the survey found that gender plays a distinct role in social media behavior for men and women. That in turn, means that their buying decisions are influenced by different kinds of social media interactions. While it’s more likely for females to be influenced by Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, men are more likely to be swayed by material on Twitter and YouTube.
It should be borne in mind however, that these are only general principles and that purchasing decisions are always a very personal thing. Ultimately, purchasing decisions are influenced most heavily by social network preferences and the specific kinds of products that individuals are interested in buying.
Age affects purchasing decisions
Just as gender plays an important role in the kinds of influence that social media can have on an individual, ages of those individuals plays a similar role. This is especially true when the age difference is an entire generation, where for instance it is known that millennials routinely spend the largest part of their day on social media.
Millennials also spend the most time on their favorite platforms, compared to baby boomers and generation X consumers. This should make it obvious that social media plays a much bigger role in influencing the buying decisions of millennials that of any other generation. Businesses which have an understanding of this principle may therefore want to target millennials more than any other demographic with their ads.
Social media can be a primary connection with consumers
Communication barriers which may have existed in the past between consumers and various brands are rapidly being torn down by the Internet. More and more, people are using social media to interact with businesses, to learn more about them, and to gain insights into their operation. It is now known that 74% of all consumers on social media actually follow specific brands. Of those consumers, a whopping 96% also engage in some form of interaction with those brands on their preferred social media platforms.
For the companies themselves, it means that vastly more consumers are actually reaching out to businesses with their commentary and feedback on products and other issues. They’re also expressing concerns and asking questions, as well as listening for product announcements and upcoming company events. These are all things worth knowing about for a business, because they can be incorporated into a strategy to be used for interactions and ultimately for making sales.
Social media platforms must be chosen carefully
It will be important for businesses to craft their social media content specifically for their target audiences, as well as for the social media platforms they intend to use. Consumers are far more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Facebook, than on all the other platforms combined. The survey determined that 52% of Facebook users follow at least one brand on that platform, and that the nearest competitor at a distant 16%, is Instagram.
Much of this probably has to do with Facebook’s dominance among social media platforms, but it’s worth noting that all the other platforms can only muster up around 10% or less, in terms of consumer purchases from followed brands. This is not to say that Facebook is necessarily the greatest influencer on purchases, because the statistics are probably a better reflection of Facebook’s size than its actual influence on consumers.
Social media for two-way communication
Most of the time, when consumers interact with a brand, they expect some kind of response. This opens up an opportunity for businesses to make use of social media as a kind of extension of the customer service they already provide. Most people consider online interactions as pretty much the same thing as face-to-face discussions, and therefore place high value on those brands which actually engage with them on social media platforms. This can open a lot of doors for a business, by instilling trust in customers whenever they have a chance to interact with them on social media.
People buy from brands they follow
Customers can be connected with social media by both B2C and B2B businesses, and these connections can go a long way toward establishing trust between customers and businesses. There are a number of ways which businesses can initiate these interactions, including personalized interactions, targeted ads, and through social media influencers.
What all this means is that any business’ social media strategy is much more likely to be successful when the business has a clear idea of its target audience. That means it has to be aware of age and gender, and how these and other factors can influence purchasing decisions, as well as consumers’ approach to social media. Any business which takes the time to understand all this and incorporate it into their marketing strategy, will probably enjoy much greater success reaching out to customers on social media.