Good news: Social sells
Have you been properly maintaining your social media presence? If not, now may be the time to start.
A new report by digital advertising and analytics firm Adlucent found that 39 percent of respondents made purchasing decisions based on social media posts and advertisements—higher than in previous years. Most people still begin their shopping journey on sites like Amazon and search engines like Google and Bing, and 45 percent of respondents at least partially base their purchase decisions on recommendations from influencers and celebrities. The growing influence of social media can be utilized by retailers in several ways to drive sales and capitalize on shoppers’ attentions.
Having a well-maintained, personal, engaging social media presence is important. Millennials and Gen Z-ers, the next big classes of purchasing power, grew up with social media and don’t know the world without it. They believe in transparency and honesty—social media posts that don’t feel genuine won’t draw their interest. By engaging with your audience, making personal posts, and responding to comments on your page, you can build trust with this customer base and inspire loyalty to your brand. Consumers love a personalized shopping experience—both in and out of the store.
Ideas to enhance this include photo contests, hosting Facebook events, using media featuring real customers in posts, and encouraging your audience to reply to statuses and other posts. Anything that allows for personal interaction between your brand and your customers is a good start.
Ads are tricky. Seventy-five percent of consumers see them as untrustworthy, and many see them as intrusive, but they’re also the most effective and controlled way to make sure that your message is getting out there. As a compromise, 48 percent of respondents say that they would rather have personalized advertisements across their various social news feeds. When broken down by specific site, that number rises to 68 percent for Facebook and 64 percent for YouTube. Unsurprising, considering personalized ads make customers feel as though they have more control over what they see. Investing in these advertisements to target a specific customer base is a great way to intentionally get your message to interested consumers, and entice them with something new.
The new word-of-mouth
Purchasing is, for the most part, an emotional process. Feelings drive us to choose what we like and evaluate how much we are willing to spend. Social media allows for a steady stream of content that can elicit emotional responses.
For example, seeing a product shared by your friends, family, or a celebrity can lead to envy or curiosity, and drive you to make a purchase you may not have otherwise considered. In 2012, Forbes reported that 81 percent of people were influenced by their friends’ posts—the new world of word-of-mouth marketing. While this is a difficult factor for retailers to control, it still influences decision-making by consumers.
And while you might think that social media, which has its home online, would only contribute to online shopping, think again. It turns out that 78 percent of people admit to “web-rooming,” or researching a purchase online, but waiting to go to a brick-and-mortar establishment to actually buy the item. And according to a study by Deloitte, shoppers were 29 percent more likely to make an in-store purchase the same day if they looked at social media before or during their trip. They’re also four times as likely to spend more money than they intended.
So if you haven’t gotten onto any social media sites yet, you might want to. Their users aren’t logging out anytime soon—except maybe to go shopping.