“Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be…”
Gallup Inc. summed up their recent report on social media and its influence on buyers’ decisions with those words. The report shows that 62% of consumers say social media has no effect at all on their purchasing decisions. That is staggering considering the amount of time and resources many companies, especially startups, are investing into social-media marketing campaigns. So what does this mean for companies going forward? Let’s dig into Gallup’s report a little further.
Social Media Marketing Shouldn’t Be Just About the Numbers
“Of the consumers who reported “liking” or following a company, 34% still said that social media had no influence on their purchasing behavior, while 53% said they had only some influence.”
Many of us are probably guilty of simply seeking a substantial social media following by simply focusing on quantity. But just because somebody “likes” a Facebook page does not mean that they are more likely to purchase from that company. In fact, polls find that people are still more likely to seek advice from family, friends, and experts before they seek advice from a Facebook page. This isn’t all that shocking, but by simply focusing on the number of “likes” companies are missing the greatest potential social media has to becoming a force within marketing strategies.
The old-fashioned tune still rings true, people talk. Conversations among friends and family are still the driving force in customer persuasion. Social media facilitates these types of conversations and provide an opportunity for companies to take part in the conversation. As Gallup says, “Yet, many companies continue to treat social media as a one-way communication vehicle and are largely focused on how they can use these sites to push their marketing agendas.”
Social-media marketing should be a conversation that companies appear honest and informational without pushing an agenda too rigorously.
The Need for More than Social Media
One last interesting idea presented by Gallup is obvious, yet very important. Customer engagement needs to take place online and offline. Gallup states that time and time again that the success of customer engagement is determined by how well they “align all their touch points.” Customer purchases are still driven more by in-store displays and interactions than social media and will probably remain this way.
A large part of marketing is creating an experience for the customer through your product and service. It still remains difficult to do so through social-media channels. As we shape our social-media strategies, we must understand that social media is only a small portion of an overall strategy that must include the creation of a customer experience. The priority must be quality over quantity so that our online and offline interactions match to create a single, memorable experience that users will share with their family, friends, and acquaintances. Possibly through social media outlets.